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Can Borna Slow Novak's Chase For No. 1?

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

Can Borna Slow Novak’s Chase For No. 1?

Djokovic pursues Masters 1000 title No. 32 while Coric seeks his first

Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic?

That task falls to Borna Coric on Sunday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where the 21-year-old Croatian will compete in his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. And if the two-time ATP World Tour champion hopes to lift his biggest trophy yet, he will have to solve what is arguably tennis’ toughest riddle at the moment.

Djokovic, who is 10-0 in finals in China, has won 17 straight matches and 24 consecutive sets leading into the championship clash. The No. 2 seed is pursuing his fourth trophy in Shanghai and his 32nd Masters 1000 crown, which would move him within one of Rafael Nadal for the most at the elite level.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following match-up at the Rolex Shanghai Masters and vote for the players you think will win!
Djokovic v Coric


But that’s not the only reason that it’s an important match for Djokovic. He is making a run at finishing atop the year-end ATP Rankings for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic was outside the Top 20 as recently as July, but the Serbian will climb to No. 2 on Monday, and he can move within 215 points of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal if he triumphs against Coric.

“It’s important, and I am grateful that I have this achievement. I’m proud of it. Obviously I worked hard for it, and my ultimate goal is to get to No. 1 by the end of the year. I’m in a good way,” Djokovic said of moving up to No. 2, which he guaranteed by defeating Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals. “But being No. 2 after this tournament is also a great achievement, considering the first four, five months of the year and considering I had the surgery [after the Australian Open], and where I was about four months ago and where I am today is quite an extreme opposite. I’m just cherishing that achievement and every moment spent on the court.”

Djokovic knows that while this is uncharted territory for Coric, beating the Croatian will not be easy. Coric upset top seed Roger Federer on Saturday in straight sets after also winning against the Swiss earlier this year to capture his maiden ATP World Tour 500-level title at the Gerry Weber Open.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s one of the hardest-working guys on the Tour,” Djokovic said. “He puts a lot of effort in practice. He’s one of the leaders of the new generation. He’s played some great tennis so far this week.”

And while Coric has enjoyed the best season of his young career — he will soar to a career-best No. 13 regardless of Sunday’s result — such a big breakthrough was even a surprise to him. Coric simply took the court against Federer with the mindset that he had nothing to lose.

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“It happened much earlier than what I expected, to be honest,” Coric said of reaching a Masters 1000 final. “I’m also as surprised as you, probably.”

It will also be a different type of match for Coric, as Federer and Djokovic play different styles. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier did well to keep Federer from finding an offensive rhythm in the semi-finals, taking it to Federer at every opportunity. Djokovic on the other hand is arguably the best neutralising defender in the world, known for his elastic sliding around the court and all-around game.

“He plays more similar to me. Actually, I play more similar to him. When I was a kid, I was looking up to him and I was always trying to play like him,” Coric said of Djokovic. “I need to change a couple of things, but I just need to go out there and just need to enjoy. That’s the most important [thing]. I just need to try to play like today and we will see what’s going to happen.”

Coric owns a 2-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Federer, Nadal and former World No. 1 Andy Murray. But Djokovic has won the pair’s previous two matches without dropping a set. One thing working especially well for the Serbian this week has been his serve. Djokovic has won all 37 of his service games in the tournament, facing just three break points, and he will try to continue that in the final.

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“I love the way I have played so far this week,” Djokovic said. “I’m ready for whatever challenge is across the net.”

That will be Coric, who is not just an opponent, but a friend. The No. 13 seed grew up idolising Djokovic, before befriended him on the ATP World Tour. Now, Coric has an opportunity to spring a massive upset against his friend to add an even greater achievement to his resumé.

“We are really close friends. I was looking up to him since I was really, really young,” Coric said. “We are friends now, but tomorrow on the court we are going to try to win.”

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Novak Thrilled To Reach 'Big Milestone' Of 1,000 Matches

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

Novak Thrilled To Reach ‘Big Milestone’ Of 1,000 Matches

No. 2 seed faces Coric on Sunday for Shanghai title

Novak Djokovic passed another milestone in his illustrious career on Saturday, defeating World No. 5 Alexander Zverev in his 1,000th tour-level match to advance to the Rolex Shanghai Masters final.

“Big milestone, 1,000 matches,” Djokovic told his fans in a video on his Instagram. “Thank you guys very much for being there with me. Obviously it’s a great milestone. I’m very proud of it. It almost looks unreal, really, to play 1,000 matches throughout my professional career. I’m very grateful. I’m blessed to play the sport that I really love. I have a great team around me. I owe a great gratitude to my family, all the people that were close to me throughout my entire career and supported me on the way to achieve this great milestone.”

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Only 12 players have completed 1,000 tour-level matches on record in the Open Era according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone. And compared to his two greatest rivals — Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer — Djokovic has won a higher rate of matches than when those stars eclipsed the 1,000-match mark. The Serbian’s 827-173 record (82.7 per cent) barely squeaks by Nadal (822-178) and Federer (814-186).

Number Of Wins Through 1,000 Tour-Level Matches

 Player  Record  Win Rate
 Novak Djokovic  827-173  82.7%
 Rafael Nadal  822-178  82.2%
 Roger Federer  814-186  81.4%

It’s certainly not Djokovic’s first milestone. On 4 July 2011, the Serbian climbed to the top of the ATP Rankings for the first time. Earlier this year, Djokovic completed the Career Golden Masters, triumphing in Cincinnati to earn the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title he was missing. But that doesn’t mean this achievement loses significance for the 31-year-old, who dreamt of such moments long before playing his first match.

“I wouldn’t be so dedicated to this sport if I didn’t believe that I can achieve great heights. But you always have to kind of pinch yourself, particularly at this stage of my career, and be grateful, because at the end of the day, I did have an awesome career so far that has blessed me with a lot of great achievements,” Djokovic told the media after beating Zverev. “I always try to remind myself, and I have a lot of people around me that are very close to me in my life that also try to remind me, that I have to appreciate every milestone, every success, every win. Also losses, because you learn more from losses. It’s quite a journey and quite a trajectory I’ve had in my career.”

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But more than anything, Djokovic is happy to be in another Masters 1000 final. The No. 2 seed will have a chance to lift his 32nd trophy at the elite level on Sunday when he faces Borna Coric in Shanghai after defeating Zverev with the loss of just three games.

“It was a great way to celebrate the milestone. It was a lot of numbers, symbolic 1000th match, one hour exactly of play today,” Djokovic said. “When it comes to the match, I thought I did everything I intended to do very well.”

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10 Things To Know About Borna Coric

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

10 Things To Know About Borna Coric

21-year-old defeats Federer to reach maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final

Borna Coric reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Saturday, beating defending champion Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Here are 10 things to know about the 21-year-old who denied Federer in the Shanghai semi-finals.

1. Twice an ATP World Tour champion
Coric also defeated Federer to hoist his second ATP World Tour title in Halle. The Croatian won the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech in April 2017 for his maiden title. Coric saved five match points against German Philipp Kohlschreiber in that title match.

2. Big-Match Borna
He improved to 8-14 against Top 5 players with his win against Federer. Coric also counts wins against Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray among those. Coric has lost both of his FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Novak Djokovic, who he will meet in Sunday’s final. “I love the big stage,” Coric told ATP World Tour Uncovered earlier this year.

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3. Early Riser
Coric had beaten Nadal and Murray before he was even 19 years old. Coric beat the Spaniard when he was 17 (Basel 2014) and Murray when he was 18 (Dubai 2015). The Croatian was the 2014 ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates for being the youngest player to finish in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings.

4. Career-High ATP Ranking
Coric will rise to a career-high No. 13 in the ATP Rankings on 15 October. He arrived in Shanghai at No. 19, one place short of his current career-high No. 18 position achieved on 10 September.

Watch: Coric Returns To His Home Croatia

5. Worth The Wait
Coric entered Shanghai with an 0-2 record in Asia this year. The 21-year-old lost his opening match in Chengdu (l. to Norrie) and Beijing (l. to Lopez) before stunning Federer en route to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 championship match in Shanghai.

6. Former #NextGenATP Star
The 21-year-old Coric will turn 22 on 14 November, making him ineligible for the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan. But the Croatian had success during the inaugural event last year, going unbeaten in group play before falling in the semi-finals to Russian Andrey Rublev.

New Team, New Borna
Coric had worked with a number of coaches during the past few years. Earlier this year, he talked about how the frequent changes had hurt his tennis.

But this year Coric has been working with Kristijan Schneider and Riccardo Piatti and, judging by the results, the partnership has worked. Piatti is the main coach who doesn’t travel to every event; Schneider travels to most tournaments. Coric’s countryman Ivan Ljubicic is also on his team as his manager.

Watch Uncovered: Borna Back On Track

8. Fewer The Goals, The Better
Coric believes in goals but is now focused on having the right goals. The past two seasons, Coric wrote his goals down and focused on them throughout the year. But he was never hitting the marks, such as reaching the Top 20. This year, Coric changed his goal-setting outlook: No goals, only hard work concentrated on improving his game.

“I’m going to work on my game and we’ll see where it’s going to get me,” Coric told

9. Not A Fan Of ‘Ordinary’
On his right bicep, Coric has a tattoo that reflects one of his life philosophies: ‘There is nothing worse in life than being ordinary’. He has showed it off on his Instagram.

10. The Camping Life
Coric played his first tournament outside of Croatia in Rome in 2005. He lost in the final, and his parents and sister went with him and stayed in a camper van.

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Roger: 'I'm Happy How I'm Playing'

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

Roger: ‘I’m Happy How I’m Playing’

Federer upbeat after semi-final loss in Shanghai

Roger Federer fell short of reaching his fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters final on Saturday, losing in straight sets to the ever-improving Borna Coric. And while the loss is disappointing, the top seed is taking positives from his first event since the US Open.

“I must say I felt overall actually pretty good. So I’m happy about that,” Federer said. “It’s definitely something I can build on now for Basel and then for London and maybe Paris. I’m happy how the body has felt this week.”

Federer, who is next scheduled to play at the Swiss Indoors Basel (begins 22 October), a tournament he has won eight times, will drop to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, with Novak Djokovic ascending to the No. 2 spot. But the Swiss did well to battle through two tough three-setters against Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai before showing some of his best form in ousting red-hot Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

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“I’m actually happy. I feel like I’m explosive out there, returning well. Serving, I think, it’s okay, could be even a little bit better. I don’t think I played a match where I didn’t get broken, so that’s something a bit more unusual for me,” said Federer, who has already guaranteed his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. “But regardless, I think the court allowed for great ball striking. I felt like I got some great rhythm, whereas in Cincinnati I came out of the tournament, I was, like, ‘I don’t know where my game is. It’s the finals. Not bad. But I couldn’t tell you if I’m hitting the ball well or not’.”

Federer is referring to this year’s Western & Southern Open where he lost to Djokovic in the final as the Serbian completed his Career Golden Masters by lifting the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy he was missing. Perhaps the one thing the Swiss will focus on moving forward is holding serve.

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The 37-year-old began the week fifth all-time in service games won at 88.8 per cent, according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats. This week, he was victorious in 41 of 50 service games, a rate of 82 per cent. Coric broke Federer twice in the semi-finals.

“He didn’t give me many chances on his serve, and for me to stay with him, I should have maybe done a better job on my own serve,” Federer said. “But then again, it wasn’t bad either. And then in the rallies, I thought he had more punch than me. Maybe it’s a lot of tennis this week, but quite honestly, I’m happy how I’m playing… This was a good week again. I’m happy about my reaction after the US Open.”

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As simple as it sounds, Coric was simply the better player on Saturday evening. For Federer, there’s no big secret about it.

“I thought he was better. I think he had more punch on the ball. He served better,” Federer said. “I think that’s it.”

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Djokovic reaches Shanghai final to claim number two ranking

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

Novak Djokovic produced a dominant display to thrash Alexander Zverev to reach the Shanghai Masters final and claim the world number two ranking.

Serbia’s Djokovic, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, beat the German world number five 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour.

He will rise one place in the rankings on Monday, overtaking Roger Federer – who he will face in the final if the Swiss beats Borna Coric (13:00 BST).

Djokovic, 31, is on a 17-match winning streak.

That run includes titles at the US Open and Cincinnati Masters. The Wimbledon champion last lost a match in the Rogers Cup third round on 10 August.

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Kubot/Melo Set To Return To Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2018

Kubot/Melo Set To Return To Nitto ATP Finals

Polish/Brazilian team to make second team appearance in London

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo have become the fourth doubles team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. The Polish-Brazilian team secured their place as a result of advancing on Saturday to the Rolex Shanghai Masters final, which represented their sixth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title match (3-2 record).

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Kubot and Melo have captured three ATP World Tour titles in 2018 on the hard courts of the Sydney International (d. Struff/Troicki) and the China Open in Beijing (d. Marach/Pavic), plus the Gerry Weber Open grass-court crown in Halle (d. Zverev/Zverev). Last month, the duo also finished runner-up at the US Open (l. to M. Bryan/Sock).

Melo has now qualified for the prestigious season finale for the sixth straight year (since 2013). Three years ago, the Brazilian advanced to the final in London with Ivan Dodig (l. to Bryans). Kubot has competed at The O2 in London in 2009-10, 2014 and 2017, when, together with Melo, they finished as the year-end No. 1 team and advanced to the championship match (l. to Kontinen/Peers).

Kubot, currently World No. 5, became No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on 8 January 2018 and has spent a total of 19 weeks at the summit of men’s professional tennis. Melo has also led the team game, on a total of four occasions for 56 weeks overall.

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