Novak Djokovic Fights Back To Clinch Record-Equalling 20th Major title At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Fights Back To Clinch Record-Equalling 20th Major title At Wimbledon

Djokovic’s victory at Wimbledon makes him the first man to win the first three Grand Slams of a season since Rod Laver in 1969.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) serving against Matteo Berrettini (ITA) in the final of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 13 Sunday 11/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Novak Djokovic has continued his unbeaten run in Grand Slam tournaments this year by ousting Italy’s Matteo Berrettini to win the Wimbledon Championships.

 

The world No.1 valiantly battled his way to a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, victory and has become the third man in history to win a 20th Grand Slam title. Drawing level with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is also the sixth time in Djokovic’s career he has won the prestigious grasscourt title which is the fourth highest tally of all time among male players. In his latest final against Berrettini the Serbian secured his career milestone with the help of five aces and 31 winners.

“Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream of mine when I was a kid. I have told this story many times but I have to repeat it to remind myself how special this is and not take it for granted,” Djokovic said during his on-court interview.
“I was a seven year-old boy in Serbia constructing materials to make a (Wimbledon) trophy and today standing with a sixth Wimbledon (trophy), it’s incredible.”

In what was an historic encounter for both players, their clash began with a dramatic 71-minute opener which saw the Italian underdog valiantly battle back from a 2-5 deficit. Defending champion Djokovic was the first to draw blood just four games into the match after hitting a forehand winner to set him up with a break point opportunity to move ahead 3-1. He managed to convert with the help of a deep shot towards the baseline which forced another mistake to be made by his rival.

Despite the top seed taking the early lead, Berrettini managed to weather the storm as he bounced back to draw level. After surviving a marathon eight-deuce game where he fended off a set point, he broke back in the following game en route to levelling proceedings at 5-5. Prompting an eruption of cheers from the Centre Court crowd. With little to distinguish between the two, the theme of momentum changes continued into the tiebreak.

After failing to maintain an early 3-0 lead, Berrettini’s decisive strike occurred with the help of a blistering forehand winner which granted him another mini break for 5-3 but this time he managed to hold. After punishing Djokovic for a questionable drop shot to earn his first set point, he closed out the marathon opener with an enormous 138mph ace.

Matteo Berrettini (ITA) Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with Djokovic once again starting off guns blazing after a lapse in his opponent’s concentration enabled him to surge to a 5-1 lead with relative ease. However, he was still far from his best and it showed when it came to the clunch points. Some uncharacteristic shot-making out of nowhere brought Berrettini back into contention as he won three games in a row but this time Djokovic held his nerve to level the final a set apiece.

Coming from behind is something that has never fazed Djokovic who has previously won six major titles after dropping the first set throughout his career. Although it wasn’t just the world No.9 he had to deal with, it was the crowd who continued their vocal support for Berrettini. The situation fired up Djokovic even more who got an early break during the third set due to a backhand unforced error from his opponent before closing in on the lead. He achieved the turnaround with the tactic of slowing the pace of his shots in order to draw more errors from across the court. This was evident during the last game of the third set with three of the last four points being decided by a Berrettini mistake.

Closing in on victory was far from simple thanks to Berrettini’s resilience on the court. Midway through the fourth set a Berrettini double fault granted Djokovic his fifth and most critical break to move him to two games from victory. He would go on to prevail on his third match point after a 15-shot rally concluded with a Berrettini slice crashing into the net. Prompting a jubilant Djokovic to collapse onto the ground after 203 minutes of pulsating play.

“Novak, he’s writing the history of this sport and deserves all credit. I’m really happy with my final and hopefully it is not going to be my last one here,” Berrettini said afterwards.
“It’s such an honour to be here and it is an unbelievable feeling. I had such a great run over the two weeks and also before at Queen’s. I couldn’t ask for more.”

The victory gives Djokovic the chance to overtake both Nadal and Federer for most major titles won by an ATP player later this year at the US Open. Reflecting on his rivalry with the two tennis giants, he believes they have made him a better player over the years.

“They are legends of our sport and they are the most important players that I have ever faced in my career. I think the reason that I am where I am today is because they helped me realise what I needed to do to improve,” he said.
“When I broke into the top 10 for the first three, four years I lost to these two guys. Then something shifted at the end of 2010 and the last 10 years have been an incredible journey which is not stopping here.”

Djokovic is also still on course to achieve a calendar Grand Slam which has only been achieved by a select few in the sports history.

I’m going to definitely give it my best shot. I’m in great form and playing my best tennis at Grand Slams is my highest priority right now,” he concluded.

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Ash Barty Reveals ‘Excitement’ After Mixed Doubles Medal In Tokyo

Ash Barty has revealed her excitement after her and John Peers won Australia’s first Olympic tennis medal for 17 years.

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Ash Barty and John Peers (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Ash Barty revealed her excitement at winning Bronze in the mixed doubles in Tokyo with John Peers.

 

The world number one along with doubles specialist John Peers claimed Australia’s first tennis medal at the Olympics since 2004.

Despite benefiting from a bronze medal match withdrawal from Novak Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic, that hasn’t taken away the happiness of claiming an Olympic medal.

Speaking to the Channel 7 programmes Sunrise Barty proudly spoke about the achievement, “It’s been an amazing week for both John and I,” Barty was quoted as saying by Tennis Australia.

“We’ve played some great tennis, probably the best we’ve ever played together. To walk away with a medal and contribute to the team total here in Australia has been incredible.

“Johnny and I, we put ourselves in a position all week to play good tennis and I feel like we really deserve this one. We were so close to being in that gold medal play-off and I think for both of us, it’s been awesome. We’ve played great. I felt like we really deserved this one for Australia.

“No, I think for us it’s excitement. I just hope as athletes, as a whole Australian team that’s here – all 480 odd of us – we can bring a smile to people’s faces at home when they’re sitting on the couch enjoying watching us trying (to) go out there and do Australia proud.”

As for John Peers it was an achievement of a lifetime, inspired by the traditional Olympic spirit, “Any chance you get to represent your country and to do it alongside Ash, to be able to say we’re the first mixed doubles medallists at an Olympics for Australia is something really special,” the 33 year-old commented.

“There was so much uncertainty leading into the Games and to be able to see the way the Australian team’s come together and sort of really bonded has really shown the Australian spirit, the way that all the athletes get behind each other.

“To be able to show the Olympics is going on in uncertain times is just something really special and unique and hopefully it can be the turning point for the world, and Australia, to come out the other side.”

Both will be hoping that this week will be the start of something special for Australian tennis as they will look to capitalise on this success in three years time in Paris.

Next for John Peers will be Washington next week where he and Filip Polasek are the top seeds.

While Ash Barty will be starting her preparations for the US Open in Cincinnati which starts on the 16th of August.

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Czech Republican Trailblazers Inspire Krejcikova and Siniakova To Olympic Gold In Tokyo

Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova reflect on Czech Republic’s Olympic past after Olympic gold.

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Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova admit that former Czech Republican trailblazers inspired them to win doubles gold in Tokyo.

 

The top seeds claimed gold with a 7-5 6-1 win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.

After edging a tight opening set, the Czech Republican duo eased to victory to claim gold in Tokyo.

It was a historic gold as the pair went one better than trailblazers Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova who won silver in Seoul 1988 and Atlanta 1992.

After the victory today Krejcikova paid tribute to those before them and said that they were inspired by those who came before them, “The motivation we got from the previous medallists is really big,” the Roland Garros champion told the ITF website.

“I think we got really inspired by them. I think we really need to thank them because without them we just wouldn’t have the motivation and the inspiration.

“It’s really big. We’re really happy and really grateful that we could be here. We did such a great job during these 10 days and we have this beautiful gold medal. It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

While Katerina Siniakova also outlined how special it is to win the gold medal as the top seeds remain the team to beat in the Women’s doubles game, “It’s really special this one,” Siniakova admitted.

“I really enjoyed my whole time here. It was really tough and I’m so glad we kept fighting and in the end we have this one, this gold medal. It’s really amazing. I feel so honoured I got to represent my country.”

The Czech Republican will be favourites to win their fourth grand slam at the US Open in late August.

As for Bencic and Golubic, it has been a successful tournament especially for Bencic who won Olympic gold yesterday.

After the match Bencic admitted it’s not just about Olympic medals and that its about the memories created, “It’s not just about the medals or the titles, it’s about the memories you create that will last forever,” Bencic claimed.

“To share this with Viki is unbelievable. The whole week I never felt like I was in a normal tournament or playing alone. She was alongside me the entire way. I always tell her we won this gold medal together as well.

“When we will be 80 years old and have a coffee, we will talk about these moments and I cannot wait for that.”

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold

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Karen Khachanov celebrating victory earlier this week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

48 hours after ending Novak Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam, a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf, Sascha Zverev looks to win another gold medal for Germany.  But a big-hitting Russian stands in his way, one who owns a winning record against Zverev on hard courts.

 

The last day of tennis in Tokyo will also host two gold medal matches in doubles.  In women’s doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have won three Majors, and now go for a gold medal against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.  For Bencic, it’s an opportunity to win a second gold medal in as many days.  

In addition, a pair of teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee will face off for gold in mixed doubles.  Will Elena Vesnina be able to recover from a devastating loss in Saturday’s women’s doubles bronze medal match?  Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova held four match points, only to lose the last six points of the match and fail to reach the podium.

Sunday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.

Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – Second on Centre Court

Overall they have split four previous encounters, but Khachanov leads 2-1 on this surface, which includes their two most recent meetings.  And neither of those have been close.  At the 2018 Paris Masters, it was 6-1, 6-2.  At the 2019 Rogers Cup, it was 6-3, 6-3.  The event in Paris was the biggest title run of the Russian’s career, and a week where he also defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.  However, he hasn’t won a title, or even reached a final, ever since.  And prior to his run to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Khachanov was only 16-14 on the year.  But it is worth noting he’s 4-0 lifetime in ATP finals, with his other three victories coming at 250-level events.

Zverev is certainly the far more accomplished player.  He owns 15 career titles, which includes four Masters events, as well as the 2018 ATP Finals.  And he’s reached the semifinals or better at Majors three times, something Khachanov is yet to achieve.   Though I do wonder just how much scar tissue was created by his loss in the final of last year’s US Open, where he was up two sets before eventually losing in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Both he and Dominic Thiem played a considerably nervy match, and this will be Zverev’s first best-of-five final since that painful loss.

And that could be a significant factor on this day: the men’s singles gold medal final is the only match at the Olympics that is best-of-five.  Zverev possesses a much stronger record in best-of-five, and a far superior record in five-setters.  As per Tennis Abstract, Sascha is 16-9 in fifth sets, compared to Karen’s record of 6-7.  And Khachanov’s two most recent five-set wins were not pretty.  A few weeks ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, against Sebastian Korda, 13 out of the 18 games in the fifth set were breaks of serve.  And last summer at the US Open, he was only able to come back from two sets down thanks to the cramping of Jannik Sinner. 

So who is the favorite to win gold?  Their head-to-head favors Khachanov, while recent form and best-of-five experience favors Zverev.  And the German has been serving excellently throughout this tournament, striking 40 aces and only three doubles, especially impressive for a player who has suffered from double fault issues in the recent past.  However, Zverev had a much easier road to this final than Khachanov.  Other than Djokovic, Sascha faced no one ranked inside the top 40, while Karen beat three top 30 players.  The Olympics are an event which often produces surprising tennis results.  And these are two men who are known to get tight in big matches.  But considering the way Zverev has been serving, and the confidence boost his upset of Djokovic should provide, I give Sascha the slight edge to become an Olympic champion.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] – Vesnina not only lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, she and Kudermetova also served for the championship a few weeks ago at Wimbledon, before losing 9-7 in the third.  And Vesnina and Karatsev were defeated in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, the same event where Pavlyuchenkvoa lost in the women’s singles final.  Who will realize redemption on Sunday?

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic – The Czechs are of course the favorites, with three Major titles as a team.  The Swiss are a new team formed exclusively for this event.  But don’t count them out, especially with Bencic coming off a gold medal victory in singles on Saturday evening.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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