Teenager Rune Upsets Djokovic To Win Paris Masters

Denmark’s Holger Rune (R) celebrates with the trophy next to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at the end of their men’s singles final tennis match on day 7 of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000.  (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

 

Danish teenager Holger Rune shocked six-time champion Novak Djokovic to clinch his first Masters’ title in Paris on Sunday after coming from a set down to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Rune, 19, became the youngest winner of the Paris tournament since Boris Becker in 1986 after beating five top-10 players in as many days.

He is the fifth first-time Masters winner this season and will be the first Danish man to break into the top 10 on Monday.

Djokovic had not lost at Bercy since his defeat to Karen Khachanov in the 2018 final, although he did not play at the tournament two years ago.

The former world number one came into Sunday’s final having won 21 of 22 matches since the start of Wimbledon, which he won for the seventh time in July to match Pete Sampras.

The Serb broke for a 3-1 lead as Rune served back-to-back double faults in what was his fourth successive final, but first at the Masters level.

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Djokovic comfortably held out to pocket the opening set and looked to have Rune on the ropes when he surged 40-0 ahead on his opponent’s serve in the first game of the second set.

But Rune battled back superbly to thwart Djokovic and then swung the momentum in his favour by immediately breaking to go 2-0 up the following game, which proved enough to force a decider.

The 16-year age gap between the pair was the biggest in a Masters final since Rafael Nadal, then 19, defeated 35-year-old Andre Agassi in Montreal in 2005.

Rune’s inexperience resurfaced when he double-faulted attempting a big second serve to hand Djokovic a 3-1 edge, but the Dane showed his remarkable character to break back straight away.

Instead it was Djokovic who cracked when the pressure was highest, spearing a forehand wide to present Rune with the chance to serve for the trophy.

Rune withstood six break points in a marathon final game before securing the title after two hours and 34 minutes to complete an incredible week in the French capital.

AFP

Novak Djokovic Wins 90th Career Title With Astana Victory

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns a ball to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles final match at the Astana Open tennis tournament in Astana on October 9, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

 

Novak Djokovic claimed the 90th title of his career and the fourth of 2022 with a dominant straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP final in Astana on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes to add to the trophies he won this season in Israel, Rome and Wimbledon.

It was the ninth consecutive match victory for the fourth seed, who guaranteed himself a spot at the 2022 ATP Finals as a result of the win.

“I dared to dream, actually,” Djokovic replied when asked if he had ever imagined he would win 90 titles.

“I always hoped that I would be going to have a great career. Obviously, didn’t know the number of finals I was going to play, the number of tournaments I was going to win, but my intention was always to reach the highest heights in our sport.”

The Serb won in Tel Aviv a week ago, his first singles tournament since wrapping up a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st Grand Slam title in July.

He was banned from the US Open and the entire North American hard court swing over his refusal to be vaccinated before returning for Roger Federer’s farewell in the Laver Cup team event in London last month.

His time away had increased his motivation, and he agreed. “Well, it did,” Djokovic said. “I could not ask for a better restart of the season. I’m super-pumped and motivated to end the season as well as I have done these past couple of weeks.”

For third-seeded Tsitsipas, who had been bidding for a tenth career title, it was the ninth defeat in as many ATP Tour 500-level finals he has played in.

Djokovic got off to a flying start, winning the first game at love in a little over one minute.

With Tsitsipas serving at 3-4, Djokovic took the only break point of the first set.

Djokovic earned another break in the fifth game of the second set when a Tsitsipas drop shot fell into the net.

The Serb converted his third match point with a backhand winner into an open court.

“I’m just very grateful and blessed to be able to play this well at this stage of my life,” Djokovic added.

“You know, 35 is not 25. But I think the experience, probably, in these kinds of matches and big occasions helps as well to approach mentally in the right way.”

Djokovic leads Tsitsipas 8-2 in their meetings and has won the past seven clashes.

AFP

Djokovic Says He Will Not Play US Open Because Of Lack Of Covid Vaccination

File photo: Novak Djokovic of Serbia attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2022. MARTIN KEEP / AFP

 

Former men’s world number one Novak Djokovic said he will not play in the US Open which begins on Monday as Covid protocols mean he cannot travel to the United States.

It is the second Grand Slam the 35-year-old Serb will miss due to not being vaccinated as he was deported prior to the Australian Open earlier this year.

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” tweeted Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion.

Djokovic’s announcement, which was widely anticipated, came hours before the draw for the final slam of the season.

Tennis legend John McEnroe has blasted the Djokovic ban as a “joke”

“At this point, in the pandemic, we’re two and a half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can’t travel here to play, to me is a joke,” said McEnroe.

Ironically, during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Djokovic was allowed to compete at New York where he was champion in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

He has not played since securing a seventh Wimbledon title last month, a victory which took him to 21 Grand Slam victories, one short of Rafael Nadal’s record of 22.

Only last month, Djokovic said he was “preparing to play” in the US Open where a traumatic defeat in last year’s final at the hands of Daniil Medvedev dashed his hopes of a Grand Slam of the four majors.

Djokovic signed off his tweet saying he hoped to be back soon.

“Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.

“See you soon tennis world!”

Novak Djokovic Wins Seventh Wimbledon Title, 21st Grand Slam

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Australia’s Nick Kyrgios during their men’s singles final tennis match on the fourteenth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2022. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

 

Novak Djokovic won a seventh Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam crown on Sunday with a four-set triumph over Nick Kyrgios, whose challenge angrily unravelled after a blistering start.

Top seed Djokovic won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) to equal Pete Sampras’s mark of seven titles at the All England Club and move within one of the men’s record of eight held by Roger Federer.

The 35-year-old Serb is now one Slam ahead of Federer in the all-time race and just one behind Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 majors.

He is also just the fourth man in the Open era to win four successive Wimbledon titles after Federer, Sampras and Bjorn Borg.

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Kyrgios was seen yawning at the top of the All England Club stairs as the players made their way onto Centre Court.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2022. AFP

 

But there was no lethargy when the final began as Djokovic, playing in a men’s record 32nd Slam final, was blown off the court by his 27-year-old opponent making his maiden bow.

Kyrgios raced through the first set, breaking in the fifth game and taking the opener with his seventh ace of the contest.

Along the way, he showcased one underarm serve, a “tweener” and impeccable behaviour.

Djokovic, renowned as the best returner in the game and undefeated at the tournament since 2017, managed to win just four points off the Kyrgios serve.

It was the third match in a row at this Wimbledon that the 35-year-old had dropped the first set.

Djokovic won a lung-busting 23-shot rally in the third game of the second set and immediately broke for a 3-1 lead.

It was the cue for Kyrgios’s first dark mutterings of the afternoon.

Kyrgios then saw four break points slip away as Djokovic levelled the final by taking his first set off the Australian in three meetings.

World number 40 Kyrgios saved two break points in the opening game of the third set.

There was a brief stoppage in play when a protestor was ejected from the stadium for shouting ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ in reference to the welfare of the Chinese women’s tennis star.

Kyrgios was further unsettled when he demanded a fan be removed from the crowd for distracting him in his serve.

“It’s the woman who looks as if she’s had 700 drinks, bro,” he told umpire Renaud Lichtenstein.

His afternoon threatened to unravel completely when he was broken from 40-0 up in the ninth game, fuming and swearing loudly at his team in the player’s box.

Djokovic, with only two unforced errors, happily pounced for a two-sets-to-one lead.

As Kyrgios continued to remonstrate with himself and his supporters, Djokovic strolled to victory, wrapping up the title with a convincing tiebreak.

Djokovic To Face Kyrgios In Blockbuster Wimbledon Final

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Britain's Cameron Norrie during their men's singles semi final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 8, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Britain’s Cameron Norrie during their men’s singles semi final tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 8, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

Record-breaking Novak Djokovic hit top form after a slow start against Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Friday, reaching an eighth Wimbledon final, where he will face Nick Kyrgios.

The Serbian top seed was uncharacteristically off-colour in the first set but roared back to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, playing near-flawless tennis.

It will be a record 32nd Grand Slam final in the men’s game for the six-time Wimbledon champion — taking him one clear of Roger Federer and two ahead of Rafael Nadal.

READ ALSO: Nadal Out Of Wimbledon With Abdominal Injury, Kyrgios Into Final

Djokovic already knows he will be facing Kyrgios after Nadal pulled out Thursday ahead of his semi-final against the Australian, with an abdominal injury.

The Serb, who has a 2-0 losing record against Kyrgios, promised “fireworks” as he targets a 21st Grand Slam singles title on Sunday — which would take him one clear of Federer and one behind Nadal in the race to be crowned the greatest of all time

“The job is not finished,” said the 35-year-old. “One thing is for sure — there are going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both.”

“He’s playing so freely,” he added. “He has one of the biggest serves in the game. We haven’t played for some time.

“I’ve never won a set off him. Hopefully it can be different this time. It’s another final for me at Wimbledon so hopefully the experience can work in my favour.”

Slow start

A sluggish Djokovic was broken three times in the first set against Norrie but turned the tables dramatically on the British ninth seed.

The top seed looked more composed at the start of the second set, finding more rhythm on his serve and cutting out the errors.

A single break in the eighth game changed the complexion of the match, putting him 5-3 up.

That was part of a run of eight games out of nine for Djokovic, who took the second set and then rocketed into a 5-1 lead in the third, giving Norrie a mountain to climb.

Djokovic again broke early in the fourth set and did not concede a single break point as he cantered to victory.

He is now on a 27-match winning streak at Wimbledon as he seeks to draw level with Pete Sampras on seven titles at the All England Club — just one behind Federer’s men’s record.

Kyrgios was kicking his heels on Friday, deprived of the chance to repeat his famous 2014 victory over Nadal at Wimbledon, which the Spaniard avenged three years ago.

The Australian, who will be playing in his first Grand Slam final, said Friday he was disappointed not to have the chance to face Nadal, proclaiming that “everyone did want to see us go to war out there”.

“Obviously you never want to see someone like that, so important to the sport, go down with an injury like that,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll play him again on a big stage.”

Kyrgios’s tournament has been a mixture of breathtaking shot-making and rants — including a demand that third-round opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas be thrown out of the championships for hitting a ball into the crowd.

He has been fined a total of $14,000 for his antics, which included spitting towards fans, and now has the added distraction of a looming court appearance in Australia, related to an allegation of assault.

“I never thought I’d be here at all, to be brutally honest with you,” said the 40th-ranked player, aged 27.

“But I’m just super proud and I’m just ready to go. I’m going to give it my all and we’ll see what happens.”

On Saturday, world number two Ons Jabeur will attempt to become the first African woman to win a Grand Slam in the modern era when she takes on Russian-born Elena Rybakina, who is representing Kazakhstan.

 

AFP

‘So Far, So Good’ As Djokovic Cruises Into Wimbledon Last 16

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic during their men’s singles tennis match on the fifth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 1, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
– RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

 

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon fourth round for the 14th time on Friday with a straight-sets demolition of Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic.

Djokovic, looking to pull level with Pete Sampras as a seven-time Wimbledon champion, triumphed 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.

Friday’s win was the 330th of Djokovic’s Grand Slam career.

“So far, so good,” said the 35-year-old top seed, who has now reached the last 16 of a major for the 55th time.

“I expect high standards from myself. You always want to raise the level and things are shaping up well.”

Waiting in the fourth round will be Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven.

Nadal Loses Out As Djokovic French Open Clash Gets Night Session

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal’s French Open quarter-final against long-time rival Novak Djokovic will take place in Tuesday’s night session at Roland Garros despite the 13-time champion’s desire to play in the day.

Officials confirmed Monday that the pair’s 59th career meeting will be the late match under the lights of Court Philippe Chatrier with the day’s other quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev set for the afternoon.

“I don’t like to play on clay during the night, because the humidity is higher, the ball is slower, and there can be very heavy conditions especially when it’s cold,” said Nadal last week.

“I think that makes a big difference between the way tennis is played on clay during the night and during the day.”

Djokovic had hinted he would prefer to face Nadal as late as possible.

“All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests,” said the world number one and defending champion.

Alcaraz said it would have been “unfair” if he was ordered to play after 9pm for the third time. Nadal and Djokovic have played one match each so far after dark.

Zverev was also dismissive of night-time conditions.

“I don’t mind the evening sessions when it’s 30 degrees during the day,” said the 25-year-old.

“When it’s 14 degrees, then in the night it’s going to be what, 8, 9, something like that, it gets difficult.”

Organisers faced a dilemma over scheduling with host broadcaster Prime Video having the rights to the tournament’s 10 night sessions.

Officials said an agreement had been reached whereby the match — the 10th between Djokovic and Nadal at Roland Garros — would be available free to air.

“The quarter-final match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal scheduled for Tuesday 31 May at 8:45 p.m. will be free to watch as unrestricted content in France across Prime Video mobile and web apps,” said a statement.

However, France’s public service broadcaster, which carries coverage of the tournament on terrestrial channels, hit out.

“France Televisions regrets this decision which deprives French viewers of one of the most beautiful adverts of the tournament,” they said in a statement.

Djokovic And Nadal Bid To Derail Alcaraz Hype At French Open

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

 

 

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, will attempt to derail the growing hype surrounding teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open from Sunday.

All three have been placed in the top-half of the draw, meaning only one will make the Roland Garros final.

Defending champion Djokovic is seeded to face 13-time winner Nadal in the quarter-finals. Alcaraz is a potential semi-final opponent.

“I feel I am always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic who arrives in Paris fired up by his inability to defend his Australian Open title in January when he was deported over his vaccination status.

“Reliving the memories from last year is something that obviously gives me goose bumps and motivation to try to replicate that.”

Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, captured a second French Open title in 2021.

He did it the hard way, coming from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the last-16, winning an epic four-set semi-final against Nadal before needing to overturn another two-set deficit to see off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.

It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.

– Nadal ‘feels better’ –
Djokovic starts his French Open against 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Nadal has played down concerns over the chronic foot issue that resurfaced in Rome last week.

On Wednesday, he practiced in front of thousands of fans at Roland Garros without any obvious discomfort.

“There is nothing to recover,” Nadal told reporters Friday. “What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices.”

“I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better. That’s why I’m here.”

Nadal began the year with a 20-match winning run, capturing a second Australian Open title to claim a record 21st Grand Slam and move ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The 35-year-old’s record at the French Open stands at a staggering 105 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

Djokovic has been responsible for two of those defeats. One of those came in the bruising semi-final 12 months ago, the most recent clash of the pair’s epic 58-match rivalry.

“I just watched Rafa practice and it’s funny because all of a sudden his forehand is just 20 miles an hour faster. He moves lighter on his feet,” said world number three Alexander Zverevn on Friday.

“There is something about this court that makes him play 30% better, just being on this court.”

Nadal takes on Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round.

Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles — three on clay — in 2022.

– ‘Special’ Alcaraz –
He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev on the way.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year.

He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.

Alcaraz, who has 28 wins and just three defeats this year, opens his campaign on Sunday against Argentine lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero, ranked at 141 but who made the last 16 in 2019.

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets lead to lose to Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action in Geneva this week after undergoing a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to master the draining demands of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first four visits before managing to stop the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Greek world number four Tsitsipas has enjoyed a solid clay season.

He defended his Monte Carlo title before making the last-eight in Barcelona, semi-finals in Madrid and final in Rome.

Fired-Up Djokovic Braced For Alcaraz And Nadal Challenge At French Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a game during the final match of the Men’s ATP Rome Open tennis tournament against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on May 15, 2022 at Foro Italico in Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic admits he will be fired up by the fiasco of his high-profile deportation from Australia when he targets a record-equalling 21st major on his Grand Slam return at the French Open. 

World number one Djokovic captured a second Roland Garros title in 2021 followed by a sixth Wimbledon to move to 20 majors alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

However, his unseemly exit from Melbourne following his refusal to be vaccinated opened the door for Nadal to claim a second Australian Open and 21st Grand Slam crown.

“It’s something that I never faced before,” said Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, the opening day of the French Open.

“The amount of pressure and everything that I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I’ve felt pressure in my life and my career, that was something really on a whole different level.”

Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.

It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.

He did not drop a set in Rome as he finished a memorable week with a final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, the man he defeated from two sets down in the 2021 French Open title match.

With 13-time French Open champion Nadal suffering a recurrence of a foot injury, another Spaniard is likely to be Djokovic’s biggest headache in Paris.

Carlos Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles — three on clay — in 2022.

– ‘Special’ Alcaraz-
He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and third-ranked Alexander Zverev on the way.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year. He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.

Djokovic has been responsible for two of only three losses suffered by Nadal in Paris.

One of those came in a bruising semi-final 12 months ago, the most recent clash of the pair’s epic 58-match rivalry.

Nadal comes into Paris with major question marks over his ability to lift a 14th title.

A rib injury in March was followed by the re-emergence in Rome of his chronic foot injury where he limped to defeat in the last-16.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is due to practice at Roland Garros for the first time on Wednesday where he will have his own doctor on hand to assess his fitness.

– ‘Living with injury’ -“I am a player living with an injury; it is nothing new,” said Nadal, now ranked fifth in the world.

“Since I came back, the foot has been tough. It’s tough for me to be able to practice the proper way.”

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets lead to lose to Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action in Geneva this week after undergoing a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to master the draining demands of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first four visits before managing to stop the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Medvedev is likely to use the ban on Russian players at Wimbledon this year as fuel for a surprise title tilt.

Greek world number four Tsitsipas has enjoyed a solid clay season.

He defended his Monte Carlo title before making the last-eight in Barcelona and semi-finals in Madrid.

Djokovic Makes It 370 Weeks At Number One

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic holds the winner’s trophy after winning the final match of the Men’s ATP Rome Open tennis tournament against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on May 15, 2022 at Foro Italico in Rome. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic extended his record at the top of the ATP rankings to 370 weeks on Monday while Rafael Nadal drops down a place to number five.

The Spaniard was knocked out of the Italian Open in the last 16 and is leapfrogged by the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who made it all the way to the final where he was turned over in straight sets by an inspired Djokovic.

The Serb, who claimed his sixth Italian Open title, has now spent 60 weeks more at number one than the next man on the list Roger Federer (310). Nadal is sixth on the all-time list with 209.

With the French Open starting on Sunday, Djokovic is guaranteed top seeding at Roland Garros and will retain the top spot for at least another two weeks.

Norwegian Casper Ruud climbs two places from tenth to eighth after reaching the semi-finals in Rome while Italian Matteo Berrettini, who had an operation on his right hand at the end of March and will miss the French Open, goes the other way.

Rankings (players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice):

1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 8,660 pts

2. Daniil Medvedev 7,990

3. Alexander Zverev (GER) 7,200

4. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6,170 (+1)

5. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 5,525 (-1)

6. Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 4,770

7. Andrey Rublev 3,945

8. Casper Ruud (NOR) 3,940 (+2)

9. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3,850

10. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 3,805 (-2)

11. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 3,355

12. Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3,195 (+1)

13. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3,095 (-1)

14. Taylor Fritz (USA) 2,920

15. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 2,671 (+1)

16. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2,505 (-1)

17. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 2,135 (+1)

18. Reilly Opelka (USA) 2,090 (-1)

19. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 1,903

20. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 1,785

AFP

Spanish Teenager Alcaraz Beats Djokovic To Reach Madrid final

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz reacts as he plays against Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their 2022 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament men's singles semi-final match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 7, 2022. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz reacts as he plays against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during their 2022 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament men’s singles semi-final match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 7, 2022. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Carlos Alcaraz became the first player to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the same tournament on clay as he stormed into the Madrid Open final on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Spaniard reached his second ATP Masters final in five weeks and claimed his first ever win over a reigning world number one, overcoming Djokovic 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in front of a sell-out home crowd at the Caja Magica.

Alcaraz now owns a tour-leading seven top-10 wins this season, and enters Sunday’s final –- against Stefanos Tsitsipas or defending champion Alexander Zverev –- carrying a nine-match winning streak, having triumphed in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.

He is the youngest player to defeat a world number one in 17 years.

READ ALSO: Fraser-Pryce Clocks World-Leading 10.67 To Win 100m In Nairobi

A calm and collected Alcaraz kicked off the match with a service break, thanks to a well-timed cross-court backhand passing shot, and was soon up 3-1 on the top seed.

Djokovic, who turns 35 this month, struck back to draw level for 4-4 as the set fittingly went to a tie-break.

A fired up Djokovic sped to a 5-1 advantage in the breaker and soon got his hands on four set points.

Alcaraz saved the first with an aggressive return and another with an ace. A spot-on drop shot saw the Spaniard save a third set point to narrow his deficit to 5-6 but Djokovic closed out the set on his fourth opportunity after 62 minutes of play.

The players were neck and neck in the second set until Alcaraz upped the ante in game 12, winning key battles at the net and perfectly utilising his drop shot when he needed to.

The Murcia native claimed a break and the set with a sensational get, running down a Djokovic dropper and hitting a winner from outside the doubles alley.

Djokovic cuts hand

Djokovic staved off three break points on his serve in game four of the decider, digging deep for a 2-2 hold.

The world number one fell to the ground during the next game and needed some medical attention for an open wound on his right hand. Two more break points came and went for Alcaraz on his opponent’s serve as Djokovic battled to hold for 3-3.

It was Djokovic’s turn to put pressure on the Alcaraz serve, but the seventh seed successfully side-stepped a break point to hold in game seven.

The crowd went wild as Alcaraz blasted a forehand winner to get his first match point. Djokovic responded with a steely ace and dug deep to level for 5-5.

It all came down to a final-set tie-break and the Caja Magica was shaking with “si se puede” (Yes you can) chants. Alcaraz drew first blood, opening up a 4-2 gap.

Djokovic saved a second match point for 5-6 but Alcaraz was third time lucky, claiming a statement three-hour 35-minute victory with yet another forehand winner — his 35th of the match.

 

AFP

‘Phenomenal Energy’ Drives Djokovic Into Belgrade Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory against Russia’s Karen Khachanov at the end of their Serbia Tennis Open ATP 250 tournament semi-final match in Belgrade on April 23, 2022. Pedja MILOSAVLJEVIC / AFP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory against Russia’s Karen Khachanov at the end of their Serbia Tennis Open ATP 250 tournament semi-final match in Belgrade on April 23, 2022.
Pedja MILOSAVLJEVIC / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic reached his first final of the year at the Serbia Open on Saturday after recovering from a set down to beat Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-1 6-2 and described his home support as “phenomenal”.

The world number one will face another Russian, Andrey Rublev, who defeated Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2, as he bids for a third Belgrade crown, and the 87th title of his career.

“As soon as the second set started I was just feeling the ball, particularly the backhand which was not working in the first set,” said Djokovic.

“The second and third sets were the best two sets of the season for me. I used the crowd energy which was phenomenal, probably the best atmosphere that I played in my entire life.”

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For the third match in a row, Djokovic dropped the first set after losing his serve in the opening game, but the Serb stepped up his level in the second and third sets.

“All three matches were key matches for me, to be honest,” added said Djokovic.

“Again I started not that great, losing the first set. I was a break down today as I was in the first two matches of the tournament.

“I think as soon as the second set started I was just feeling the ball and started swinging through particularly the backhand which wasn’t working in the first set.”

Djokovic beat the 26th-ranked Khachanov for the fifth straight meeting and sixth time in seven matches.

“To be honest with you in the second set, I don’t know how he does it, but sometimes he switches the mode and starts to play like a new match. I tried to have answers to that but today I couldn’t,” said the Russian.

The Belgrade event is only Djokovic’s third of 2022. He was deported from Melbourne — and denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title — after he entered the country unvaccinated.

He was also barred from playing at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters over his controversial Covid-19 stance.

The 34-year-old made the last eight in Dubai in February and then lost his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters last week.

Rublev will be chasing his third title of 2022 on Sunday after Marseille and Dubai in February.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Rublev on facing Djokovic who won their only previous encounter in straight sets at the 2021 ATP Finals.

“I have nothing to lose, I can go and enjoy it. He will play at home, it will be his moment, so the best I can do is fight and try to do my best.”

AFP