Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Pursues the Golden Slam - UBITENNIS
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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Pursues the Golden Slam



Novak Djokovic practicing earlier this week in Tokyo (

Novak Djokovic is one Olympic Gold medal and one US Open away from becoming the second player to achieve the Golden Slam: winning all four Majors and the Olympic gold medal in singles within the same year.  Thus far, it’s a feat only accomplished by Steffi Graf in 1988.  Djokovic has already won 21 of 34 matches necessary to do so, with six wins required over the next nine days in Tokyo.  How will Novak perform under the pressure of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

While many top names decided to skip this event, the men’s singles draw still features five of the world’s top 10, with seven of the top 10 on the women’s side.  Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are the men’s top seeds, while Wimbledon champion Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka, who had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday, are the women’s top seeds.  And with so many singles players also competing in doubles, there will be plenty of highly-anticipated doubles matchups. 

The event will be staged at the Ariake Tennis Park, which usually hosts ATP and WTA 500 tournaments shortly after the US Open.  Unfortunately, there will be no fans in attendance due to Tokyo COVID-19 protocols.  Centre Court features a roof in case of rain.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Belinda Bencic (9) vs. Jessica Pegula – Third on Court 1

Bencic claimed their only previous meeting, though that was six years ago on grass.  However, Pegula has been the much better player of late.  Bencic is only 17-14 on the year, while Pegula is an impressive 27-13.  On hard courts, it’s 7-6 for Benic, and 17-6 for Pegula.  And Bencic has a losing record against top 30 opposition in 2021, and is 0-4 against the top 20.  By contrast, Pegula has accumulated six top 10 victories.  The court speed in Tokyo are reportedly rather slow for a hard court, which will not be as conducive to the American’s flat groundstrokes.  It’s also worth considering results at events where players are representing their countries, and not only playing for themselves, often inspire different players to excel.  But based on recent results, Pegula should still be favored to upset a top 10 seed.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Hugo Dellien – Fourth on Centre Court

At the last two Olympics, Djokovic has experienced heartache at the hands of Juan Martin Del Potro.  In London, the Argentine defeated him in the Bronze Medal match, preventing Novak from getting a medal.  In Rio, Del Potro upset Djokovic in the opening round, resulting in a dramatic scene where both men left the court in tears.  On Instagram this week, Juan Martin even teased Novak, commenting “I’ll be watching you!  This time you have your chance amigo!”  It would be shocking if Djokovic were to lose in the opening round again this year, especially against the 139th-ranked man in the world, who has spent most of this season playing Challenger events on clay.  And Dellien has never defeated a top 20 player in his career.  But it will be telling to see just how fresh and comfortable Djokovic looks just 13 days after winning his 20th Major, and with such history on the line.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Alexander Bublik – This is a rematch from the first round of Roland Garros, when Medvedev prevailed in straight sets to secure his first career victory at that event.

Kiki Bertens (16) vs. Marketa Vondrousova – This will be the last event of Bertens’ career, who just two years ago was ranked as high as No.4 in the world.  At the 2018 US Open, Vondrousova defeated Bertens in a third set tiebreak.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (2) vs. Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury – Murray is the two-time defending gold medalist in singles, and also won a silver medal nine years ago in mixed doubles.  Herbert and Mahut are coming off a French Open title last month, their fifth Major title as a team.

Ash Barty and Storm Sanders (4) vs. Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya – This will be Barty’s first match since her Wimbledon triumph two weeks prior.  Sanders reached the semifinals in women’s doubles at The All England Club.

Elise Mertens and Alison Van Uytvanck vs. Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro – Mertens is now the world No.1 in women’s doubles, following her Wimbledon title with Su-Wei Hsieh.  Muguruza and Suarez Navarro reached the quarterfinals in women’s doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev (6) vs. Rajeev Ram and Frances Tiafoe – This is the Russians’ fifth event as a team this season, while Ram and Tiafoe are a newly-formed partnership for this event.


Juan Carlos Ferrero Remaining Positive Despite Carlos Alcaraz’s Poor Form

Juan Carlos Ferrero remains confident of Carlos Alcaraz’s abilities despite his poor form.



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Juan Carlos Ferrero is looking on the positive side despite Carlos Alcaraz’s poor form.

After winning Wimbledon last year, many people thought that Carlos Alcaraz would dominate the ATP tour over the next year.

However since then, Alcaraz has lost his world number one ranking with the Spaniard not winning a trophy since capturing his second Grand Slam title at SW19.

There are concerns that Alcaraz’s form is dipping with Jannik Sinner potentially overtaking him in potential to challenge Novak Djokovic at the big events.

Despite the lack of titles to Alcaraz’s name, there is no reason to worry for coach Juan Carlos Ferrero as he is confident that the Spaniard’s lack of form is normal, “He has been achieving good results,” Ferrero claimed in an interview with Marca.

“The Cincinnati tournament was a shame because we were one point away. At the US Open, he made the semi-finals. When you play with such good people, it is difficult to win every tournament.

“For any player, not winning tournaments can affect your confidence level. For very good players, it is important to achieve the results that one sets in their path. Of course Carlos wants to win, but I see him well, I don’t see him with any type of desire, and that is very important.

“He doesn’t have the stress of I want to win, I want to win. He wants to do things well and wants to improve in every aspect that he can, and at 20 years of age there are many. The objectives are there. Every tournament that goes, the objective is to achieve a good result.

“And if he is physically well, a great result for him is to win. When you have that level and that potential, it is not bad to think that. Then, when you don’t get it, you have to know how to manage it and come out just as motivated.”

Ferrero brings a great level of experience and composure to the Alcaraz team having been in the Spaniard’s position many times when he was a player.

The Spaniard’s experience is evident as he claimed that failure isn’t a bad thing for Alcaraz to go through, “Not every year you can win six or seven tournaments and that doesn’t mean it will be a failure,” Ferrero was quoted by tennis 365 as saying.

“[Michael] Jordan and Tiger [Woods] didn’t win every Grand Slam and every ring every year. We cannot call that a failure. There are many positive things in a year even if you have earned less.

“You may have evolved in aspects that can be useful for the future. That’s where we are. The most important thing is that he is happy, that he trains well, that traveling makes him happy and from there he generates good tennis, which is what he loves. We all agree on that.”

Alcaraz will look to return to his best when he looks to defend his title in Indian Wells which starts on the sixth of March.

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.



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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.



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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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