Players Are Extra Motivated To Beat Me, Says Novak Djokovic - UBITENNIS
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Players Are Extra Motivated To Beat Me, Says Novak Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic doesn’t intend to dwell too much on his surprise defeat to Jannik Sinner at the ATP Finals on Tuesday but admits that his opponents always appear to be extra motivated to beat him. 

The world No.1 was ousted in a three-set thriller by Sinner after over three hours of pulsating play. It is the first time he has suffered a defeat on the Tour since losing in the final of Wimbledon to Carlos Alcaraz in July. Before playing Sinner this week, he was on a 19-match winning streak and had never lost to the Italian.

“You have to just congratulate him. He just played a fantastic match. That’s what I told him at the net. I think in the most important moments, he played his best game and he absolutely deserved to win.” Djokovic said in tribute to his opponent.
“I don’t think I’ve done too many things wrong in terms of my game. He just was more decisive and courageous in the moments when he needed to be. He made some amazing points, and played exactly the shots he needed to play.” He added. 

It is only the sixth time this season that the Serbian has lost a match with four of those defeats being to players participating in this week’s ATP Finals – Sinner, Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev. It is also the first time he has been beaten at the ATP Finals since 2021 when he lost the title match to Alexander Zverev. 

Given his status in the world of tennis, Djokovic is used to having a target on his back. Speaking about the young guns at this week’s tournament, the 36-year-old says it is ‘normal’ for them to be over-motivated to beat him.

“I don’t think there is anything strange about that. It’s normal they want to beat me. I was experiencing already these kind of feelings that every single player is motivated even more to beat me anywhere I play in the world,” he explained
“It’s normal to lose some of my matches like this (against Sinner), but I have to be content with the fighting spirit. I managed to make a comeback from set down, break down in the third set. Played in really challenging and difficult conditions on the court.’
“I’m proud of the fight that I put in. It just wasn’t enough for the win.”

One of the challenges he faced was the highly animated crowd of roughly 14,000 spectators with the majority of them cheering on their home player Sinner. At times he received booing from the stands and made a couple of sarcastic gestures towards them. 

“It was expected,” Djokovic commented on the crowd reception. “Obviously with him being the only Italian in the tournament, playing in Italy, there was a big hype and a big excitement for him to play in front of his home crowd. He’s in great form. It’s normal that the crowd wanted him to win.”

Djokovic will return to action on Thursday when he will play his final group match against Hubert Hurkacz who has been brought into the competition to replace Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas has been forced to withdraw from the event due to a back injury. 

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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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