Novak Djokovic is unlikely to miss the upcoming Australian Open because ‘he loves the sport too much,’ according to one of his former coaches.
Boris Becker believes the world No.1 won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to break the all-time record for most major singles titles won by a male player at Melbourne Park. Uncertainty has been cast over Djokovic’s appearance at the tournament due to its strict entry requirements. Last Friday Tennis Australia confirmed that all participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with a government health mandate in the region.
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to speak publicly about his vaccination status which has fuelled speculation about if he will travel to Australia. When questioned about his plans for next year at the ATP Finals, the Serbian replied ‘we’ll have to wait and see’ without elaborating any further.
However, Becker says the tennis star will have to follow the rules and believes he will do so. Becker is a seven-time Grand Slam champion himself who mentored Djokovic between 2014-2016.
“I can’t imagine that he won’t play in Australia,” he told Eurosport Germany’s podcast, Das Gelbe vom Ball.
“He loves the sport too much for that, he loves tennis history too much for that. He wants to reach the 21 Grand Slam wins. Australia is his best Grand Slam. He has already won nine times there. Why shouldn’t he win a 10th time?
“He says it is his personal decision whether to get vaccinated or not. It is nobody’s business. I’m with him on that.
But if he wants to play on the tennis tour – and we’re also having this discussion about [Bayern Munich footballer] Joshua Kimmich – then you just have to follow the rules. That means you have to be vaccinated in order to play.
“That applies to Djokovic, that applies to Kimmich and that applies to every athlete who is at home in their respective sport.”
Djokovic has won the past three editions of the Australian Open with his win-loss record currently standing at 82-8. He has won the men’s title more times than any other player in history and it was in Melbourne where he won his maiden Grand Slam back in 2008.
Sharing a somewhat different view on Djokovic’s potential appearance in Australia next year, former world No.1 Mats Wilander said he ‘wouldn’t be surprised at all’ if he didn’t go. The Swedish tennis great told Eurosport that whilst the tournament is Djokovic’s most successful, he cast doubt on if it is the most important to him when compared to other major events.
“Is the Australian Open the most important tournament in his career? Well, it is the most successful Grand Slam for him. I’m not sure if it is more important than the French Open or Wimbledon or the US Open, but it is his most successful Slam,” said Wilander.
“It would be the most natural place for him to break the tie of 20 Grand Slams with Roger and Rafa. But at the same time, Novak Djokovic, I think, is thinking about his own health.
He’s thinking about the future. He’s thinking long-term, and so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Novak doesn’t go.”
Djokovic is currently in Austria for the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals. It is unclear as to when he will make a final decision on his plans for the new season. Should he be vaccinated, he will have to board a charter flight between December 27 and January 3 and provide a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival in Australia.
Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.
Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation.
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune.
However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing.
“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”
Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face.
“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said.
25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match.
Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th.
Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
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