Novak Djokovic's ATP Finals Fate Hangs In The Balance Despite Hurkacz Win - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic’s ATP Finals Fate Hangs In The Balance Despite Hurkacz Win

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic has recorded his second win at the ATP Finals but still faces the possibility of not qualifying for the semi-final stage of the tournament. 

The world No.1 beat Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-1, in what is his seventh consecutive win over the Pole in his career. Djokovic, who is aiming to win the season-ending title for a record seventh time, fired 23 winners and won 75% of his first serving points en route to his 53rd Tour win of the season. However, he could be knocked out of the tournament tonight if Holger Rune beats Jannik Sinner. Djokovic dropped a set against Rune in his opening match and then lost to Sinner. 

I lost the set it’s normal,” a bemused Djokovic replied when quizzed about looking upset during the second set.
“It was a good win, thank you.” He added before leaving his on-court interview with TennisTV after barely 30 seconds of speaking.

After his defeat to Sinner on Tuesday, Djokovic came into his latest match knowing that a poor performance could prove fatal to his title chances. Meanwhile, Hurkacz had nothing to lose after coming into the draw as a replacement for Stefanos Tsitsipas with an extra incentive that victory would reward him an extra $390,000 in prize money. 

Taking to the court, Djokovic appeared at times to be agitated and glared towards his camp in the crowd. The Serbian’s past two matches this week lasted more than three hours and he opted not to conduct a practice session yesterday to rest. Throughout the opener, there was little to distinguish between both players as 12 games went by without a single break point opportunity arising.

However, the tiebreak was the exact opposite with the top seed storming his way through at the expense of his opponent’s mistakes. Djokovic registered four mini-breaks against Hurkacz with each one of them being achieved due to a forehand unforced error from the Pole. A somewhat anti-climatic outcome to the 55-minute opener.

The match momentum took a turn five games into the second frame with Djokovic falling behind 0-40 before hitting a double fault to gift his opponent a break for 3-2. At one stage the world No.11 won 13 points in a row to dictate proceedings. Djokovic’s mood deteriorated further after failing to convert two break back points when down 3-4 as he faced some heckling from the crowd. Paving the way for Hurkacz to force a decider. 

After the blip, the 24-time Grand Slam winner regained control in the third set by winning four out of the first five games played against his erratic rival. Rewarding him enough of a margin to close seal yet another roller-coaster victory at the Pala Alpitour.

“I really don’t care. I did my job, so let’s see what happens. If I qualify for semis, I’ll think about it tomorrow.” Djokovic told the Tennis Channel when asked if he would send some ‘inspirational texts’ to Sinner ahead of his clash with Sinner.

As a result of the score, Sinner has qualified for the semi-final stage regardless of how he performs in his evening match against Rune. He has become the first Italian to reach the last four of the ATP Finals in its 54-year history. 

Green Group scenarios

  • If SINNER defeats RUNE, then SINNER wins the group and DJOKOVIC qualifies 2nd.
  • If RUNE defeats SINNER in 2 sets, then RUNE wins the group and SINNER qualifies 2nd.
  • If RUNE defeats SINNER in 3 sets, then RUNE wins the group and SINNER qualifies 2nd.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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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. 

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

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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 £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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