Novak Djokovic On US Open Loss - ‘I Was Below Par On Everything’ - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic On US Open Loss – ‘I Was Below Par On Everything’

The Serbian reacts to his heartbreaking defeat and explains the reasons behind his latest performance.

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Novak Djokovic during a Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Andrew Ong/USTA)

A bitterly disappointed Novak Djokovic admits that a hectic past few months caught up with him after falling short of winning what would have been a record 21st major title at the US Open.

The world No.1 came into the final against Daniil Medvedev on a 27-match winning streak in major tournaments and was on the verge of achieving a Calendar Slam. Something that hasn’t been done on the men’s Tour for 53 years. However, the Serbian looked fatigued on the court and struggled to keep up with the intensity of his opponent. In his four previous matches, Djokovic has been forced to come back from a set down.

“I was just below par with my game. My legs were not there. I was trying. I did my best. I made a lot of unforced errors. I didn’t have — no serve really,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said during his press conference.
“If you’re playing someone like Medvedev who hits his spots so well, just aces, gets a lot of free points on his first serve, you’re constantly feeling pressure on your service games.’
“I was below par with everything, to be honest. So just one of these days where unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”

Historically Medvedev had been a troublesome player for Djokovic on the Tour with him losing to him three times in their five most recent meetings prior to New York. According to the ATP, Medvedev is the only active player to have a winning head-to-head record over the Serbian when he is ranked one in the world.

The crucial point of the final occurred during the second set where Djokovic had various opportunities to break early on but failed to capitalize. Prompting him to smash his racket on the ground and receive a code violation. Djokovic’s inability to produce his best tennis was initially attributed to the matches he played earlier in the tournament but there was also another reason.

“I had more hours on the court than Daniil, that’s for sure. But it was also an emotionally very demanding period for me in the last five, six months. Slams, Olympics, and playing at home in Belgrade. Everything was coming together for me here and kind of accumulating all the emotions that I’ve been through,” he admits.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the final step. But when you draw a line, you have to be very satisfied with the year. Three wins, three slams and a final. For the last couple of years, I’ve been very transparent and vocal about my goals, to play my best tennis at slams. I’m managing to do that.”

Perhaps the loss would have been more brutal if it wasn’t for the New York crowd who gave a standing ovation to the 34-year-old. Somebody who has previously experienced some hostility from fans during matches.

“The crowd made me feel very special. I did not know, I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever.”

Despite having a mainly successful season with various accolades, there are signs that the landscape of men’s tennis is gradually changing with the Big Three not being as formidable as they once were. Djokovic was the only member of the trio to play in New York with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal being sidelined with injury.

Whether or not a change in the guard is starting with the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Djokovic argues that it is crucial for the sport to look at the wider picture.

“We are hoping that the transition will be smooth in terms of the attention and the popularity of this sport. It’s very important. We all, of course, want to win on the court, but at the same time we all at the top represent this sport. We need to be aware of that, take this responsibility and try to bring more fans to the world of tennis.” He concluded.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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