Djokovic Slips To Third As Medvedev Tops ATP Rankings

Novak Djokovic was denied aces to participate in the Australian Open despite ab exemption from two panels of medical experts
In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attends an open air press conference in Belgrade. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Daniil Medvedev returned to the top of the ATP rankings on Monday, ahead of Alexander Zverev, with Novak Djokovic slipping out of the top two for the first time in nearly four years.

The 26-year-old Russian, who was surprisingly beaten by Tim van Rijthoven in the final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Sunday, briefly occupied the number one spot for two weeks at the end of February and the beginning of March.

But with Djokovic losing in the quarter-finals at the French Open, where he was defending champion, the door opened for Medvedev to rise again to top spot.

Medvedev is unable to compete at Wimbledon as Russian and Belarusian players have been barred following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rankings points, however, will not be awarded.

Zverev climbs to number two for the first time having spent a total of 56 weeks since November 2017 at number three. The German, however, is facing a spell on the sidelines after tearing ligaments in his right ankle during his French Open semi-final with Nadal.

Djokovic’s grip on the number one ranking had already been weakened by his exclusion earlier in the year, because of Covid regulations, from the Australian Open where he was also the defending champion.

It is the first time since October 2018 that Djokovic is not in the top two.

Rafael Nadal, who beat the Serb at Roland Garros and went on to take the title for the 14th time, stays at number four, now only 245 points behind his great rival.

Casper Ruud, who was overwhelmed by Nadal in the Paris final, reached his best career ranking of fifth in the world, up one place ahead of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Former world number one Andy Murray climbed 21 places to 48 following his journey to the final in Stuttgart at the weekend while Medvedev’s conqueror Van Rijthoven jumped 99 places from 205 to 106.

ATP rankings as of June 13, 2022 (players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice):

1. Daniil Medvedev 7950 pts (+1)

2. Alexander Zverev (GER) 7075 (+1)

3. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6770 (-2)

4. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6525

5. Casper Ruud (NOR) 5050 (+1)

6. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 4945 (-1)

7. Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 4893

8. Andrey Rublev 4125

9. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3895

10. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 3570

11. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 3455

12. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3258 (+1)

13. Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3185 (-1)

14. Taylor Fritz (USA) 2920

15. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 2473 (+1)

16. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2325 (-1)

17. Marin Cilic (CRO) 2130

18. Reilly Opelka (USA) 2100

19. Pablo Carreno (ESP) 1965

20. Roberto Bautista (ESP) 1858.

FIRST 11: Serena Williams’ Chelsea Ownership Push+Top Sports Stories This Week

 

With the sanctions on Russian businesses biting harder, the quest for a new Chelsea owner has been ramped up. This time, tennis icon Serena Williams and F1 great Lewis Hamilton, are the ones pushing to own a stake in the Premier League club.  

The Super Eagles also knew their opponents for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers just as the team’s former coach Gernot Rohr awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack.  These and more are some of the top sports stories covered in First 11 this week.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Bidders Set To Discover Their Fate

Condolences Pour As Ronaldo Loses Baby

We kick off from England where torrents of condolence messages have been poured in for Cristiano Ronaldo following his son’s death. The former Real Madrid star and wife confirmed their baby boy’s demise in a social media post.

Manchester United, his former clubs, players, and fans thronged social media to comfort the multiple Champions League winner over the sad incident.

The Portuguese star was excused from United’s tie with Liverpool earlier in the week. He, however, was available for selection as the Red Devils lost to Arsenal on Saturday.

Maguire Gets Bomb Threat

Still in Manchester United. Team captain Harry Maguire received a bomb threat but it was unknown who was behind it.

Cheshire Constabulary swept the 29-year-old’s home to ensure his safety. Maguire was up for selection against the Gunners.

The English defender, who stays with his fiancee and two kids, is having a turbulent campaign and has been the subject of stinging criticism from pundits and jeers from fans.

Man United Name Coach

Meanwhile, Manchester United has appointed Erik ten Hag as their manager next season.

The 52-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, faces a huge task to revive the Red Devils’ fortunes after a fifth consecutive trophyless season. The Dutchman becomes the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent the 20-time English champions into decline.

Drogba, Others Inducted Into EPL Hall of Fame

Equally, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes was in the news this week. The Englishman joined Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero as the latest inductee into the EPL Hall of Fame.

Vincent Kompany, Ian Wright, and Peter Schmeichel alongside Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira are also in the “Class of 2022” inductees.

Serena, Hamilton Join Chelsea Bid

For Man United’s rivals, Chelsea, the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich over Russia’s war with Ukraine are set to cause major changes in the team. The club has been up for sale and tennis icon Serena Williams as well as Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton have expressed interest in having a stake in the London side.

They will be investing about £20m into a consortium to buy Chelsea and both are part of a group of investors backing the European champions’ takeover offer spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton.

Serena and Hamilton have each pledged £10m to the bid. Lord Coe is believed to be part of the British-led consortium.

Russia, Belarussian Players Banned From Wimbledon

Aside from football, the Russian-Ukraine war is creating ripples in other sports. Earlier in the week, Russian players were barred from Wimbledon. Belarussian players were also affected, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev; Aryna Sabalenka, and women’s four Victoria Azarenka are some of the top players affected. The move drew wide criticism from players, fans, and others stakeholders in the tennis world.

But Russian officials have rejected the ban, describing it as “unacceptable”.

Nigeria Paired For AFCON Qualifiers

In Nigeria, the Super Eagles were paired with Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and either Sao Tome or Mauritius in the qualifiers for next year’s AFCON. The draws were held in Jo’burg, South Africa, and qualifications for the tournament will start in May.

The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will also be aiming to make amends for their early exit at the last AFCON. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions and won bronze in Egypt in 2019.

Rohr Awaits FIFA Verdict

The development came as a former coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. Rohr had reported the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to the football body for breaching contractual terms.

Reports suggest that FIFA had concluded their investigations and are set to deliver judgment on the $1m claims being made by former Niger Republic gaffer. The Franco-German had met all conditions in his contract but was sacked with one year left in the deal. While the NFF said it would pay Rohr his salary until the end of his contract, the ex-Niger boss took the NFF to FIFA. He is seeking compensation for his ‘unfair’ dismissal.

Kano Pillars Sanctioned, Banished

On the local scene, Kano Pillars were sanctioned for fans’ hooliganism. The former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions were fined N9m and banished to Abuja for the rest of the season following the incident which took place last weekend. The club’s fans have, however, condemned the attack which led to the destruction of the visiting team’s bus.

Pele Hospitalised Again

Away from Nigeria, football great Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo as part of his treatment for colon cancer.

But the clinical condition of Edson Arantes do Nascimento is “good and stable, and he should be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” the Albert Einstein Hospital said on Tuesday.

Before his diagnosis of colon cancer, which led to Pele being hospitalized for a month last year, the former star of Santos and the Brazilian team was hospitalized in Paris in 2019 and transferred to Sao Paulo to have a kidney stone removed.

Five years before then, he was in intensive care due to a urinary tract infection that forced him to undergo dialysis on his left kidney. The right one was removed in the 1970s due to an injury when he was still a player.

Maradona Shirt Auction Opens

The auction for the jersey worn by Pele’s late friend, Diego Maradona, when he scored twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, kicked off with a bid of over $5 million.

Sotheby’s is selling the blue number 10 Argentina shirt in an online sale that runs until May 4. Hours after bidding opened, the site showed that the first offer of £4 million ($5.2 million) — matching the low end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimate — had been registered. That would set a new record price for a football jersey at auction.

The record for a game-worn shirt from any sport is $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

Federer Makes Winning French Open Return As Swiatek, Medvedev Progress

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning the men’s singles first round tennis match against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin at the Philippe Chatrier court on Day 2 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 31, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Roger Federer kicked off only his second French Open campaign in six years with an impressive dismissal of Denis Istomin on Monday, while reigning women’s champion Iga Swiatek and men’s second seed Daniil Medvedev both reached round two.

The 39-year-old Federer, level with Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam singles titles, saw off Uzbek Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

“It’s a great pleasure to return. It was important to have some rehabilitation and lots of training,” said Federer, seeded eighth.

Poland’s Swiatek, celebrating her 20th birthday, saw off her good friend Kaja Juvan 6-0, 7-5 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Medvedev, who had lost in the first round in all of his four previous appearances in the tournament, put his poor clay-court form behind him by beating the dangerous Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

Later on Monday, Serena Williams will play the first night-session match in the competition’s history.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion’s meeting with Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania will be played behind closed doors, though, due to a 9pm Covid-19 curfew imposed by the French government.

READ ALSO: WHO Chief Hails ‘Historic’ Agreement To Strengthen Organisation

Federer arrived to Roland Garros having played only three matches since his Australian Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic last year, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The Swiss great lost to Pablo Andujar in his first clay-court match of the season earlier this month in Geneva, but struck 48 winners as he raced to victory over Istomin.

But he has been keen to play down any thoughts that he can add to his 2009 Roland Garros title.

He is competing in the tournament for only the second time since 2015 and the first time since reaching the 2019 semi-finals.

Swiatek, who became the first major singles champion from Poland last October, hit 22 winners in an impressive opening to her bid for a second straight Roland Garros triumph.

“I tried to put it behind me (being defending champion) and kind of use it in a positive way because I just know that I’m feeling good here,” said the eighth seed, who was presented with flowers on court after the match for her birthday.

“Obviously it’s different. It’s more stressful a little bit.”

– Medvedev ends miserable run –

It is not just in Paris that Medvedev has struggled on clay. The Russian had lost eight of his previous nine matches on the surface dating back to 2019.

But the two-time Grand Slam runner-up was too strong for Kazakh Bublik, setting up a second-round tie against US player Tommy Paul.

“It was a good match and I’ve been training really well,” said the 25-year-old Medvedev, who lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic in February.

“I’d never won at Roland Garros before so I really wanted to win today. To win in three sets was a brilliant match on my part.

“I struggled in recent tournaments on clay, the balls are suiting me this week though and I hope I can go a long way. I think I move well on clay but I sometimes struggle with getting the power.”

Medvedev is bidding to take advantage of being in the opposite half of the draw to 13-time champion Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, while fourth seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out on Sunday.

The early stages of the 2021 tournament have been overshadowed by Naomi Osaka’s controversial boycott of press conferences which have seen her threatened with disqualification from the event.

Her coach, Wim Fissette, told German magazine Der Spiegel on Monday that Osaka wants “to use her status to address problems”.

Organisers will be relieved that no other players have followed Osaka’s lead so far though.

“In my opinion, just having a good relationship in media, it can help you,” said Swiatek after her win.

Elsewhere on Monday, sixth seed Bianca Andreescu was dumped out after losing a marathon first-round match with Slovenia’s world number 85 Tamara Zidansek 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/2), 9-7.

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, the men’s 18th seed, saved a match point against home favourite Pierre-Hugues Herbert to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4.

In-form Norwegian 15th seed Casper Ruud got the better of Benoit Paire 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), while former women’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova came from a set down to beat Kaia Kanepi.

AFP

Australian Open: Medvedev Powers Past Tsitsipas Into Australian Open Final

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts as he plays against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles semi-final match on day twelve of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 19, 2021. David Gray / AFP

 

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev overpowered Stefanos Tsitsipas to make his first Australian Open final Friday, where he will bid to stop world number one Novak Djokovic from clinching an unprecedented ninth title.

The fourth seed proved far too strong for Greece’s Tsitsipas, crushing him 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in front of more than 7,000 noisy fans at Rod Laver Arena to extend his win streak to 20.

The 25-year-old, ultra-confident on the back of his unbeaten run, which includes three titles, has been knocking on the door of Grand Slam success for some time, but has yet to win a title.

To finally get over the line he must on Sunday beat top seed Djokovic, who has won all eight finals he has played at Melbourne Park.

READ ALSO: Blasphemy: Italian Football Federation Fines Juventus Goalkeeper Buffon $6,000

But nobody on tour has more momentum than Medvedev, whose tricky game has stymied all opponents since November, and he has won three of his last four against the 17-time Grand Slam-winning Serb.

“It definitely wasn’t easy,” said Medvedev, only the third Russian after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin to reach the Australian Open final.

“I got a little bit scared and tight (in the third set) because it’s a semi-final of a Slam… but happy I was able to turn my game on, especially in some tight moments on my serve.”

 

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (L) and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas greet each other after their men’s singles semi-final match of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 19, 2021. Brandon MALONE / AFP

 

Medvedev came into the showdown boasting a 5-1 edge in their head-to-heads and a frosty relationship stemming from Shanghai in 2019, when the popular Greek blasted his slugfest playing style as “boring”.

– Flag-waving fans –
Fifth seed Tsitsipas was backing up from a stunning five-set upset of 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, but it was an energy-sapping four-hour epic and he appeared to feel the effects.

In front of vocal, flag-waving Greek fans, the servers controlled the points as they moved to 2-2 in the opening set before the Russian, anchored to the baseline, drew first blood.

Until then, Tsitsipas had only faced eight break points in the entire tournament, but Medvedev earned two and converted on the second when the Greek sent a return long.

Medvedev, who also reached the 2019 US Open final, stayed focused and worked two set points at 5-4. But Tsitsipas defended both successfully with deep, aggressive returns as the crowd lifted their volume.

He sent down his first double-fault of the match on his third before blasting an ace and a winner to take a one-set lead.

Medvedev dominated the long rallies, with Tsitsipas needing to fight hard for every point, and he was broken again after a seven-minute marathon game when the Russian blasted a sizzling forehand down the line for 2-1 second-set advantage.

Frustrated, Tsitsipas slammed his water bottle to the ground at the changeover, with the ballkids forced to mop up the mess after it burst and sprayed everywhere.

Medvedev was commanding on serve and a glum Tsitsipas unravelled, broken again, to love, on his next game as the Russian raced through the set in 36 minutes.

He was broken again early in the third set and appeared spent, but roared on by the crowd he found new reserves to break back for 3-3.

For the first time in the match, Medvedev was under pressure but held his nerve with a glorious passing shot giving him another break for 6-5 before he calmly served out to win.

AFP