“I Will Leave Tennis In 23, 24 Years,” Says US Open Champion Novak Djokovic - UBITENNIS
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“I Will Leave Tennis In 23, 24 Years,” Says US Open Champion Novak Djokovic

The Serbian legend has no intention to retire while he’s still at the top



image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES/

By Anshu Taneja

Immediately after winning his fourth US Open title and becoming the oldest men’s champion in the Open Era, Novak Djokovic revealed he has no desire to quit.

Following Roger Federer’s recent retirement and Rafael Nadal’s impending departure, Djokovic has faced the inevitable question of leaving the sport he loves dearly multiple times, not only from the world’s media and fans, but also from himself.

“I occasionally ask myself, why do I need this still at this stage after all I have done, you know? How long do I want to keep going? I do have these questions in my head, of course. But knowing that I play at such a high level still, and I win the biggest tournaments in this sport,  I don’t want to leave this sport if I’m still at the top, if I’m still playing the way I’m playing.” Said Djokovic. 

In order to stay at the very pinnacle of one of the most demanding sports for over fifteen years, 36-year-old Djokovic has had to constantly reinvent himself. His resilience, defensive skills and ability to survive in points, all-court movement, unbelievable flexibility, supreme technical ability and recovery from injury have all been well-documented and are now the standards all budding eight, nine and ten-year-olds wish to emulate.

But last night in New York he showed another side of his superlative talents – his ability to adapt tactics during a match. And during yesterday’s contest against 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev, one statistic stood out above all others. He won 37/44 net points. His volleys were simply outstanding, particularly when serving wide on the deuce court. 

Djokovic, who returns to World number 1 for a record-extending 390th week today, revealed some of the secrets and adjustments he has had to make over the years: 

“There are always changes happening, literally on a weekly to monthly basis in my approach to training, to recovery, to mental training.” He said. “There’s always something that I’m trying to add so that I can up my performance in my game, at least for a few percent.’
“It’s a constant process of trying to get better and trying to implement certain things that work for you and finding that formula. One of the biggest lessons I have learned probably mentally throughout my career is that even if you find a formula that works, it’s not a guarantee, and actually most likely it’s not going to work the next year.’
“You need to reinvent yourself because everyone else does. As a 36-year-old competing with 20-year-olds I probably have to do it more than I have ever done it, in order to keep my body in shape, in order to be able to recover so that I can perform on the highest level consistently. Also, mentally and emotionally to still keep the right balance between motivation so that I’m actually inspired and motivated to play the best tennis and to compete with these guys and at the same time keep the playfulness and passion for the sport.”

In a gruelling second set lasting an extraordinary one hour and 45 minutes during which the Serb appeared out of sorts and pushed to extreme physical limits, Djokovic also credited his six-year-old daughter for pulling him through those most difficult moments: 

“When I got to the court, I saw her. She was facing me when I was sitting on the bench. And she smiled at me,” he reflected. “Every single time I needed that kind of innocent child energy, I got it from her. When I was going through the very stressful moments, particularly in the second set when I needed a little bit of a push, of a strength, of, yeah, just lightness, I guess, she gave me a smile, a fist pump’.
“She was into it. It’s so funny to see that and so interesting to see that she’s six years old, my son is nine, and they were both there. They’re both aware of what’s happening. When I became a father that was one of my wishes, that I would live the day to experience winning a slam in front of them and they realize what’s going on, that they are old enough to understand what’s going on. I’m just super blessed that that was the case twice this year in front of them, in Paris and also here.”

Much has been said in recent years about the so-called Next-Gen of stars and talent coming through in the men’s game, but Djokovic, who picked up $3m in prizemoney and has now won three of the four Slams in a Calendar year for a fourth time, has distanced himself from all of the pretenders to his throne – except for a certain young Spanish superstar: Carlos Alcaraz. 

And looking ahead to next season, Djokovic praised Alcaraz for keeping the fire burning in his belly: “I said all I needed to say in a positive way about Carlos, I do really mean it. I did play three epic matches with Alcaraz this year. I think it’s great for our sport that we have another very good rivalry.”

Djokovic, who has remarkably won 24 of the 36 Slam Finals he has played, admitted he had a ‘little’ regret for not winning Wimbledon to complete a perfect Grand Slam season, but also that he had a lot more to be happier and content with.

And who would bet against a happy and motivated Djokovic adding more to his Slam tally over the next two years?

There is no limit to what this Serbian legend will achieve.


Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident



Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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