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Djokovic: 'The Pain Kind Of Faded Away'

  • Posted: Oct 07, 2020

Novak Djokovic did not have it easy Wednesday evening at Roland Garros, overcoming neck and shoulder issues to find his form and battle past Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets to reach the semi-finals for the 10th time. Although it wasn’t perfect, the Serbian explained on court after the match that he keeps things in perspective.

Reaching the last four at a Grand Slam, whether his victory was pretty or not, is still a big accomplishment.

“These four tournaments, the four Grand Slams matter the most probably in tennis history. [They are] the most popular tennis events in the world. A lot of kids, when they take a racquet in their hands, they dream of winning Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been very fortunate to play very well throughout my career in Grand Slams.

“It’s not only my success. It’s the success of my team, my family that has been supporting me throughout my whole life. It wasn’t easy growing up in a war-torn country and without any tennis guidance or tennis tradition, really. To succeed in this beautiful sport means a lot to me. I try to be conscious of every achievement, be grateful for it and put things in perspective.”

Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam titles, trailing only Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19) for the most in history. The Serbian is also the only player to complete the Career Golden Masters — winning all nine ATP Masters 1000 events — which he has done twice.

The World No. 1 is still very much alive at Roland Garros after a resilient performance against 17th seed Carreno Busta, who was pursuing his first semi-final appearance in Paris.

“I’m feeling okay,” Djokovic said. “As the match progressed, I warmed up my body and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better.”

Djokovic made an uncharacteristic 16 unforced errors in the first set. But he cut down his mistakes, only making 25 unforced errors in the next three sets combined. The top seed will next face reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is into his maiden Roland Garros semi-final.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, deservedly where he is in [FedEx ATP] Rankings. He’s been playing the tennis of his life in the past 12 months,” Djokovic said. “He has an all-around game. He’s a big guy, big serve. He has weapons, obviously [his] serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well.”

Djokovic has won three of their five ATP Head2Head meetings, including a 6-3, 6-4 victory in their only previous clay-court clash in last year’s Mutua Madrid Open final. But the Serbian knows the 22-year-old has improved steadily since then.

“I think he’s one of the hardest-working guys out there. He has a great team, obviously his father, Patrick Mouratoglou in his corner as well,” Djokovic said. “I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us. [It’s the] semi-finals of a Grand Slam, this is what you expect. You expect to play a top five, top 10 player. This is what I get. I’m hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”

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Tiafoe on Musetti: "We're Going To Have Many Battles For Years To Come."

  • Posted: Oct 07, 2020

When Frances Tiafoe and Lorenzo Musetti met in Forli, Italy, two weeks ago, the 22-year-old found himself under attack from the start.

Carrying the momentum from a breakthrough run at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, the 18-year-old Musetti employed an all-out assault of backhand winners, drop shots and dominant serving. Tiafoe had no answer in what was his first clay-court match in more than a year.

Two weeks later, the Maryland native ensured that history wouldn’t repeat itself. Same stage, same round, same surface, different result. Tiafoe drew level with Musetti with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win in Parma on Wednesday. He needed one hour and 42 minutes to secure the second-round victory at the Internazionali di Tennis Emilia Romagna.

After their second ATP Challenger Tour encounter, Tiafoe was already looking ahead to what he expects will be a long rivalry.

“I’m happy I won this one, but we’re going to have battles for years to come,” said Tiafoe after the match. “He’s an unbelievable player and Italian tennis is doing great with him, Sinner, Berrettini and Fognini. Hopefully they keep going.

“I didn’t want to be down 0-2 against him, so I battled hard. So did he. There were some tight points at the end, but I got it done.”

On this day, Musetti was not as sharp from the back of the court and Tiafoe took full advantage. The top seed established a more consistent rhythm, converting two of three break chances, while capitalising on the colder and faster conditions.

Tiafoe is targeting a return to the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings as the 2020 season enters its final months. The former World No. 29 is finding his legs on clay after reaching the Round of 16 at the US Open in in early September.

“I was much higher ranked, but I need to play these tough matches and get my ranking back up. These are the events you have to play to get there.”

Tiafoe will next face another Italian – qualifier Filippo Baldi – in Friday’s quarter-finals. A quartet of former ATP Tour champions also reside in his half of the draw, with Federico Delbonis facing Paolo Lorenzi and Philipp Kohlschreiber battling Marco Cecchinato.

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Rublev Eyes Finals Berth, But 'Needs To Improve' After Paris Exit

  • Posted: Oct 07, 2020

Andrey Rublev is hoping to continue his run of form through to the end of the 2020 season and possibly qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

Speaking after his Roland Garros quarter-final exit to Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Russian admitted, “Of course, I would like to be there. I would like to do everything, [but] in the end I cannot control this. I will do my best. I will try to fight in every tournament, then we’ll see if I deserve it or not.”

The 22-year-old has compiled a 29-7 match record on the season, including three ATP Tour titles at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Moutet), the Adelaide International (d. Harris) and the Hamburg European Open (d. Tsitsipas).

“I can be only grateful for the past couple of weeks,” admitted Rublev, who also reached the US Open quarter-finals (l. to Medvedev). “All the matches that [I have played]. I made one more quarter-final, especially after almost being out of the tournament in the first round [against Sam Querrey].”

Rublev had never won a match at Roland Garros, but battled back from two-sets-to-love down to Querrey to make his first Roland Garros quarter-final.

“There’s so many things I need to work on, so many things that I need to improve,” said Rublev. “Now is a good time to do it, and to be ready for the next season.”

“After all the tournaments that I’ve been playing, I can see what I’m missing, what I’m doing well, what I’m doing not well, what I’m doing wrong. It’s easier now to work, than during quarantine when you don’t know how to compare what [your] level is, how [are] the other guys. Now everything is clear and it’s time to work.”

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