Djokovic Sweeps Past Nadal In ATP Cup Final

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after winning against Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men’s singles match in the final of the ATP Cup tennis tournament in Sydney on January 12, 2020. AFP

 

Novak Djokovic swept past long-time rival Rafael Nadal in a battling display at the ATP Cup final Sunday to lay down a marker ahead of the Australian Open.

The Serbian world number two blasted the top-ranked Spaniard off court 6-2 in the first set before a much tighter 7-6 (7/4) second set.

It left the final of the inaugural team event finely poised at 1-1 after Spain’s reliable Roberto Bautista Agut caned Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1.

Nadal and Djokovic were both expected back on court to play the decisive doubles rubber that will decide which country wins the 24-nation tournament.

“Every time I get to play Rafa we get to play a lot of exciting points. There were some incredible exchanges today,” said Djokovic.

“I started off the match perfectly, everything worked. I’m just really glad I held my nerve in the end.”

Djokovic, warming up for his bid to win an eighth Australian Open crown this month, went into the clash at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena leading their head-to-heads 28-26.

But the statistics did not tell the full story.

The Serb had won nine of their past 12 contests and been dominant over the years on hard courts — including a comfortable win against Nadal in the Australian Open final last year.

He showed his intent immediately, breaking Nadal in the opening game when the Spaniard netted a backhand, and there was no let-up.

His driving groundstrokes and deft touches proved too much with Nadal’s serve constantly under siege as Djokovic delivered a booming ace to wrap up the set.

Nadal lifted to another level in the second set and it was an intense affair, with Djokovic saving five break points in a crucial sixth game.

It went to a tiebreaker where a crunching backhand down the line from the Serb gave him the break he needed to complete the victory.

AFP

Djokovic Leads Serbia Into ATP Cup Final

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return in his men’s singles match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the ATP Cup tennis tournament in Sydney on January 11, 2020. William WEST / AFP

 

 

Novak Djokovic was at his battling best to topple gutsy fifth-ranked Daniil Medvedev on an epic Saturday and send Serbia into the inaugural ATP Cup final.

The world number two was given the ideal platform by a composed Dusan Lajovic, who ground down Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the opening singles 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) to hand his country a 1-0 advantage.

And the 16-time Grand Slam champion, who will be targeting an eighth Australian Open title this month, came through a top-draw contest 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

It gave Serbia an unassailable 2-0 lead ahead of the doubles to set up a meeting with either the Nick Kyrgios-led Australia or Rafael Nadal’s Davis Cup champions Spain in the final on Sunday.

“It was an exceptional match. Lots of rallies and very exhausting. Daniil Medvedev is one of the best players in the world and he showed today why,” said Djokovic, who on Saturday pulled out of next week’s Adelaide International after a tough ATP Cup.

“He’s difficult to break from the baseline, he’s tall and has a good serve. This was the most difficult challenge I have had so far this year.”

Djokovic dropped a set for the first time in the tournament during his quarter-final encounter with Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, but quickly assumed control against Medvedev.

Playing in much cooler conditions than the heat and humidity that hit Nadal on Friday when he lost in the singles, Djokovic broke in the first set to go 3-1 up and never looked troubled.

He broke again for 5-1 and served it out in just 31 minutes.

The Russian, who had won their last two encounters, appeared in trouble when he was broken again in the opening game of the second set but then astonishingly roared back.

He lifted his level to create four break points in the next, converting when Djokovic misjudged a ball he thought was going out.

Another break put him 3-1 ahead and Djokovic smashed his racquet in frustration as Medvedev took the set to level the match.

A third set of long, high-quality rallies went with serve until Djokovic got the crucial edge in the fifth game, converting a volley to go 3-2 in front and Medvedev had no answer.

Lajovic, who won his first ATP title last year at Umag, took a 2-0 record into his showdown with world number 17 Khachanov.

In their first meeting on hard courts, he produced a performance that belied his ranking of 34, displaying composure and a fine array of shots.

Lajovic found a new gear during his thrashing on Friday of Felix Auger-Aliassime and said the vocal Sydney fans had fuelled him to deliver his best tennis.

They were back in full voice again at the Ken Rosewall Arena, getting him over the line.

“It was definitely one of the toughest matches for me in my career, concerning the situation, the tension and the importance of the moment,” he said.

“But the crowd carried me and my team was behind me.”

AFP

Nadal’s Spain To Meet Djokovic’s Serbia In ATP Cup Final

A photo combination of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal . AFP

 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will face each other in the final of the inaugural ATP Cup after winning epic three-set matches Saturday to steer Spain and Serbia into the decider.

World number one Nadal ground down pumped-up Australian Alex de Minaur to guide the Davis Cup champions through their semi-final while Djokovic battled past Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

Under the format of the innovative team event in Sydney, the top-ranked singles players from each country play each other, ensuring the two legends clash for the 55th time since their first showdown in 2006.

READ ALSO: US Open Champion Andreescu Withdraws From Australian Open

World number two Djokovic leads the head-to-head 28-26, including beating his arch-rival in the Australian Open final last year.

Nadal outlasted De Minaur 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 after unflappable teammate Roberto Bautista Agut tamed Nick Kyrgios 6-1, 6-4.

Djokovic had an equally tough time against impressive fifth-ranked Medvedev, coming through a top-draw contest 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 on the back of Dusan Lajovic beating Karen Khachanov 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).

“Alex was playing at a very high level and for me, my energy was a little bit lower than usual. But it has been a very emotional evening and a pleasure playing here,” said Nadal.

“We know it’s going to be a super tough final (against Serbia),” he added. “Novak likes a lot to play here, he’s had a lot of great results. So let’s see. We have a good team too.”

De Minaur had a furious start, breaking Nadal in the opening game of the match and then keeping the pressure on, restricting the Spaniard’s trademark forehand to take the first set in 46 minutes.

Full of energy, his serve was on fire and he was winning the baseline rallies, but Nadal weathered the onslaught and finally won a breakpoint, converting to take the second set.

De Minaur was deflated and the fight went out of him as the 19-time Grand Slam showed him who was boss, racing through the deciding set.

Unassuming world number 10 Bautista Agut was in control and all over the groundstrokes of temperamental Kyrgios, who looked lost as he crashed 6-1 in the first set.

The Australian regained some lustre in the second set. But he was broken in the fifth game, mangling his racquet in frustration, and despite saving two match points with booming aces was outplayed.

“My game plan was to put him under pressure to play every point, to make him work. That’s what I tried and it went well,” said Bautista Agut.

Exceptional

Sixteen-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic, who is targeting an eighth Australian Open title this month, had looked on track for a comfortable win against Medvedev after sailing through the opening set and breaking in the first game of the second.

But the dogged Russian, who won their last two encounters, roared back.

He broke in the next game and then again for 3-1, with Djokovic smashing his racquet as Medvedev took the set to level the match.

The third set of long, high-quality rallies went with serve until Djokovic got the crucial edge in the fifth game, converting a volley to go 3-2 in front and Medvedev had no answer.

“It was an exceptional match. Lots of rallies and very exhausting. Daniil Medvedev is one of the best players in the world and he showed today why,” said Djokovic.

“He’s difficult to break from the baseline, he’s tall and has a good serve. This was the most difficult challenge I have had so far this year.”

Lajovic, who won his first ATP title last year at Umag, took a 2-0 record into his showdown with world number 17 Khachanov and produced a performance that belied his ranking of 34, displaying composure and a fine array of shots.

“It was definitely one of the toughest matches for me in my career, concerning the situation, the tension and the importance of the moment,” he said. “But the crowd carried me.”

AFP

Nadal, Djokovic Off To Winning Starts At ATP Cup

 

 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic kickstarted their build-up to the Australian Open with straight-sets wins at the ATP Cup Saturday, but world number four Dominic Thiem slumped to defeat.

Top-ranked Nadal had little trouble with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, racing to a 6-3, 7-5 victory, while long-time rival Djokovic was given more of a test by South Africa’s Kevin Anderson before overcoming him 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6).

Their wins ensured Spain and Serbia clinched their ties at the inaugural 24-nation team event, where the countries are split into six groups across Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The top eight from the round-robin go onto the knockout phase in Sydney before one is eventually crowned the winner.

France, Argentina, Croatia and Japan also began their tournament in style, winning their ties to join day one victors Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway, Russia and Australia.

“I’m super, super happy to be here in Perth for first time in my life. It’s an amazing arena and a great crowd,” said Nadal.

“It was tough first match of the season, not an easy start. But I think I played a great game.”

Earlier, his teammate Roberto Bautista Agut crushed a hapless Aleksandre Metreveli 6-0, 6-0.

Serbian superstar Djokovic needed to produce some of his best tennis to see off the big-serving Anderson, admitting it was a testing encounter.

“What a way to start the year,” he said. “He was on fire tonight — I think the quality of tennis was quite high. “I was very pleased with the way I kind of weathered the storm.”

His teammate Dusan Lajovic outlasted Lloyd Harris 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

Confidence

Austria’s Thiem forecast this week that 2020 would be the year that the vice-like hold of Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer on Grand Slam titles would come to an end.

He is tipped as one of those who could make the breakthrough, along with Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. But all three have been beaten in their opening ATP Cup clashes.

Thiem, who won five titles last year, had six break points in the third set against Croatia’s Borna Coric, but failed to convert any of them.

“It’s really nice to beat him because at the end of last season I was not playing well and this will give me a lot of confidence,” said Coric, ranked 28 and who suffered six losses in a row in late 2019.

Fellow Croat Marin Cilic, a finalist at the 2018 Australian Open, used his experience to down Austria’s Dennis Novak 6-7 (7/4), 6-4, 6-4, and ensure Croatia won the tie in Sydney.

The most dominant win of the day came courtesy of Japan, who are without the injured Kei Nishikori but crushed Uruguay 3-0 in Perth, dropping just 15 games across their two singles and one doubles rubbers.

Yoshihito Nishioka routed higher-ranked Pablo Cuevas 6-0, 6-1 and veteran Go Soeda thrashed Martin Cuevas, Pablo’s younger brother, 6-1, 6-3 before a tighter doubles encounter.

French duo Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire, both in the top 25, led their country to a 2-1 Group A win over Chile, while Argentina scraped past Poland by the same score.

But it was a struggle for the South Americans with Polish number one Hubert Hurkacz upsetting world number 14 Diego Schwartzman in three sets.

Guido Pella won the other singles before Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni teamed to down Hurkacz and two-time Grand Slam winner Lukasz Kubot in the deciding doubles.

Some US$15 million in prize money is at stake in the tournament, with up to 750 singles and 250 doubles ATP rankings points up for grabs.

Under the innovative tournament rules, on-court coaching is allowed and team zones are in the corners of the court, rather than on the sidelines by the umpire.

Djokovic Driven By Lasting Legacy, Not Trophy-Hunting

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Russia’s Karen Khachanov during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 3rd Place match at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, on December 21, 2019. AFP

 

 

Novak Djokovic says the main source of his motivation at this stage of his career is securing a lasting legacy rather than simply trying to win tennis matches and trophies.

For nearly two years, from mid-2016 until mid-2018, the 32-year-old Serb had admittedly struggled with motivation after pulling off the historic feat of winning four Grand Slams in a row –- a first in men’s tennis since 1969.

Djokovic recaptured his spark and has since added a quartet of majors to his overall tally, which now stands at 16.

While the world number two remains in a tight battle with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for most Grand Slam titles won, Djokovic believes what currently drives him in the sport is something deeper than that.

“You need to constantly give yourself fuel from the source, whatever the source is,” Djokovic said at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, where he secured third place with victory over Karen Khachanov on Saturday.

“I think it’s always about finding that purpose, and the reason, the meaning of actually playing. For me, especially in the last couple of years, it’s not only about winning a tennis match or a trophy.

“It had to be something greater than my own achievements. Something that would be related to legacy, something that would really be inspiring the lives of others, particularly kids.”

Federer holds the men’s all-time record of most majors won, with 20, and Nadal is breathing down his neck with a total of 19.

Djokovic is younger than both of them though, and has a shot at closing the gap on his two rivals.

“That’s a goal,” said Djokovic, when asked if he is fuelled by breaking records.

“I’m motivated by breaking my own records and moving my own boundaries and that”s something that motivates me to compete.

“I do love to play tennis so I do like to be on the practice court. But competitive tennis is different. In order to compete to be a professional tennis player and to compete at the highest level, you really need goals, daily goals, monthly goals, yearly goals.

“So I do have them, as everyone else. Of course, I’m aware of the privilege that I have to fight for history and to be able to possibly achieve even greater things and that’s something that drives me of course, alongside other things.”

Djokovic will begin his 2020 season by representing Serbia in the ATP Cup in Australia.

He remains midway through his pre-season preparations, and leaves Abu Dhabi with one loss, to Stefanos Tsitsipas, and one win over Khachanov.

“I got what I came here for, two good matches,” he said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Khachanov is hoping to find consistency in the new season following a see-saw 2019.

The Russian former top-10 player has added Swedish coach Fredrik Rosengren to his team, to work alongside Vedran Martic.

The 23-year-old is also a new dad, having welcomed his son David with his wife, Veronika, three months ago.

“Fatherhood is treating me very well. I think you become more mature because you have a responsibility not only for yourself but for the whole family, so that’s one of the biggest steps,” said the 17th-ranked player.

AFP

Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates his straight sets win over Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in their men’s singles round-robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 14, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer produced a near-flawless performance as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory on Thursday.

The Swiss started the tournament with a chastening straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem but found his best form when it mattered.

Defeat for the second seed spells the end of his bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.

READ ALSO: Loew Downplays Germany As Euro 2020 Favourites

Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, six-time champion Federer looked in the groove from the start, cranking up the pressure on Djokovic’s serve and dropping just three points on his own serve in the first set.

The Serbian upped his game at the start of the second set but Federer, 38, saved the one break point he faced and broke twice to canter to victory.

The third seed, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, is into his 16th semi-final at the year-end event.

Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.

“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer, who hit 23 winners and made just five unforced errors. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.

“I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical.”

Speaking about what was different from the Wimbledon final, where he squandered two championship points on his own serve, he said: “I won match point I guess.

“It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”

Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Thiem, who also beat Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.

Metronomic Federer

Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.

As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.

Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and 32-year-old Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.

In the next game, Djokovic slipped to 15-40 and sailed a forehand long to give Federer his second break of the match. The Swiss broke once more to close out the victory.

Djokovic had won his past five meetings with Federer, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July.

“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well…. He did everything right.”

In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Fifth seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.

AFP

Djokovic Kickstart ATP Finals With Win Against Berrettini

 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his straight-sets win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in his men’s singles round-robin match on day one of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 10, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic eased to a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Matteo Berrettini in his ATP Finals opener on Sunday as he targets a record-equalling sixth year-end number one ranking.

The Serbian, a five-time champion at the end-of-season event, was last week nudged off the top spot in the rankings by Rafael Nadal, who is also in the eight-man field in London.

Djokovic, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this season, must reach the final to stand any chance of dislodging Nadal but there are major questions over the Spaniard’s fitness.

READ ALSO: France Crush Australian Dreams To Win Fed Cup Final

The second seed saw off the challenge of Berrettini in just 62 minutes, converting five of seven breakpoints and out-serving his 23-year-old opponent.

Eighth-seed Berrettini, appearing at the ATP Finals for the first time, went toe to toe with Djokovic at the start of the match but the Serbian broke twice to take the first set 6-2.

Djokovic romped into a 4-0 lead in the second set as the Italian continued to struggle with his serve but was pegged back in the fifth game as Berrettini broke for the first time.

The unflappable 16-time Grand Slam champion broke back in the following game and served out to take the set 6-1.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev shocked Djokovic in last year’s final at the O2 Arena but the Serbian is the firm favourite to equal Roger Federer’s tally of six ATP Finals titles after cantering to victory at last week’s Paris Masters.

Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic were the top three seeds when they first competed together at the tournament way back in 2007 and are still the men to beat 12 years later.

Nadal, who has never won the event, is bidding to clinch the year-end number one spot in the ATP rankings for the fifth time.

The season-ending tournament, featuring the year’s best eight players, is contested in a round-robin format with the best four players and doubles teams reaching the knockout semi-finals stage.

The other two members of the Bjorn Borg group are Federer and Dominic Thiem of Austria, who meet in the evening match.

Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev are in the Andre Agassi group.

AFP

Djokovic Cruises To Fifth Paris Masters Title

 

Novak Djokovic eased to a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title by brushing aside Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov in Sunday’s final, boosting his hopes of taking the year-end world number one spot.

The top seed claimed a dominant 6-3, 6-4 victory over his 20-year-old opponent, who looked nervous after being the beneficiary of Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal before their scheduled semi-final.

Djokovic will lose top spot in the rankings to Nadal next week, but could still equal Pete Sampras’ record by finishing a sixth year as the world’s best player.

The 33-year-old Nadal is a fitness doubt for the ATP Tour Finals, which start in London on November 10, due to an abdominal muscle strain, while Djokovic has won the season-ending championships five times.

Djokovic, who lost to Russian Karen Khachanov in last year’s Bercy final, saved the only break point he faced as he sealed his fourth win from as many matches against the world number 28 Shapovalov.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion has now won 34 Masters titles, moving to within one of Nadal at the top of the all-time list, and 77 on the ATP Tour in total.

It was Djokovic’s fifth trophy of the season after previous triumphs at Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as at the Madrid Open and in Tokyo.

Nadal, Djokovic Edge Closer To Possible Paris Final Meeting

Novak Djokovic,                                                                 Rafal Nadal

 

 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, fighting it out for the year-end world number one spot, edged closer to a possible Paris Masters final clash as both eased into the last four on Friday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, who can secure the end-of-year top ranking ahead of Djokovic by winning his maiden Bercy title, beat French wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Nadal is bidding for a record-extending 36th Masters crown and will take on Denis Shapovalov in the last four on Saturday after the Canadian youngster thrashed Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2.

The Spaniard has reached the semis for the first time at the event since 2013, having withdrawn injured before the quarter-finals on his last appearance in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of injuries in this tournament (historically),” said Nadal. “I’m happy to be back in the semi-finals.”

Djokovic had earlier crushed seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2 and will next face Grigor Dimitrov, who saw off unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal has now reached 73 Masters semi-finals in total and is two wins away from his 85th ATP title, but only third indoors.

Tsonga was rock solid on serve in a first set which did not see a single service game from either player even reach deuce.

But second seed Nadal stepped it up in the tie-break, with two incredible winners on the run helping him take a crucial one-set lead.

Tsonga’s serve briefly deserted him in the second game of the second set, as successive double faults allowed Nadal to claim the first break of the match and he then sped to victory.

Djokovic swats aside Tsitsipas

Djokovic said he played “one of his best matches of the season” to thrash Tsitsipas.

The 32-year-old dispatched his Greek opponent in only 58 minutes.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion went into the match with a 2-1 losing record against Tsitsipas, but put the young world number seven in his place with a commanding victory.

“I played one of the best matches of the season,” said Djokovic. “I prepared myself very well for this match.

“I lost to Stefanos about three weeks ago in Shanghai. And obviously I went through the videos and understanding of what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I can do better.”

Djokovic will be usurped by Nadal at the top of the rankings next week, but can ensure the race to be the best player at the end of the year reaches the ATP Tour Finals in London by winning a fifth Paris Masters title.

The defeat ended Tsitsipas’ run of three consecutive semi-finals and dealt a blow to his confidence ahead of his maiden appearance at the season-ending championships, which start on November 10.

Djokovic holds an 8-1 winning head-to-head record against Dimitrov.

“He (Dimitrov) has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade,” said Djokovic, who is bidding to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing as the year-end number one on six occasions.

“He’s been playing some terrific tennis this week… I don’t play too bad myself, so it’s going to be for sure a good one.”

Dimitrov marches on

Former world number three Dimitrov last reached the semis at a Masters tournament in Monte Carlo in 2018 but has rediscovered his form in recent weeks after heading into the US Open ranked 78th.

The Bulgarian became the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2008 at Flushing Meadows, before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

World number 42 Garin, playing in his first Masters quarter-final, served for the second set at 5-4, but the 28-year-old Dimitrov reeled off three straight games to claim an impressive victory.

Shapovalov cruised into the fourth Masters semi-final of his young career by ending Monfils’ bid to reach the ATP Finals.

Home favourite Monfils was one victory away from pipping Italian Matteo Berrettini to a ticket to London but was blown away by a brilliant Shapovalov performance.

“He (Berrettini) had better give me a bottle of wine or something,” joked world number 28 Shapovalov.

AFP

Djokovic Crushes Tsitsipas To Set Up Dimitrov Semi-Final In Paris

File Photo: Novak Djokovic

 

Novak Djokovic said he played “one of his best matches of the season” to thrash seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2 on Friday and set up a Paris Masters semi-final against Grigor Dimitrov.

The 32-year-old, battling Rafael Nadal for the year-end world number one spot, dispatched Greek star Tsitsipas in only 58 minutes.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion went into the match with a 2-1 losing record against Tsitsipas, but put the young world number seven in his place with a commanding victory.

“I played one of the best matches of the season,” said Djokovic. “I prepared myself very well for this match.

“I lost to Stefanos about three weeks ago in Shanghai. And obviously I went through the videos and understanding on what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I can do better.”

Djokovic will be usurped by Nadal at the top of the rankings next week, but can ensure the fight to be the best player at the end of the year reaches the ATP Tour Finals in London by winning a record-extending fifth title at Bercy.

The crushing defeat ended Tsitsipas’ run of three consecutive semi-finals and dealt a blow to his confidence ahead of his maiden appearance at the season-ending championships, which start on November 10.

Djokovic holds an 8-1 winning head-to-head record against Dimitrov, who saw off unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin 6-2, 7-5 earlier in the day.

“He (Dimitrov) has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade,” said Djokovic, who is bidding to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing as the year-end number one on six occasions.

“He’s been playing some terrific tennis this week… I don’t play too bad myself, so it’s going to be for sure a good one.”

Irrepressible Djokovic

Tsitsipas made a nightmare start, as back-to-back double faults gifted his illustrious opponent a break in just the second game.

Djokovic had been struggling with illness earlier in the week and laboured past Corentin Moutet and Kyle Edmund in his first two matches, but was at his irrepressible best en route to a 5-0 lead.

Tsitsipas, encouraged by a packed crowd, avoided a first-set bagel by saving three set points, only for Djokovic to serve it out in the following game after a mere 28 minutes on court.

The 21-year-old’s misery was compounded by a time violation in the third game of the second set, and Serbian Djokovic duly broke his serve.

Another break to love helped the top seed forge 5-1 in front, and Tsitsipas’ humiliation was complete when he carved a forehand wide on match point.

Former world number three Dimitrov last reached the semis at a Masters tournament in Monte Carlo in 2018, but has rediscovered his form in recent weeks after heading into the US Open ranked 78th.

The Bulgarian became the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2008 at Flushing Meadows, before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

Dimitrov has now won three consecutive matches in straight sets at Bercy, where he had lost in the third round in each of the previous six years.

World number 42 Garin, playing in his first Masters quarter-final, served for the second set at 5-4, but the 28-year-old Dimitrov reeled off three straight games to claim an impressive victory.

Later Friday, second seed Nadal takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while Gael Monfils, who is still in contention for a place at the ATP Finals, faces Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

Djokovic Sets Up Tsitsipas Clash As Dimitrov Beats Thiem

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to France’s Corentin Moutet during their men’s singles tennis match on day three of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 – Rolex Paris Masters – indoor tennis tournament at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on October 30, 2019.  AFP

 

Novak Djokovic saw off Britain’s Kyle Edmund on Thursday to reach his eighth Paris Masters quarter-final, while Grigor Dimitrov knocked out fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

Top seed Djokovic, battling Rafael Nadal for the year-end world number one spot, needed seven set points in the first set before winning 7-6 (9/7), 6-1.

“It was good. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable in the first set,” said the 32-year-old, who has been struggling with the flu this week.

“It was a bit like yesterday (against Corentin Moutet). I hope to be better in the next match.”

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is chasing a record-extending fifth Bercy title and will next face world number seven Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4.

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas leads his head-to-head with Djokovic 2-1, after victories at the Shanghai Masters earlier this month and the 2018 Canadian Open.

Djokovic is hoping to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing six years as the world’s best player, but Nadal can be sure of denying the Serbian that achievement with a maiden Paris title this week.

The Spaniard takes on three-time Grand Slam title-winner Stan Wawrinka in his third-round match later on Thursday.

World number 75 Edmund, hoping to push for a place in Britain’s Davis Cup squad, held his own in the first set, saving two set points to send the opener to a tie-break.

He then rallied from 6-3 down in the breaker to level at 7-7, saving four more set points as his powerful forehand started to dominate, but Djokovic finally took it at the seventh time of asking with a winner up the line.

Edmund’s resistance was ended as Djokovic broke to love in the third game of the second set en route to a run of six straight games which secured an ultimately comfortable victory.

 Dimitrov downs Thiem 

Former world number three Dimitrov produced a fantastic performance to beat fifth seed Thiem 6-3, 6-2 and reach the last eight in Paris for the first time.

It will also be the Bulgarian’s first Masters quarter-final since the Canadian Open last year as he continues his rise up the rankings.

Dimitrov was the world number 78 heading into the US Open, but reached the semi-finals and is now ranked 27th.

The 28-year-old, who had dispatched 12th seed David Goffin in round two, defended brilliantly throughout as two-time French Open runner-up Thiem appeared to feel the effects of winning his home title in Vienna last weekend.

Dimitrov will take on Cristian Garin for a semi-final spot, after the unseeded Chilean saved three match points in a deciding-set tie-break to end the run of French qualifier Jeremy Chardy.

The world number 42 claimed five straight points to close out victory, winning 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) to book his maiden Masters quarter-final.

“It was a really tough fight, Jeremy is such a good player. I played my best,” said Garin.

Greek star Tsitsipas, who has reached at least the semis in each of his last three tournaments, eased past De Minaur, ending the Australian’s hopes of qualifying for next month’s ATP Tour Finals in London.

AFP

Djokovic Survives Moutet Scare To Win Paris Opener

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to France’s Corentin Moutet during their men’s singles tennis match on day three of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000  in Paris on October 30, 2019.  AFP

 

Novak Djokovic survived a scare against French lucky loser Corentin Moutet to reach the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

Top seed Djokovic, locked in a battle with Rafael Nadal for the year-end world number one spot, had to save two set points in the first set before beating the 97th-ranked Moutet 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

The 32-year-old will play either Britain’s Kyle Edmund or Argentinian Diego Schwartzman in the last 16 as he continues his bid for a record-extending fifth Bercy title.

Nadal, who is guaranteed to usurp Djokovic at the rankings summit next week ahead of the ATP Tour Finals in London, gets his campaign underway later on Wednesday against home wildcard Adrian Mannarino.

AFP