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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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Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking

This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.

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ATP RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.

Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”

Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.

So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.

Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)

At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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Image via https://twitter.com/OBNmontreal/

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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Canada Daily Preview: Two Clashes Between Top 10 Seeds in the Third Round

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Felix Auger-Aliassime practicing this week in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

On Thursday, all third round matches will take place in both Montreal and Toronto, making for another extremely busy day of tennis.  And two of those third round encounters see top 10 seeds collide.  In Montreal, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime faces Cam Norrie in a rematch from last Friday’s Los Cabos semifinals.  In Toronto, Aryna Sabalenka plays Coco Gauff, who survived an extended battle on Wednesday against Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in Toronto and 12:00pm local time in Montreal.


Aryna Sabalenka (6) vs. Coco Gauff (10) – 11:00am on Grandstand in Toronto

Gauff’s second-round victory on Wednesday was a grueling affair.  After failing to convert four match points in the second-set tiebreak, Coco finally prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.  And she did so despite striking 13 double faults, a part of her game that continues to trouble her.  Sabalenka spent over an hour less time on court, defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo in straight sets.  Gauff leads their head-to-head 2-1, though all three meetings have been rather tight.  And of late, Coco has been the much stronger performer.  Going back to her run to the French Open final, Gauff has claimed 15 of her last 19 matches.  By contrast, Sabalenka arrived in Toronto having lost three of her last four.  While Coco will surely feel a bit tired on Thursday, she’ll also feel relieved having escaped what would have been a heartbreaking loss a day earlier, and should play a bit more freely.  And most importantly, she’s currently feeling much more confident than Sabalenka.


Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Not Before 4:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Last week in Los Cabos, Norrie took out Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.  However, that was Cam’s first victory over Felix in five tries.  The previous four had all gone the way of the Canadian, including another hard court matchup earlier this year in Rotterdam.  Auger-Aliassime pulled out a dramatic first-set tiebreak on Wednesday night over Washington runner-up Yoshihito Nishioka in thrilling fashion, eventually prevailing in straights.  Earlier in the day, Norrie advanced comfortably, allowing Botic van de Zandschulp only three games.  Just six days removed from their last encounter, Felix will be eager for revenge, especially at his home country’s biggest event.  But playing at home comes with a lot of pressure, and Auger-Aliassime is only 3-4 in his last seven matches.  Cam is the more in-form player, and should be favored to earn his second win over Felix in less than a week.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Camila Giorgi – Giorgi is the defending champion, and is yet to drop a set through two matches.  Last year in the semifinals of this same event, she defeated Pegula in three.  But overall the American leads their head-to-head 5-2 at all levels, and has twice defeated Camila since that semifinal.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alex de Minaur – It’s Australian versus Australian, and the Washington champ against the Atlanta champ.  Kyrgios upset world No.1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, and has now won 13 of his last 14 matches.  De Minaur has already defeated Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov this week. 

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia – In typical Swiatek fashion, she required just over an hour to prevail over Ajla Tomljanovic in her opening match.  Haddad Maia eliminated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez on Wednesday, and won 13 straight matches on grass in June.

Bianca Andreescu vs. Qinwen Zheng – Andreescu outlasted Alize Cornet on Wednesday night in a tight three-setter.  Qinwen benefitted from Ons Jabeur’s retirement due to abdominal pain during their second round matchup. 


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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