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.

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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.

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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

Djokovic Hails Gaudenzi As New ATP Boss

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic looks on during the French L1 football match Monaco vs Rennes on October 20, 2019 at the “Louis II Stadium” in Monaco. VALERY HACHE / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic hailed the appointment of Andrea Gaudenzi as the new chairman of the ATP on Thursday in succession to Chris Kermode whose controversial exit led to a rift between the world number one and fellow heavyweights, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Gaudenzi, 46, who reached 18 in the world rankings in his playing career and won three titles before retiring in 2003, has penned a four-year deal.

“On behalf of the players, I’d like to welcome Andrea as the next chairman of the ATP,” said Djokovic.

“As a former player, he has walked in our shoes, and has also become a successful entrepreneur following his playing career. He has all the qualities to lead the Tour and we look forward to working together for the benefit of the players and the sport more generally.”

Kermode had been in charge since 2014 but the player representatives decided at Indian Wells in March not to renew his contract.

The 54-year-old Briton was pushed towards the exit by representatives who, at the time, included the American Justin Gimelstob, a close associate of Djokovic.

Gimelstob was then forced to resign from the Players Council following a conviction for assault.

The exit of the popular Kermode was opposed by Federer and Nadal, both of whom have since returned to the Players Council which is chaired by Djokovic.

Most recently, Gaudenzi, an Italian, had been involved in the ATP’s media division.

“The ATP has played a central part in my life in so many ways, and to be given this opportunity to serve as ATP chairman is a true honour,” said Gaudenzi in a statement.

“I look forward to overseeing the future direction of the Tour and building on the sport’s global success and popularity at what is unquestionably one of the most exciting times in the history of men’s professional tennis.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to get started in January.”

Novak Djokovic Powers Through To Japan Open Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts following a point against Belgium’s David Goffin in their men’s singles semi-final match at the Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on October 5, 2019,/AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday cruised into the Japan Open final, thrashing David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.

In the final, Djokovic will face Australian qualifier John Millman, who squeezed past American opponent Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The Serbian star dominated his semi-final, starting strong by winning the first three games, picking up an early break while fending off fierce attempts by the Belgian to fight back.

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Djokovic again picked up an early break in the second set and survived all the four breakpoints through the match.

“I think we both served extremely well and precise, not too much chance for returners,” he said in a press conference. “Even though it was a two-set win, the quality of tennis was quite high.”

Djokovic won points on 87 percent of his successful first serves and never committed a double fault in the roughly 90-minute contest.

Goffin fought bravely, but Djokovic kept up the pressure with deep shots and quick footwork to fend off any threat.

“I trained with ninjas before this tournament,” Djokovic quipped, when asked about his apparent omnipresence on the court, during a post-match interview in front of cheering Japanese fans.

“This has been a wonderful week for me on and off the court,” he said. “Hopefully I will be able to crown this week with a trophy tomorrow.”

In the final, he will face the 80th-ranked Millman, who is making his first career appearance in the final of an ATP 500 event.

Millman predicted “a lot of baseline exchanges” with “one of the greatest players” of all time.

“It will be a physical battle. I will probably be the underdog, coming through qualifying. I know back home in Australia, we all like underdogs,” he said.

“I hope to bring my best tennis, a physical brand of tennis, and really just give it all for one more match. That’s all I want to do.”

Doubles Defeat For Djokovic Ahead Of Japan Open Singles Debut

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hits a return against Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Brazil’s Bruno Soares in their men’s doubles round of 16 match at the ATP Japan Open Tennis tournament in Tokyo on September 30, 2019. Behrouz MEHRI / AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic, forced out of the US Open with a shoulder injury, suffered a doubles defeat at the Japan Open on Monday, but proved his recovery is on track.

Bruno Soares of Brazil and Mate Pavic of Croatia beat the 32-year-old Serbian star and his countryman Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 4-6, 10-4 to progress to the quarter-finals.

The doubles experts survived Djokovic’s powerful serves with crisp volleying as their quick court coverage overwhelmed the Serbian pair’s bold shots.

Top seed Djokovic will make his Japan Open singles debut on Tuesday playing Alexei Popyrin, a 20-year-old Australian, at the Ariake Coliseum, a venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

His main challengers in the Japan event will be second seed Borna Coric of Croatia and Belgian third seed David Goffin.

Earlier this month, Djokovic was forced to pull out of his US Open fourth-round clash with Stan Wawrinka due to a nagging injury in his left shoulder.

His return means he could play out the season and hold off a challenge to his number one ranking from US Open winner Rafael Nadal.

Later in the day, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia downed Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.

It was their first tournament match after the two practiced together at a tennis academy in Italy.

“It was a good match. Unfortunately one of us has to win,” Cilic said.

The Croatian added that he has to “be ready to play well” in the second round, when he will face either Lorenzo Sonego of Italy or South Korean Chung Hyeon.

Sugita’s defeat is a disappointment for local fans after Japanese star Kei Nishikori pulled out of the tournament due to injuries.

AFP

Federer, Nadal And The All-Time Men’s Grand Slam Winners

Nadal Wins Five-Set US Open Final Thriller, 19th Grand Slam
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the 2019 US Open championship trophy. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

 

Here are the all-time Grand Slam men’s win leaders after Sunday’s US Open final:

Roger Federer (SUI) 20

Australian Open: 6 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)

French Open: 1 (2009)

Wimbledon: 8 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)

US Open: 5 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Rafael Nadal (ESP) 19

Australian Open: 1 (2009)

French Open: 12 (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Wimbledon: 2 (2008, 2010)

US Open: 4 (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) 16

Australian Open: 7 (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)

French Open: 1 (2016)

Wimbledon: 5 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)

US Open: 3 (2011, 2015, 2018)

Pete Sampras (USA) 14

Australian Open: 2 (1994, 1997)

French Open: 0

Wimbledon: 7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)

US Open: 5 (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002)

Roy Emerson (AUS) 12

Australian Open: 6 (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)

French Open: 2 (1963, 1967)

Wimbledon: 2 (1964, 1965)

US Open: 2 (1961, 1964)

AFP

Injured Djokovic Pulls Out Of US Open

Novak Djokovic of Serbia wipes his face with his towel while playing Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland during their Round Four Men’s Singles match at the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 1, 2019. Don Emmert / AFP

 

Top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic retired with a shoulder injury after dropping the first two sets of Sunday’s US Open last-16 match against Stan Wawrinka.

Swiss 23rd seed and 2016 champion Wawrinka led Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 when the Serb quit, having received treatment on his troublesome left shoulder before the start of the third set.

“It’s never the way you want to finish a match. I’m sorry for Novak. He’s an amazing champion,” Wawrinka said.

Djokovic, who has won four of the past five Grand Slam events and 16 overall, had struggled with a painful left shoulder during his second-round win over Juan Ignacio Londero.

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He said he felt “almost pain-free” following a straight-sets defeat of Denis Kudla in round three, but the problem resurfaced against Wawrinka in the first meeting between the pair since the final here three years ago.

“I want to keep my level of tonight. I think I was playing super good tennis. I’m happy to be back,” said Wawrinka, who will meet fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.

“It helped me big time knowing I have the game to beat him on that court.

“I was feeling great. When I came to practice here I was moving well, playing well. I was quite confident with the level I had but you never know when you are playing the number one player in the world.”

AFP