Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays in the Semifinals of both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles - UBITENNIS
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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays in the Semifinals of both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles

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Unfortunately, Novak Djokovic hasn’t had any fans in attendance to share the love with this past week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

One of the only items missing from Novak Djokovic’s resume is an Olympic gold medal.  But over the course of the next three days, he has a chance to win two.  In the men’s singles semifinals, he faces Sascha Zverev, the remaining player with the best chance of preventing him from standing atop the podium in singles.  The other men’s semifinal sees Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta face a second consecutive Russian.  On Thursday, he eliminated Daniil Medvedev from medal contention.  On Friday, he takes on recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karen Khachanov.

Also on Friday, the men’s doubles medals will be decided, with two teams of Croats facing off for the gold.  And the mixed doubles semifinals will also be played, which include two teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee, as well as Djokovic and fellow world No.1 Ash Barty.

Friday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.  There are possible thunderstorms forecast in the afternoon and evening, though the roof over Centre Court will guarantee uninterrupted play for those scheduled there.

Pablo Carreno Busta (6) [ESP] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – 3:00pm on Centre Court

Khachanov has achieved two Major quarterfinals, while Carreno Busta has reached two semis.  However, both players would certainly state this is the biggest match of their careers to date, as it will decide who plays for the gold medal on Sunday.  Pablo leads their head-to-head 3-2, though Khachanov leads 2-1 on hard courts, as two of the Spaniard’s victories came on clay.  Four of their five meetings have been straight-setters, meaning the first set may prove extremely crucial on Friday.  Carreno Busta has advanced considerably more comfortably, requiring only one third set, compared to Khachanov who has been pushed to a third set in three out of four matches.  Pablo has also been the much better player over the past year, and unlike Khachanov, his two best results at Slams have come on this surface.  He possesses a much more consistent game than Karen, who can easily rack up a large amount of unforced errors.  I like Carreno Busta’s chances of prevailing in this semifinal.

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] – Second on Centre Court

Djokovic is 6-2 against Zverev, and 5-1 on hard courts.  Sascha’s two victories have either come on clay or on an indoor hard court.  He defeated Novak in the championship match of the 2018 ATP Finals, the biggest title of his career.  Both men have dominated all competition through four rounds.  Neither has dropped a set, and only Zverev has been pushed to a tiebreak.  Novak has been even more savage, averaging just over two games lost per set.  Through four rounds, Sascha has struck 23 aces and absolutely no double faults, which is notable considering the second serve issues of his recent past.  If he continues to serve like that, he has a legitimate chance to upset Djokovic.  But Novak seems to be completely in the zone, exuding a calm confidence that is unmatched in the sport.  Twice before, he’s reached the semifinals of the Olympics in men’s singles, but is yet to advance to the gold medal match.  That should change on Friday.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (1) [CRO] vs. Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig [CRO] – Mektic and Pavic are the heavy gold medal favorites, with 52 wins and eight titles on the year.

Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus [NZL] vs. Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren [USA] – Daniell and Venus are the more accomplished doubles players, though they are not a regular pairing.  The Americans teamed at three events leading up to this tournament. 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Ash Barty and John Peers [AUS] – The Australians are definitely the better doubles players, but few players are having better seasons than Pavlyuchenkova or Rublev.

Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] vs. Nina Stojanovic and Novak Djokovic [SRB] – Vesnina and Karatsev were finalists at this year’s Roland Garros.  The Serbians prevailed convincingly on Thursday, dropping only three games.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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