Novak Djokovic Fights Back In Four-Hour Roller-Coaster To Win French Open - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Fights Back In Four-Hour Roller-Coaster To Win French Open

In the blistering French heat Djokovic battled back from the brink to win Roland Garros for only the second time in his career.

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Novak Djokovic (image via French Open Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has claimed his 19th Grand Slam title at the French Open after battling back from two sets down to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(7), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, in what was a dramatic final.

 

The world No.1 looked at times to be far from his best as he remained emotionless throughout the majority of the final. Prompting a theory that he might have been still physically struggling following his clash with Rafael Nadal two days prior. Nevertheless, he weathered the storm with the help of 56 winners as he broke five times to claim only his second title at Roland Garros. Becoming the third oldest man in the Open Era to win the tournament.

“This is, once again, a dream come true,” Djokovic said moments after winning the match.
“I think to my team, my family, my physio, everyone. It’s difficult to win titles against great players. (The past) three days have been so difficult physically and mentally.”

Taking to the court for what was their eighth Tour meeting, the showdown started with a nail-biting 68-minute opening set which saw both players having opportunities. Tsitsipas withstood a seven-minute opening service game to settle his nerves against a fiery Djokovic who impressively dropped just two points during his first four service games. The Greek had his first set point chance to seal a 6-4 lead but failed to convert during an epic 24-shot rally. Two games later Djokovic had a chance of his own to clinch the opener after breaking for 6-5. However, the Serbian looked to be struggling with his eyes and ending up getting broken himself.

The roller-coaster continued into the tiebreak with Tsitsipas once again opening up a lead (4-0) before his rival fought back to draw level. Facing a set point for the first time at 5-6, he saved it with a deep forehand winner. Two points later he eventually prevailed with the help of a Djokovic unforced error.

Heading into the second frame, the world No.5 broke right away as his rival started to look increasingly flat and sluggish on the court. Even when he went down a double break the usual outburst of emotion was nowhere to be seen for Djokovic. Meanwhile, a confident Tsitsipas stuck to his game plan as he rallied to a 5-2 lead before sealing the second set with a 195 MP/H serve down the centre of the court.

The comeback

With his back up against the wall and playing more freely, it wasn’t until the third set where Djokovic regained momentum. During a marathon Tsitsipas service game, he prevailed on his fifth break point opportunity to open up a 3-1 lead. Enough of a margin for him to seal the set and revive his hopes of a second French Open crown.

As the tides began to turn, Tsitsipas took a medical time out to have work conducted on his lower back as he started to show signs of fatigue. Reminiscent of Djokovic’s clash with Lorenzo Musetti earlier in the tournament where he also came back from two sets down before the Italian was forced to retire in the decider.

Upon resumption Djokovic continued to battle emphatically back as he took the final into a decider. Something which hadn’t happened in the men’s tournament since 2004. Three games into the fifth set he struck once again with the help of a deep shot which forced Tsitsipas to return the ball out. Giving him the vital break for 3-1. Edging closer towards the finish line he still had to contend with some audacious play coming from across the court. Djokovic earned his first championship point with the help of a 197 mph serve which was his quickest of the match. Only to be denied by a sublime Tsitsipas backhand winner. However, he prevailed on his second attempt with a forehand volley at the net.

“These are the kind of occasions you can learn from the most,” Djokovic said in tribute to Tsitsipas. “Knowing him and his team, he’s gonna come out much stronger from this match. I definitely believe he is going to win many Grand Slams in the future.”

After coming close to his first Grand Slam title, Tsitsipas can seek some comfort in the fact he will rise to a new ranking high of fourth on Monday.

“It was a good first time playing here in the final. I’ve had a good run and I’m happy with myself but let’s give it to Novak because he has shown us over the last couple of years what a great champion he is,” said the Greek.
“I’m actually inspired by the things I have achieved here (in Paris) and I hope one day I can maybe do half of what he (Djokovic) has done.”

The triumph has made Djokovic the first man in the Open Era to have won every Grand Slam title at least twice. He is just one major title away from drawing level with Nadal and Roger Federer for the most ever won by an ATP player. The 34-year-old is also the first player to have won seven Grand Slam titles after turning 30.

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Borna Coric Still Feels Shoulder Pain Seven Months Into His Comeback

Playing professionally with niggles is never ideal but it is a price the Croat is willing to pay.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is one that world No.28 Borna Coric can closely relate to. 

 

Exactly 12 months ago Coric was in the middle of a lengthy hiatus from the sport due to a serious right shoulder issue which required him to undergo surgery. He didn’t play a match between March 2021 – March 2022 and previously admitted he contemplated if he would be able to return to the sport again. 

Fortunately the 25-year-old was able to resume his career and enjoyed a breakthrough moment during his comeback by winning his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in August. It was at that tournament where he scored three wins over top 10 players. Since then, he suffered a loss to Jenson Brooksby in the second round of the US Open before winning two out of his three matches played at the Davis Cup. 

Seeking to break back inside the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2019, it appears that Coric’s injury woes are behind him. However, things are never as simple as they look. 

“I do feel good. I can play tennis and extra training, way more than I was before the surgery,” Coric told reporters earlier this week. “Still I have sometimes a little pain and I need to manage that. But I can play. A little bit of pain, sometimes I think that’s fine.
“I’m not very young anymore so I need to be ready to have some pain sometimes, If that’s what it takes, I’m fine with it.” He added. 

Coric is currently playing at the Japan Open where he is the eighth seed in the draw. On Tuesday he began his campaign with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis to record his first-ever win in Tokyo. 

He will play his second round match on Thursday against Brandon Nakashima, who has Japanese heritage from his father’s side but is playing an ATP event in the country for the first time in his career. Nakashima defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-2, in his opening match earlier this week. 

“The love for tennis here (in Tokyo) is a thing to experience,’ Coric wrote on Instagram. 

Coric has won ATP titles in three separate continents but is yet to be triumphant in Asia. 

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Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance

Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in this week’s ATP Pepperstone rankings.

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afael Nadal of Spain and Carlos Alcaraz of Spain FOTO: A.MARTINEZ/MMO

Let’s start from the title winners of last week.

 

Marc-Andrea Husler paid a most worthy tribute to the retirement of his fellow countryman Roger Federer by winning the ATP 250 in Sofia and showcasing a style which thrilled all net game lovers. As a result, he soars to his career highest of No. 64. Yoshihito Nishioka tops his excellent second part of season by securing his second career title in Seoul and moving up to No. 41, his best ranking ever. Finally Novak Djokovic consolidated his chances to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin thanks to his win in Tel Aviv.

TOP 20

PositionPlayerCountryATP Pts+/-
1AlcarazSpain6740 
2NadalSpain58101
3RuudNorway5645-1
4MedvedevRussia5065 
5ZverevGermany5040 
6TsitsipasGreece4810 
7DjokovicSerbia3820 
8NorrieGB3445 
9RublevRussia3345 
10HurkaczPoland31751
11FritzUSA30551
12SinnerItaly3040-2
13Auger-AliassimeCanada2950 
14CilicCroatia24952
15Carreno BustaSpain2360-1
16BerrettiniItaly2360-1
17SchwartzmanArgentina2110 
18KhachanovRussia1990 
19TiafoeUSA1940 
20KyrgiosAustralia1780 


A few comments:

  • Rafael Nadal overtakes Casper Ruud. The two Spaniards are towering over the rest of the pack.
  • Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz both gain one position since Jannik Sinner, former title holder in Bulgaria, had to withdraw in the semifinal due to an ankle injury, and failed to defend the points he had earned in 2021 in Sofia.
  • Marin Cilic is back in the top 15 players of the world, after reaching the final in Tel Aviv.

NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6460
2NadalSpain5810
3RuudNorway4930
4TsitsipasGreece4630
5MedvedevRussia3375
6RublevRussia3055
7Auger-AliassimeCanada2860
8ZverevGermany2700
9HurkaczPoland2635
10FritzUSA2385
11NorrieGB2365
12SinnerItaly2310
13Carreno BustaSpain2270
14BerrettiniItaly2225
15DjokovicSerbia2220


Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud and Tsitsipas are already qualified for the ATP Finals scheduled in Turin from 13 to 20 November; Djokovic is another likely contender in the star-studded event, since, as a Grand Slam winner, he just needs to be ranked in the top 20 in order to qualify. 

Six places are yet to be conquered, including the 2 reserves, which means that 9 players will be battling to book their ticket to Turin in the next weeks. 2021 ATP Finals winner Sasha Zverev, still grounded by injury, is not among them.

2500 points are at stake in the upcoming weeks featuring one ATP Masters 1000, two ATP 500 and two ATP 250.

This is the week of the ATP 500 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan and of the Japan Open in Tokyo, which have just kicked off.  Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and Djokovic are out for the glory and the points, whereas Sinner and Berrettini are in the pits. Berrettini will be back on the tour the following week in Florence.

INTESA SANPAOLO NEXT GENERATION FINALS

Qualifying for the Next Gen Finals in Milan from 8 to 12 November is going to be a tough battle. Alcaraz and Sinner are likely not to take part in the event and all the other players are so close that anything could happen.   

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOBATP Rank
1AlcarazSpain646020031
2SinnerItaly2310200112
3MusettiItaly1356200227
4RuneDenmark1338200326
5DraperGB925200149
6NakashimaUSA842200147
7LeheckaCzeck Rep.602200173
8TsengTaipei490200187
9PassaroItaly4412001123
10StrickerSwitzerland3902002133
11MisolicAustria3702001138
12NardiItaly3402003152
13ZeppieriItaly3282001164
14ArnaldiItaly3132001158
15CobolliItaly2882002159

BEST RANKING

This week seven players in the top 100 are celebrating their career highest. 

PlayerPositionCountry
Fritz11USA
Musetti27Italy
Nishioka41Japan
Nakashima47USA
Lestienne61France
Husler64Switzerland
Safiullin92Russia

 A double applause for the two winners of Seoul and Sofia: Yoshihito Nishioka and Marc-Andrea Husler.

Article written by By Roberto Ferri for ubitennis.com, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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