Novak Djokovic Speaks About Burden Of Grand Slam Tennis Ahead Of Historic US Open - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Speaks About Burden Of Grand Slam Tennis Ahead Of Historic US Open

Novak Djokovic spoke about nerves and his rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz ahead of his bid to win a 24th Grand Slam title.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has admitted there is nerves and a burden ahead of a historic US Open campaign.

The Serb enters the US Open in fine form as he played his first tournament since Wimbledon in Cincinnati where he gained revenge on Carlos Alcaraz in an epic final to win the title.

Djokovic’s win in Cincinnati means that if he wins his opening round match against Alexandre Muller then he will become world number one regardless of what Alcaraz does.

However Djokovic is more focused on a 24th Grand Slam title in New York as he makes his return to the US Open after a one year absence.

Speaking ahead of the fortnight in New York, Djokovic said that he feels a lot of nerves and spoke about the burden of Grand Slam tennis, “Well, I get nervous as anybody else really. People think that I don’t have any stress or tension. Actually in contrary, I have quite a lot of that,” Djokovic admitted in his pre-tournament press conference.

“I have to deal with it, manage it. Everyone has their own way of managing the emotions and trying to be in optimal balance emotionally, mentally, and physically in order to perform their best.

“Well, Grand Slams are the biggest goals that I have in my career at the moment. I always speak about that, that I aim to peak and perform my best in Grand Slams. I don’t know how many more slams I’ll have. I’ll still keep going. I don’t have an end in my mind at the moment.

“I also understand that things are different when you’re 36, so I have to be more appreciative, a bit more I guess present, treating every Grand Slam as maybe your last one in terms of commitment and performance.

“I see this every Grand Slam that I play right now as really a golden opportunity to make more history. Of course, there’s a big significance to that. I wouldn’t say adds a bit more, the fact I haven’t played here for two years, it’s just the feeling is pretty much the same.

“There’s always these expectations, excitement, and ambition to win the title. That’s pretty much the same this year.”

The expectation for Djokovic is history and history only as he looks to win a fourth US Open title.

Standing in Djokovic’s way will be Carlos Alcaraz who the Serb beat in a three set thriller in Cincinnati.

The second seed reflected on why that title meant so much to him and said he’s not thinking about a potential final against the Spaniard just yet, “That’s why I fell on the ground after I won the match because it felt like winning a Grand Slam, to be honest,” Djokovic said about the Cincinnati final,

“The amount of exchanges and rallies. It was physically so demanding and gruelling that I felt very exhausted for the next few days. Those are kind of the moments in matches that I still push myself on a daily basis for day in and day out, practice, sacrifice, commitment. At 36, still have the drive.

“I think it’s also in a way disrespectful to your next opponent if you’re already thinking about your finals matchup. Even though I’ve had tremendous success, maybe you could argue that I could already start thinking about later phases and stages in the tournament, but that kind of mindset never really resonated with me.

“But Carlos is No. 1 in the world. He’s definitely one of the best players in the world the last couple years. Sure, there’s always an eye that follows him from my team, from any other team. I know that the same goes for me probably.

“We follow each other. I’m sure his team watches my matches. My team watches his matches. It’s no secret. But seriously working on a practice court on something that is related to Alcaraz, it only happens if I get to play him.”

Djokovic will begin his US Open campaign on Monday on Arthur Ashe Stadium when he plays in the second night session match.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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