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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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Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup

Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day

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Image via Laver Cup twitter

After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.

 

Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”

American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.

“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”

After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:

“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”

The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:

“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”

Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”

Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.

Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.

Results:
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2

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ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more

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After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10

 

By Roberto Ferri

Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”

Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.

TOP 20

PositionPlayerCountryPts+/-
1DjokovicSerbia117951
2AlcarazSpain8535-1
3MedvedevRussia7280
4RuneDenmark4710 
5TsitsipasGreece46152
6RublevRussia45152
7SinnerItaly4465-1
8FritzUSA39551
9RuudNorway3560-4
10ZverevGermany30302
11TiafoeUSA2690-1
12de MinaurAustralia26851
13PaulUSA26601
14Auger-AliassimeCanada23401
15KhachanovRussia2135-4
16HurkaczPoland20351
17NorrieGB1985-1
18MusettiItaly1925 
19SheltonUSA173528
20DimitrovBulgaria1735-1

A few comments:

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.

Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.

Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.

Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively  at the 2022 US  Open, drop 4 positions.

One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.

ATP NITTO FINALS

From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.

RankPlayerCountryPts+/-
1DjokovicSerbia89451
2AlcarazSpagna8175-1
3MedvedevRussia6590 
4SinnerItalia4365 
5RublevRussia36401
6TsitsipasGrecia3570-1
7RuneDenmark3055 
8ZverevGermania3030 
9FritzUSA3010 
10RuudNorway2625 

Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.

Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.

The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.

Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.

ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS

The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB ATP rank
1AlcarazSpain817520032
2RuneDenmark305520034
3SheltonUSA1455200219
4MusettiItaly1300200218
5FilsFrance953200444
6Van AsscheFrance597200469
7StrickerSwitzerland576200290
8MichelsenUSA4922004117
9MedjedovicSerbia4852003121
10CazauxFrance4552002130
11CobolliItaly4052002132
12Llamas RuizSpain3702002133

Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.

BEST RANKING

Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.

We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.

The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.

PlayerPositionCountryProgress
Shelton19USA28
Jarry22Chile3
Baez28Argentina4
Fils44France4
Arnaldi47Italy14
Altmaier49Germany4
O’Connell53Australia16
Seyboth Wild76Brazil30
Gojo77Croatia28
Watanuki78Japan7
Mmoh81USA8
Hijkata83Australia27
Stricker90Switzerland38

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open

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Love him, or hate him. But respect him.

 

No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.

Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.

Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.

DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER

Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.

It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.

Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.

A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE

At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.

The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.

Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.

Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.

THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE

Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.

Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.

The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.

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

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