Novak Djokovic has been invited to play a Challenger - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic has been invited to play a Challenger



An unexpected project has been launched by Tennis Club Sanremo to help Novak Djokovic maintain his form in view of Monte Carlo

Indian Wells is underway, but the world No. 1 has been not allowed to set foot on the courts which are often thrashed by the whirling winds coming from the desert. Save for a last-minute miracle, it is also very unlikely he will be playing in Miami. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has gone to great lengths, calling on President Joe Biden for an exemption to the law which still does not allow foreigners who haven’t had the Covid vaccine to enter the US. DeSantis has said is even eager to run a boat from the Bahamas to get Djokovic into Florida. Yet the US authorities have so far appeared quite adamant.

In his recent interview with Tennis Majors Goran  Ivanisevic said that if the ban should be maintained, Novak will focus on his clay campaign, and join the Tour starting from the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters 1000 scheduled from 8th April.

The story bears some resemblance with the season 2022 when, after Dubai, Djokovic did not play any matches until he landed on the Côte d’Azur. On that occasion a shaky physical and mental form resulted in a stark loss to Davidovic Fokina.

This year Djokovic is surely going to arrive in Monte Carlo in cooler and brighter spirits than in 2022, but one point is certain: the Serbian’s agenda is going to be quite free in the next three weeks.

So, what about maintaining form and a crisp match-winning instinct by playing elsewhere? After all tennis is not just played in the US. This is the idea that has spurred Tennis Club Sanremo to invite Novak Djokovic to take part in the ATP Challenger 125 which is scheduled from March 26, while the Miami Open will be in full swing.

Not only Tennis Club Sanremo is relying on Djokovic’s need to play matches but also on the nostalgia effect, an irresistible song call “When we were young”. Indeed in May 2005, just a handful of days before turning 18 he won the 25,000 challenger in Sanremo. “It’s a very important victory for me,” he had said during the trophy presentation “and I thank the organization and the public for their support. This city brings me luck because I achieved one of my greatest victories right here in Sanremo four years ago, in the Under 14 European Championship”.

As well as these two victories, further evidence of Djokovic’s strong bond with Liguria is his relationship with Riccardo Piatti, who coached him for one year when he was 18 and has hosted him various times at his Academy in Bordighera, a stone’s throw away from Sanremo.

This invitation has taken the form of the hashtag NoleComeToSanremo, launched on social media, in the wake of the social phenomenon set up in 2017 by Besiktas footballer Ricardo Quaresma to convince his Portugal team mate Pepe to leave Real Madrid and join him in the Turkish club. The video Come to Besiktas went viral and such cajoling was successful.

In the hashtag the Sanremo Tennis Team also wrote “We still have your trophy. We are waiting for you so as to give it to you, and we hope to see you playing once more on our courts.”

Is this story going to have a movie-like end? Unfortunately this will not happen. Article 7.07 of the ATP Rulebook is clear: Players positioned 1-10 in the ATP Singles Rankings twenty-one  days prior to the first Monday of the ATP Challenger Tour tournament are prohibited from entering, accepting a wild card and/or competing in an ATP Challenger Tour tournament.

We cannot help quoting a Latin saying, dura lex, sed lex: the law is harsh, but it is the law.

Yet, it is definitely a pity when yearning and innocuous dreams are impeded from coming true. 

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Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Masters 1000 Event In Madrid

Novak Djokovic will miss the Masters 1000 event in Madrid and will look to build up his Roland Garros preparations in Rome.



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Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Masters 1000 event in Madrid as he aims for quality over quantity in his bid for Roland Garros glory.

The world number one has had a rough start to the season by his standards as he is yet to win a title this season after a semi-final defeat to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was hoping a change of surface would bring a change of fortunes but the Serb was defeated in three sets in the semi-finals of Monte-Carlo.

Now it seems that result has made Djokovic rethink his schedule as the current Roland Garros champion has withdrawn from Madrid.

No official reason has been given although the news seems to be not that surprising given Djokovic’s history in the Spanish capital.

The Serb hasn’t played since 2022, where he was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, and has now won the title there for five years.

It looks like Djokovic will be putting his faith into more favourable conditions in Rome, which is the most similar to Roland Garros in terms of conditions.

Djokovic is a six-time champion in the Italian capital and will aim for a seventh title when he plays there on the 8th of May.

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Thanasi Kokkinakis Questions ‘Insane’ Drug Testing

Thanasi Kokkinakis has been tested three times within the last six days.



Thanasi Kokkinakis has questioned persistent drug testing after he revealed he was tested three times in six days.

The Australian is in good form at the moment having won the Sarasota Challenger in Florida.

Kokkinakis claimed glory with a three set win over Zizou Bergs in the final as he continues to climb the rankings.

However that glory has been overshadowed by the fact that Kokkinakis has revealed he was drug tested three times within a six day period.

The world number 94 described it as ‘insane’ and it comes after Alexandre Muller complained of persistent drug testing after his recent defeats.

Doping has been a huge topic of conversations with Simona Halep losing two years of her career after testing positive after the US Open before the Court Of Arbitration For Sport shortened her case.

Kokkinakis will be hoping that this is the last time he has to deal with persistent drug testing as he continues his clay court season.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Saves Two Match Points To Extend Winning Streak In Barcelona

Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a scare to reach the Barcelona semi-finals.



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Stefanos Tsitsipas saved two match points to defeat Facundo Diaz Acosta 4-6 6-3 7-6(8) in Barcelona.

The former finalist saved two match points against the inspired Argentinian as Tsitsipas reached the semi-finals.

It means Tsitsipas is 9-0 in the clay court season and has the chance to set up a potential rematch with Casper Ruud in the final.

The duo met in last week’s Monte-Carlo final where Tsitsipas claimed his third title in Monaco.

Speaking after the match Tsitsipas admitted it was difficult to sustain his level, “I was coming close [to losing] at certain moments in the match. It seemed like a mountain,” Tsitsipas stated to the ATP website.

“I reminded myself that I have a headband that I wear here that has a mountain and that I need to climb it, so it kept me going. It was difficult. It was extremely difficult to sustain the same level throughout the entire match and I think he played incredible.

“I think he left everything out there. He is a good clay-court player. He has a title on the ATP Tour for a reason and today it was a level he was able to bring out on the court that made it quite obvious.

“I got a little bit tense on my serve, I won’t lie. I think I started decelerating a lot, but once I got a hold of that I was conscious of that, it went back to where it belonged and helped me a lot in the tie-breaker because if I didn’t figure it out, I don’t know. It was very mental in general. I really had to go to uncomfortable places mentally and go over the limit at some point.”

Tsitsipas is currently seven in the world in the live rankings as the Greek is looking to claim his first title in Barcelona.

Next up for the Greek will be either Dusan Lajovic or Arthur Fils while Tomas Martin Etcheverry takes on Casper Ruud in the other semi-final.

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