Novak Djokovic Begins Paris Defence With Victory - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Begins Paris Defence With Victory

Djokovic is a six-time champion in Paris-Bercy

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Novak Djokovic is through to the third round in Paris-Bercy after a 7-6(1) 6-1 win over Maxime Cressy.

The defending champion lost six points on set throughout the match and looked sharp in his ATP Masters 1000 return.

Djokovic edged the first set on a tie-break and finally broke Cressy’s big serve at 4-4 in the second.

After his win, Djokovic said ‘It was very intense, just a lot of pressure.’ He added ‘When you play someone that serves this well — first and second serve — you don’t have much room to relax and maybe play kind of a softer few games. You just have to be on your toes all the time.’

The Serb was playing the biggest hard-court tournament of his season so far. All past Masters 1000 and Major events on hard courts this year have been in the US, Canada and Australia.

Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 meant that he didn’t meet entry requirements to any of those countries. He is set to play the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin later in November.

Hubert Hurkacz Keeps Turin Hopes Alive

Elsewhere in Paris, Hubert Hurkacz defeated Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-4 to reach the second round. The Pole must win the tournament to have a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals in Turin. He next faces Stan Wawrinka or Holger Rune.

Andrey Rublev edged closer to a place in Turin after a 6-2 6-3 victory over John Isner. The 7th seed will be mathematically sure of a place if he reaches the semi-finals in Bercy.

Tommy Paul will be Rafael Nadal’s second round opponent after a 6-4 6-4 win over Roberto Bautista Agut, and Dan Evans set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas after a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory over Brandon Nakashima.

Fellow Brit Jack Draper continued his excellent season with a 6-3 6-4 win over Arthur Rinderknech, and next faces Frances Tiafoe.

Day 2 in Paris also saw Grigor Dimitrov defeat Botic Van De Zandschulp in straight sets and set up a second round meeting with Fabio Fognini. The Italian was a lucky loser at the tournament and knocked out young Frenchman Arthur Fils, who incidentally knocked out Fognini in qualifying.

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Roland Garros 2024: ‘Proud’ Iga Swiatek Seeks Consistent Improvement

Iga Swiatek continues to find improvement despite her dominance ahead of her Roland Garros opener.

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Iga Swiatek had admitted she is ‘proud’ of her clay court season but is seeking consistent improvement over the rest of the season.

The world number one is aiming for a third consecutive Roland Garros title and heads into Paris in dominant form.

Titles in Madrid and Rome with two contrasting wins over Aryna Sabalenka means she is the overwhelming favourite heading into the fortnight.

Speaking ahead of her opening match Swiatek spoke about how she is a better tennis player from 2022 and how proud she is of her clay court season so far, “I think I’m a better player because I just grew and I worked hard during the past two years,” Swiatek explained in her press conference.

“I feel like I’m progressing, so I guess I should be a better tennis player. Comparing the results, or my feelings, two years ago it was all kind of new for me, and I think I won so many matches also because nobody really expected it.

“When the streak started, I wasn’t even second in the rankings, so I think other players were also unprepared maybe for my game sometimes. Now it’s different. Now they are prepared, and I feel like I keep having a target on my back, because I’m No. 1. So I think actually I’m more proud of what’s happening right now and winning all these titles this year already has shown that we are going on the right path.”

Despite her recent dominance, Swiatek isn’t resting on her laurels as she continues to seek improvement.

The Pole has been working on several areas on her game including the serve as she has become a more aggressive player over the last couple of years.

Swiatek spoke on the changes she has made with her coach as she seeks more consistent improvement, “Changing the technique, I think it allowed me to serve faster. We worked on my placement as well, so it got better for sure. I feel like I have more options when I’m serving,” Swiatek told the Roland Garros website.

“As you could see in Rome, for example, I had many situations when I was a break point down, and I was able to kind of save the game with my first serve. So this tournament showed that we are going in the right direction. Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season. We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“But I think overall my coach from the beginning had a great idea about my serve. The other thing is me implementing it, so we are working hard for the movement to be smooth and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way.”

Swiatek will begin her campaign against qualifier Leolia Jeanjean in her opening round match on Monday with potentially Naomi Osaka awaiting in round two.

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Roland Garros 2024: Practice Makes Perfect For Carlos Alcaraz In Roland Garros Title Bid

Carlos Alcaraz is looking to overcome the pain barrier as he searches for Roland Garros glory.

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Carlos Alcaraz is bidding for a first Roland Garros title but the Spaniard will need to overcome the pain barrier in order to achieve his goal.

The world number three enters this year’s tournament with mixed preparations having suffered an injury during practice in Monte-Carlo.

Alcaraz failed to play in Barcelona, where he was defending champion, before exiting Madrid at the quarter-finals stage to eventual winner Andrey Rublev.

Despite Alcaraz’s lack of fitness, the Spaniard will feel he has a good chance of achieving a special landmark as he has the opportunity to win 75% of the career Grand Slam.

Speaking ahead of the fortnight Alcaraz admitted he is feeling better but needs to change some psychological feelings when hitting the forehand again, “I’m feeling better. At least I can practise, hit balls without pain. That’s a really good point for me,” Alcaraz explained in his pre-tournament press conference.

“I’m not feeling any pain in the practices when I step on the court. But I’m still thinking about it when I am hitting forehands. Probably I’m gonna say I’m a little bit scared about hitting every forehand 100 percent. So I have to change it in my first match.”

Roland Garros holds a special place in Alcaraz’s heart having had good memories and matches in the past with the Spaniard reaching the semi-finals last year.

Now Alcaraz is aiming to win his maiden title in Paris as he continues his development at an elite level.

The Spaniard spoke about how special Roland Garros is and spoke about how wide open this year’s tournament is given the form and fitness of Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner, “Right now, I don’t see a clear favourite to win the tournament, but there is a wide range of players who can do it,” Alcaraz explained.

“It’s Roland-Garros and it’s a really special tournament. Everybody wants to do good results here. This tournament is one of the main reasons that I’m practicing every day. I want to be a better player, to be able to win these kinds of tournaments.”

Alcaraz starts his Roland Garros on Sunday against lucky loser J.J. Wolf.

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Tomas Machac Stuns Novak Djokovic To Reach Maiden ATP Final In Geneva

Tomas Machac is into his first career ATP final after stunning Novak Djokovic in Geneva.

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Tomas Machac is into his first ATP final after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4 0-6 6-1 in Geneva.

The world number one seemed to be struggling physically throughout the contest as Machac earned the biggest win of his career.

After trailing 4-1 in the opening set, Machac played aggressive tennis against a sub-par Djokovic to win five games in a row and take the opening set.

In the second set Djokovic was back to his brilliant best as he won six consecutive games to level the match at one set all.

However the Serb was clearly struggling with his fitness and conditioning as Machac secured the biggest win of his career, reaching a first ATP final.

Speaking after the match Machac was lost for words as he looks ahead to Saturday’s showdown, “I have no reaction right now, I just fought for every ball,” Machac told the ATP website.

“When you play against Novak you just hope. You just try to play your best and see what it looks like. I am looking forward to playing in a final for the first time.”

As for Djokovic, the Serb is yet to reach a final this year and will need to get his form back on track as he prepares to begin his Roland Garros title defence against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

Meanwhile Machac will play either Casper Ruud or Flavio Cobolli in the final.

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