Djokovic equals Sampras, edges closer to Federer and Nadal - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic equals Sampras, edges closer to Federer and Nadal

If Djokovic were to overtake Nadal and Federer without playing in Australia or in the US it would be hard to deny him the GOAT.

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Novak Djokovic (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

His seventh triumph in the championships, the fourth in a row, stems from his class, but also from his greater mental solidity. He lost 6 sets, but he always dominated the final sets. it’s all about the points he will no longer have. It’s worth celebrating the resurrection of Kyrgios. But he won’t be able to count on the 1200 ATP points.

The best returner in history of tennis struggled against the best service on the tour. In fact he only succeeded in returning 42 of the 112 services (just 38%, counting both first and second serve) of Nick Kyrgios, who constantly served at a speed between 210 at 220 kph.

Nevertheless Novak Djokovic also in his eighth final on the Centre Court of Wimbledon – he has no longer lost there since 2013 when he was defeated by Andy Murray, first Brit to lift the Wimbledon crown after Fred Perry’s triplet (1936-1938) – was so solid in his service games (he just conceded one break, in the first set with his usual diesel start) that he triumphed in his fourth back to back Wimbledon and his 7th overall (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022) just like his idol Pete Sampras who won here seven times.

Nole always recalls seeing for tennis, Sampras and Wimbledon the first time in 1992. He’s getting the year wrong though: actually that year the tournament was won by Andre Agassi who defeated Goran Ivanisevic in a five set thriller. Sampras won his first Wimbledon title in 1993.

Yet it is definitely true that Novak asked his parents, who were running a small resort in the snowy Serbian mountains, to buy him a racket, his first racket.

That kid has gone a long way. His majors are now 21, 7 more than Sampras, One more than Federer, one less than Nadal. But the latter will be able to play the US Open whereas he likely won’t be able to.

I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or giving an exemption. Goran and I still have not spoken about the schedule. We have to sit down and see what the news are. I’m not going after points here and there. I’ll focus on Majors, on the ATP Masters 1000 I can play. I may play Laver Cup. Davis Cup is coming as well. I love playing for my country. My manager has told me that as I have won a major, being ranked in the top 20 will be enough to be able to take part in the ATP Finals in Turin. Those are the big, let’s say, tournaments that I have right now in my mind.

Nole has lost his 2000 points he earned at Wimbledon 2021 – I’ll never cease to believe that the decision to remove the points from Wimbledon 2022 was a wrong move, since it undermines the credibility of the ATP rankings – and he’s also going to lose the 1200 points he collected in the US Open 2021 final which he lost to Medvedev. Lucky for him, his decision, one year ago, to play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo rather than at the Canadian Open and Cincinnati comes as a silver lining since he won’t be dropping the points he would have surely earned if he had played the two ATP Masters 1000 on the road to the US Open.

He will be seventh in the ATP Rankings this week and if he ends up not playing until after the US Open, he will have only 3570 points left, which may not be enough to grant him a place in the top 10.

 Djokovic out of the top 10 sounds incongruous, unreal. Wrong. They may say it is his fault due to the fact that he refused to get vaccinated, but it still sounds unconvincing.

But that’s that. in this moment what counts is that he has won another Wimbledon, that he is just one behind Nadal, and that he proved to be a notch above all the other players in the last sets of every match he played.

Throughout the tournament he lost more sets than usual: one against Kwon, Van Rijthoven, Norrie, Kyrgios, and two against Sinner. The Italian is the only player who can boast he clinched two sets, the first two. The only player who succeeded in coming back from two sets to one in a major against Djokovic and winning the match was Istomin at the Australian Open 2017. But that was Djokovic’s worst year, the year of his crisis, of the guru, and of his first split with Vajda…

In the final Kyrgios proved he could be even more dangerous because in the second set, after losing his service in the second game, if he had managed to convert one of the 4 break points he earned, three of which were consecutive when Djokovic was serving the set out at 5-3, the set would likely have been decided by a tiebreak, just like the fourth. And a tiebreak with Kyrgios is never a piece of cake.

The point is that Kyrgios fell short in the key moments of the match. In the one we just mentioned he came up with at least one dismaying unforced error, in the third set, at 4-4, he squandered a 40-0 lead, which he had built up with his 21st and 22nd ace, by allowing mistakes to pour in and double-faulting. He just started ranting against his team when he only had himself to blame.

He also had an outburst against a lady sitting in the first row, claiming she had disturbed him between the first and second serve (“She’s had about 700 drinks”), he received a warning for “audible obscenity” while he was blabbering against his team in his player box as well as arguing with the umpire, leaving young Prince George shocked. Even if Kyrgios is the tweener world champion – never before in a Major had we seen two in a row, a passing shot which caught Djokovic by surprise, and a lob which didn’t – he isn’t stronger than the Serbian in terms of mental solidity

In the long rallies, but for a few fireworks of his, it was Djokovic who held the upper hand and prevailed, also thanks to his formidable backhand dropshots which Kyrgios never really got to anticipate or run down, repeatedly tumbling into the net.

When Djokovic put up resistance Nick imploded. Full credit must be given to the Aussie who hung on more than was expected, never giving in, also in the fourth set, after botching up his 40-0 lead in the nineth game. He still lacks the mental resilience which is needed when winning points gets tougher. He immediately flies into a gale of abusive words.

He served 30 aces and only Roger Federer in 2014 and 2019 had served more than 20 aces (but over 5 sets) against the best returner in the world: on those occasions too Novak came out a winner.

Indeed it was the better player who won. Scoring points that get the audience   on their feet isn’t enough. Neither can pulling rabbits out of the hat do the whole job. Continuity, solidity, relentless and bombproof concentration – and Kyrgios really did fire cannonball serves (“At times it was frustrating not being able to hit returns…”), confidence to emerge unharmed from the trickiest situations. Nevertheless, the tennis world is hugely benefited by the resurrection of Kyrgios, a tennis player who has been bestowed with an immense talent, as well as – unfortunately, with a marked rudeness. After his breakthrough in 2014 he had disappeared from the radars and no longer seemed able to feature in the final stages of the major events. I’m delighted he’s back once more after 8 years. Kyrgios too would have enjoyed those 1200 points he can’t earn. Another ATP boomerang.

Theres no need for me to explain to Ubitennis readers why Novak Djokovic is such a phenomenon, an outstanding champion. And about his future…well, I’m convinced we are going to see him play in the ATP Finals in Turin because he’ll surely reap enough points to secure a position in the top 20.

I’m also convinced that, considering his extraordinary athletic condition and his focus on the slightest details in order to preserve it, his 21st major will not be the last. Is Nada going to win more? I don’t know. But from now on Rafa will have to be on the watch, and above all overcome his recurring physical issues.

Novak is only to be hindered by his stubbornness in refusing any vaccine which may come up. However it is certain that as far as the famous GOAT debate is concerned, if Nole were to succeed in winning more majors than Nadal without playing either in Australia or in the US, this year and next year, I feel that no one could deny his right to claim such acronym.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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