Novak Djokovic Denies Being Roland Garros Favourite, Praises Alcaraz - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Novak Djokovic Denies Being Roland Garros Favourite, Praises Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic has denied being the favourite for Roland Garros as he searches for a 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris.

Published

on

Novak Djokovic denies being the Roland Garros favourite as he heaped praise on Carlos Alcaraz ahead of the tournament.

After winning only five matches on clay this season, Novak Djokovic is the third seed in Paris after being overtaken by Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev who claimed the title in Madrid and Rome.

Despite this Djokovic may be perceived to be the favourite to claim his 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris as he is the most experiences amongst the favourites.

However speaking ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year Djokovic dismissed being the favourite and claimed that title goes to Alcaraz, “Well, it’s no secret that one of the main reasons I play today and compete in professional tennis is to try to break more records and make more history in tennis. That’s extremely motivating and inspiring for me,” Djokovic started his monologue by explaining.

“But as I said, at the same time, you know, things are different than they were 10 years ago in terms of how my body is maybe responding to the schedule. You know, I’m playing season after season. So early in the year I was saying that I put emphasis and priority on the Grand Slams, so I’m feeling good at the moment.

“I don’t have any physical issues that worry me. So that’s most important for me. You know, I want to feel good coming into a Grand Slam. So part of me is, of course, you know, confident and always aspires to win Grand Slams and biggest titles in this sport, but I also have to be humble about the fact that things are a bit different, you know, with the way I’m feeling on the court month after month, you know. The beating is harder than it was before, physically.

“Yeah, you have big names, of course, like Alcaraz, he’s No. 1 in the world, and probably the biggest favorite in the tournament. You know, Tsitsipas and Medvedev, they have started playing great on clay. And Rune, Ruud, Zverev, knows how to play big events, can always do damage against anybody.

“So I think the tournament is quite open, to be honest. Maybe a few guys that are at the top of the favorites list, but anyone can take it. I’m hoping it can be me.”

It’s clear that Djokovic isn’t the most prepared he’s been for a Grand Slam but to hear that the Serb’s injury is getting better is good news for the tournament as Djokovic bids for more history in Paris.

When talking about Alcaraz, Djokovic expanded on what makes him the favourite at Roland Garros, “Because he’s No. 1 in the world, and he’s a player that won big titles on clay this season. So right now, you know, he is the biggest favorite regardless of the fact that he has, you know, 1 Grand
Slam and I have 22,”
Djokovic emphatically said.

“I mean, still, we look at the last few months and the kind of shape and the form that he’s having and that I’m having, I think he’s a slightly bigger favourite.

“But then again, as I said, Grand Slams are a different tournament, a different sport in a way, because you’re, you know, playing best-of-five, you are playing in the most important tournaments in the world, and the experience is on my side, but how much will that play a role in eventual head-to-head if I get to play him or not, we’ll get to see.

“But in terms of looking at it from the perspective of the game itself and the form, I think he’s the No. 1 favourite now.”

It’s clear that Djokovic rates the Spaniard highly as Alcaraz bids to improve on his quarter-final performance from last year.

Finally Djokovic spoke about one player that would have been the favourite here had he been playing.

Of course that player is the defending champion and long-time rival of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal.

Speaking about Nadal’s absence Djokovic admitted he won’t miss Nadal being in the draw and said that Nadal’s press conference in Mallorca made him ponder about his own career, “Well, honestly, I don’t miss him being in the draw, you know,” Djokovic jokingly said.

“You know, I don’t like seeing him in the draw of Roland Garros, to be honest, you know. I have had not so much success against him in our records head-to-head in Roland Garros.

“I have managed to beat him twice, but, you know, I had to leave my heart and my guts out on the court to achieve that. So I know how hard it is to play him anywhere, really, around the world, but especially here.

“But, you know, of course as a tennis fan and someone that is also part of the tennis ecosystem, you always want to win, to see the best tennis players in the world, the most famous tennis players in the world playing.

“So he’s definitely one of the guys that not only has made a history in terms of his records in this tournament overall, but just he won the hearts of many tennis fans around the world, and deservedly so, with his charisma and character and everything that he left in his legacy.

“He’s really exemplary player for that. So for sure he will be missed this season, and hopefully can come back. I think he said somewhere around end of the season, last few months of the season, and then he said that next
year will be his last.

“So, you know, that news came in a way as a shock to everybody, you know. People were asking me how I felt when he said that, you know, and I have to say that, you know, I was saying that always that he’s my biggest rival.

“When he announced that he’s going to have his last season of career, you know, I felt part of me is leaving with him too, if you know what I mean. Yeah, it made me wonder, you know, it made me think about my career and how long I’m going to play.

“So far I’m not going to make any announcement today, but just reflecting on it, you know, I felt also a little bit emotional about what he was saying.”

Before retirement, Djokovic will feel he has a few more Grand Slam runs in him and he will hope Paris is the start of that where the Serb will face Aleksandar Kovacevic.

ATP

Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

Published

on

Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive ÂŁ2,700,000 in prize money. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending