US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays for the Grand Slam Against Daniil Medvedev - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays for the Grand Slam Against Daniil Medvedev

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Novak Djokovic after his semifinal win on Friday (twitter.com/usopen)

Novak Djokovic is just one match away from achieving what no player has done since 1988 (Steffi Graf) and no man has done since 1969 (Rod Laver): completing the Grand Slam.  It’s a term often misused to describe a Major tournament, but the Grand Slam is specifically winning all four Majors in the same calendar year.  Incredibly, it would also be his 21st Major overall, surpassing both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most all-time in the men’s game.  This could be one of the most monumental days in tennis history.

 

But Daniil Medvedev is keen to play spoiler.  This is the third Major final for the 25-year-old Russian, which have all come on hard courts, his signature surface.  Two years ago at this event, he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in a thrilling championship match, winning over the same New York crowd that had booed him throughout the tournament.  Seven month ago in Australia, he was dominated by Djokovic by a score of 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.  However, it seems the Russian is ready to provide much more resistance on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – 4:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Overall Djokovic leads their head-to-head- 5-3, with the Australian Open final serving as their last encounter.  Novak leads 4-2 on hard courts, and 2-0 at Majors, with both matches occurring in Melbourne.  Medvedev’s three victories have come at Masters 1000 events and the ATP Finals.  And that’s the crucial point here: Daniil has never defeated Novak in best-of-five, nor been able to push him to a fifth set. 

Djokovic has become a master of this format, as evidenced by his run this fortnight.  He has dropped the first set in his last four matches, yet remarkably won them all rather comfortably.  Even when Sascha Zverev forced a fifth set in Friday’s semfiinals, Novak took that set 6-2.  Medvedev’s run in New York has been much more straightforward, dropping only one set.  He’s been clinical in dismissing opponents, and I found his complete lack of celebration after defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semifinals quite revealing.  Daniil fully expected to win that match, and will not be satisfied unless he takes the title.

This should be a stellar final, with so much on the line.  I do not anticipate another straight-set victory for Djokovic like earlier this year.  We really haven’t seen Novak tighten up at a crucial moment while chasing the Grand Slam at either Wimbledon or the US Open, but that must happen at some point, right?  And this is not Rod Laver Arena, where Djokovic has never lost in the championship match.  The Serbian is surprisingly only 3-5 in finals on Arthur Ashe Stadium.  I think Medvedev truly believes he can win this match, and would revel in going down in history as the player who prevented Novak from completing the Grand Slam.  However, I cannot get the words Novak said in his post-match interview on Friday out of my head: “I am going to treat my next match like it is the last match of my career.”  Djokovic realizes what a unique opportunity this is to secure two of tennis’ greatest feats on the same day, and is ready to give absolutely everything he has to make that happen.  Echoing the famous sentiment of Billie Jean King, Novak has treated the pressure of this moment as a privilege.  He has fully embraced it, and I do not see him being denied.


Also on Sunday, the women’s doubles championship will be decided, as Coco Gauff and Katy McNally play their first Major final against 2019 Australian Open champions Sam Stosur and Shuai Zhang at 1:00pm local time on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

 

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

 

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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Ons Jabeur Ready For Dubai Challenge Despite Injury Struggles

Ons Jabeur is looking to overcome injury struggles and revitalize her form in Dubai.

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Ons Jabeur is looking to be ready for Dubai this week after struggling with injuries this season.

 

The year could have started better for the Wimbledon finalist who continues to struggle with injuries.

Having struggled with knee injuries, Jabeur enters Dubai in very inconsistent form as she went out in the first round in Doha to Lesia Tsurenko.

However despite recent struggles Jabeur seems determined to continue working on solutions as she prepares for the upcoming challenge in Dubai.

Speaking ahead of the event in Dubai Jabeur reflected on her recent retirement to Tsurenko, “I think it’s the worst decision you can take because my heart wants to play and my body is not allowing me so much,” Jabeur told The National.

“I feel like I need to take the right decision and sometimes you have to take decisions where your heart is not agreeing with it. But all I know is that I’m doing my best to be ready for this tournament and be ready to play here and compete in front of amazing fans.”

The Tunisian will look to pick up form in what should be an incredible atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai.

In recent tournaments there have been football-like atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai and that’s something she is looking to capitalise on, “I think everybody knows the match against Simona was unbelievable,” Jabeur reflected on her epic match with Simona Halep in Dubai in 2020.

“We got the Tunisian fans, the Arab fans and the Romanian fans. So it was unbelievable. I would never forget that match because it was right before Covid and after that the crowd completely disappeared so I always tried to think about that match when the stadium was empty.”

Jabeur has a first round BYE in Dubai and will play a qualifier in the second round before potentially facing the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

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