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Zverev Begins US Open Campaign

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches on Tuesday as he moved past American Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the second round at the US Open.

The German has been in dominant form in recent weeks, defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Tokyo Olympics singles gold medal, before capturing his fifth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati earlier this month.

“It is great to be back,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “I still remember last year’s final. I still remember the four-hour match that I lost, unfortunately. It is great to be back on Arthur Ashe Stadium and have the fans back, we definitely missed them last year.”

Zverev showcased this confidence against Querrey as he hammered 36 winners and broke four times to advance in one hour and 39 minutes. The 24-year-old will next face either Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas or former World No. 10 Lucas Pouille as he aims to lift his maiden major trophy in New York over the next fortnight.

”I hope in two weeks’ time I will be on an 18-match winning streak,” Zverev said. “Novak [Djokovic] is chasing history to win all four majors for the first time since Rod Laver [1969], but I think the young guys are going to try and get in the way of that. I am looking forward to maybe giving him a challenge as well.”

The 17-time tour-level titlist, who came within two points of clinching his first major title at last year’s US Open (l. to Thiem), has also lifted trophies on hard in Acapulco and clay in Madrid this season, while reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros in June.

“I have been working extremely hard on a lot of things, like my serve,” Zverev added. “But when I am happy it is when I am playing well. That is the most important thing. The past year has been very good for me.”

In a tight first two sets, Zverev waited patiently for his opportunities, breaking at the end in both as he raised his level, hitting with greater depth and consistency to put pressure on Querrey’s serve. The fourth seed hit 18 aces and did not face a break point in the match, racing through the third set to seal his victory.

Querrey, who overcame Mischa Zverev to reach the quarter-finals in New York in 2017, was making his 15th appearance at the US Open.

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Grand Slam Glory: How Djokovic Caught Roger And Rafa

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

Around the time Roger Federer won his first major singles title, at Wimbledon in 2003, Novak Djokovic was playing a Futures event in Beograd, Serbia. He was 16 years old, ranked No. 768 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and won $480 for reaching the semi-finals.

When Federer won the 2007 US Open, his 12th major singles title, Djokovic, now 20, had zero. By the time of Federer’s record-breaking 15th Grand Slam championship, at 2009 Wimbledon, Djokovic had finally gotten on the board, winning the 2008 Australian Open.

That was a dozen years ago. Heading into this US Open, Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal all have a once-unimaginable 20 major titles, but only the Serb will step on court at Flushing Meadows this year. He is favoured to become the first to 21 and, for good measure, to complete a Grand Slam.

How did Djokovic catch his great rivals them so quickly?

Brad Gilbert, sitting in his northern California home, laughs and repeats the question.

“How did he catch them?” the ESPN analyst asks. “A s*%#load of winning. He’s won eight out of the past 12, OK? Fed has none in that time, and Rafa has three – which isn’t all that bad. The bottom line is that Djokovic has been more prolific in his early 30s.”

Djokovic, still only 34 years old, has huge advantages of time, age and physical fitness on his rivals going forward. Federer, who turned 40 in August, is out for the year after announcing another knee surgery. Nadal, 35, will also miss the US Open and the remainder of the year with a foot injury. Djokovic, whose training regimen famously features yoga, tai chi and lots of stretching, remains limber and lithe, fluid and flexible.

“For as long as he has been playing, Novak’s been chasing Roger and Rafa,” said four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier, “and is now on the verge of passing them in the major title count.

“To win as much as he has is already incredible, but to do it in this era with the other two greatest players on the other side of the net boggles the mind.”

Here’s another mind-boggler: Since Federer’s breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2003, the Big Three has won 60 of the 72 major singles titles available – an unprecedented swath of success. Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka managed to win three each, followed by Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic, Marat Safin, Gaston Gaudio, Andy Roddick and Dominic Thiem, with one each.

In 2003, a gallon of gas cost $1.89, iTunes was launched and J.K. Rowling published her fifth Harry Potter book – so it’s been a virtual monopoly on majors for close to two decades. Because of their age differences – and personal curves of physical and mental maturity – each player has enjoyed a significant run of dominance.

Federer reached 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals from 2005 Wimbledon to the 2007 US Open, where he was 8-2, with the losses coming to Nadal. Nadal’s best streak, when he won eight of 17 major titles, came from Roland Garros 2010-14.

With Federer, then Nadal and now Djokovic all taking their turn at the top, it’s been difficult for the rest of the ATP field to break through. It’s also worth noting that each of the Big Three has a different favourite major. Nadal has 13 Roland Garros titles, while Federer is an eight-time Wimbledon champion. Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles and is the only man to win all four twice.

Djokovic, as Gilbert points out, has now won eight of the past 12 majors – all of them after turning 30. Ultimately, the post-30 scoreboard has proved to be the difference-maker: Djokovic (8), Nadal (6), Federer (4).

Consistency has been Djokovic’s career calling card. Djokovic has spend 336 weeks at No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, passing Federer’s record mark of 310 weeks earlier in the season. It’s conceivable that Djokovic next year will even top the 377 weeks Stefanie Graf sat atop the WTA Rankings. 

One man who will be keenly watching Djokovic’s progress at the US Open is Australian Rod Laver. Just in from a round of golf near his home in southern California, Laver marvelled at Djokovic’s 2021 form.

“It’s amazing,” Laver says, “that Djokovic is playing as good as he is.”

Photo Credit: Pete Staples/USTA
Laver is the only tennis player in history to win all four Grand Slam titles in a single season twice, in 1962 and 1969. Djokovic is in position to become only the third man to achieve the Grand Slam. He won titles earlier this year at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Don Budge won the Grand Slam in 1939, followed by Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Graf (1988).

Djokovic actually held all four major titles simultaneously, winning 2015 Wimbledon, the 2015 US Open, the 2016 Australian Open (beating Federer in all three finals) and 2016 Roland Garros (Andy Murray). Three women — Navratilova, Graf and Serena Williams — have also won non-calendar Grand Slams.

“I think Novak’s got a good chance to win the Slam,” Laver adds. “He’s a worthy champion.”

After winning at Wimbledon, Djokovic made the long journey to Tokyo, hoping to win an Olympic gold medal and set himself up for an attempt to equal Graf’s Golden Slam of 1988. He reached the semi-finals, but fell to Alexander Zverev, later losing the bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta.

“Will he win in New York?” Gilbert asks. “It will be interesting to see. He didn’t play Toronto or Cincinnati coming in. He loses three times in 2021, then loses on back-to-back days in Tokyo.

“Can he hit the re-set button in New York? There will be a lot of pressure.”

Courier also referenced the p-word.

“I think he’ll do it [win the US Open], but the pressure will be unlike anything he has experienced,” Courier says. “He is not likely to get another chance to go for a Grand Slam, so it adds massive weight to the moment.

“We saw what happened when Serena was in this position in New York some years ago and was upset in the semis by an unlikely foe, Roberta Vinci.”

Williams had won the first three majors of 2015, reached the US Open semi-finals by beating sister Venus in the quarters, but lost to Vinci for the only time in her career. Likewise, Serena has been 0-4 in attempting to secure a record-tying 24th major singles title at the ages of 36 and 37.

Courier believes the next two weeks could go a long way toward determining the sport’s GOAT – the Greatest Of All Time.

“If Novak becomes the only one of the big three to win the Grand Slam,” Courier says, “it would be a large differentiator and important part of the eventual discussion of who had the greatest career.”

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Fashion Court: Musetti Takes His Inspiration From This Legend…

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

Lorenzo Musetti has taken the ATP Tour by storm this year with wins over stars including Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov. The 19-year-old begins the US Open in fifth in the ATP Race To Milan, as he tries to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, which will be held in Milan from 9-13 November.

The Italian is excited to try to earn his spot in the 21-and-under season finale, and Musetti is also a fan of Milan itself.

“Milan is the city centre in Europe for fashion,” Musetti said. “It is a business, it is really technologically [advanced], investing a lot of money in future things and big events. I think Rome and Milan are the biggest cities in Italy. Rome is more historic and Milan is more the new city, the future. We are the Next Gen and the future.”

Before Musetti continues his push for Milan at Flushing Meadows — and ahead of New York Fashion Week (8-12 September) — spoke to the #NextGenATP star about his style, the legend whom he draws fashion inspiration from and more.

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How much do you like the fashion industry?
I like it. I did something with Nike, I did a photoshoot with Moncler. I like to be in the fashion world because I like to not just play tennis, but have space with everything [else I enjoy]. I like to dress a little bit differently. A lot of brands like my style, my character, so I think I am going to get into a nice situation [in fashion].

Who is your fashion inspiration?
Roger Federer. Even if he doesn’t show too much, he is one of the icons in fashion. His look is always elegant, simple but classic and elegant. I tried to copy him a little bit and I think it is working. My inspiration off the court was always Roger.


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What is the one thing you would never wear?
Sandals! Never! I can wear flip-flops, but I really don’t like sandals.

What is your go-to outfit when you are out for dinner?
I keep it simple. Blue pants, [usually] long pants. Nike shoes [or] sneakers and a white t-shirt and one jacket. Really simple without so many collars, nice and easy.

Outside of tennis, is there a person whose fashion you like?
Outside of tennis, the fashion goes way too much. Maybe sometimes it is too weird and too strange, so I come back to the classic looks. I am much more [into] simple and classic [fashion].


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Did You Know?
After a breakthrough performance in Rome last year, Musetti landed the Esquire Italia cover. Read more about the photoshoot and interview he did for the magazine here.

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Djokovic Begins Historic Quest, Zverev Also In US Open Action Tuesday

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic starts his quest for tennis immortality and the Grand Slam on Tuesday, when recent Western & Southern Open titlist Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov also compete. A number of #NextGenATP players, including Italians Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, and American Sebastian Korda, will be hoping to impress in New York City.

As the first male player in 52 years to hold the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon crowns in the same season, all eyes will be on how Djokovic copes with the pressure and weight of expectation at the final major championship of 2021. The 34-year-old, who won the 2011, 2015 and 2018 US Open titles, has been quick to deflect the pressure. But he’ll come across a familiar face during his night session clash against qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Rune, who recently became the fourth teenager — after Nick Kyrgios, Taylor Fritz and Carlos Alcaraz — since 2010 to win back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles, is making his major championship debut and has not met a Top 10 opponent before. But the former junior World No. 1 knows Djokovic’s game.

In March, Rune reached out to the World No. 1 to arrange two practice sessions at the Monte-Carlo County Club, having seen a video of Djokovic sweeping a clay-court. “He was so kind and we got the practice organised and had two very good practices with each other at a very good level,” Rune told

The 18-year-old also got the opportunity to see just how tough the Serbian superstar, who has compiled a 38-5 match record this season, really is. “I think his consistency is incredible, how he just keeps hitting the ball in the same spot in a varied level of pace,” said Rune. “That was probably the most impressive thing.”

Over the next fortnight, Djokovic is not only bidding to follow in the footsteps of Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and complete the Grand Slam, but he is also hoping to win seven straight matches and break a tie with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with a record-breaking 21 major singles trophies.

Of course, Djokovic will be wary of the threat of fourth seed Zverev, who features in the same half of the 2021 US Open draw and broke a five-match losing streak against the World No. 1 en route to the Tokyo Olympics gold medal earlier this month.

Eleven matches unbeaten has given the German a whole heap of confidence and, having come within two points of his first major title at last year’s US Open (l. to Thiem), the next fortnight may prove to be a major stepping stone. Zverev will be looking to extend his perfect 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against American Sam Querrey, the 2017 quarter-finalist, first on the main show court at 12 noon.

Having picked up his fifth ATP Masters 1000 title two weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Zverev admitted, “It has been a pretty incredible month for me… I hope I continue this wave here in New York and we’ll see how it goes.”


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Another potential obstacle in the way of Djokovic’s historic quest may well be sixth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini, who features in the Serbian’s quarter of the draw. Berrettini may have played just two matches since losing to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on 11 July, but has long impressed with his raw power — 459 aces in 41 matches this year — and ability to play on all surfaces.

The 25-year-old, who takes on France’s Jeremy Chardy on Tuesday second on Grandstand, also won’t be overawed by the atmosphere in New York, two years on from reaching his first major semi-final with notable wins over Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils at Flushing Meadows.

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Three young players — 20-year-old Sinner, 21-year-old Korda and 19-year-old Musetti — who are in the first five positions in the ATP Race To Milan for a place at the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, will all be attempting to record their first match wins at the US Open on Tuesday.

Sinner, who is aiming to beat Australia’s Max Purcell for his first win on his third visit to New York, broke into the Top 15 of the FedEx ATP Rankings earlier this month with victory over Mackenzie McDonald at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. As the youngest ATP 500 champion since the tournament category was created in 2009, Sinner remains in contention for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Korda sits at a career-high No. 45, with 23 match wins in a breakthrough year that includes his first ATP Tour title at the Emilia-Romagna Open (d. Cecchinato) in May. The American plays Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili for the first time. Musetti, who led Djokovic by two-sets-to-love in the Roland Garros fourth round in June, bids to snap a six-match losing streak against American Emilio Nava.


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Tennis fans can also follow the fortunes of three more Top 10 seeds on day two. Seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, who became the first Canadian men’s quarter-finalist in US Open tournament history in 2020, plays Argentina’s Federico Delbonis third on Louis Armstrong. Ninth-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the 2017 and 2020 semi-finalist, faces Maxime Cressy – one of 21 American men in the main draw – on Court 4, and Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz takes on Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov second on Court 11.

Elsewhere, one of the sport’s breakout stars of the season, Russian 21st seed Aslan Karatsev — the Australian Open semi-finalist (l. to Djokovic) and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Harris) winner — tackles Spain’s Jaume Munar first on Court 13. Another Russian, No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov, who has gone 12-4 since the start of Wimbledon and picked up the Tokyo Olympics silver medal (l. to Zverev), plays Lloyd Harris of South Africa.

Australia’s No. 14 seed Alex de Minaur will round out play on Tuesday in the last match on Louis Armstrong against American Taylor Fritz. De Minaur, the 2020 US Open quarter-finalist, has a 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against Fritz, dating back to their first meeting at the 2018 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

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Medvedev Records 200th Match Win, Beats Gasquet At US Open

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

Former finalist Daniil Medvedev completed the 200th match win of his career in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the US Open. The second-seeded Russian swept past 2013 semi-finalist Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in just under two hours, but admitted he struggled physically in the third set.

“There was a lot of matches to watch today, and a lot of humidity,” said Medvedev, in an on-court interview. “The score appears that it was relatively easy, but it wasn’t. In the third set, I was not that great physically, so it was better that I was two sets up and I didn’t end up playing a five-set match.”

Since the conclusion of Wimbledon, the 25-year-old has compiled a 12-2 match record, including a fourth ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers (d. Opelka).

Second seed Medvedev put pressure on Gasquet from the Frenchman’s first service game, but only secured the first break in the 10th game. The 35-year-old Gasquet didn’t give up, and had Medvedev at 15/40 when the Russian served for the second set at 5-3. The third set was one-way traffic, with Medvedev completing his milestone victory shortly before 1am local time with his 37th winner, a forehand down the line.

Medvedev, who struck 15 aces and won 36 of 41 first-service points, memorably rallied from two sets down versus Rafael Nadal before falling in five sets in the 2019 US Open final. Last year, he did not drop a set en route to the semi-finals (l. to Thiem).

He will next play Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, who was a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victor over French qualifier Quentin Halys. Following his victory over Gasquet, Medvedev spoke about his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(2) win over Koepfer in the 2019 US Open fourth round, “I remember it was a very tough match and all the stadium was for him. He played an unbelievable first set-and-a-half.”

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Alcaraz Races Past Norrie In US Open Debut

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2021

World No.55 Carlos Alcaraz made a statement debut at the US Open on Monday, as he needed only an hour and 53 minutes to blast 38 winners past the 26th seed Cameron Norrie. The #NextGenATP Spaniard advanced to the second round in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-3.

“I’ve played a lot of tournaments on hard court. I played Winston-Salem and Cincinnati. To be able to win… matches at each tournament made me feel more comfortable before coming here,” Alcaraz said. “Now I feel I can play against everyone. I feel that I’m playing a really good game.”

The 2021 Umag Open champion, who is coached by former World No.1 and 2003 US Open finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero, looked in complete control throughout the match. In the first set, Norrie was unable to create a break point chance and could only get three winners past Alcaraz.

The 18-year-old ultimately broke the Brit’s serve at 4-4 and closed out the first set after 36 minutes. The pair went toe-to-toe at the start of the second set before Alcaraz took an early 2-0 lead, but Norrie, 26, raised his level immediately and broke back to level the match at 2-2.

Norrie, the 2021 Los Cabos Champion, was under pressure immediately as he was unable to cope with the pace of Alcaraz’s inside-in forehand into his backhand, which appeared to be a main tactic from the Spaniard. After that moment, the British No.2 was unable to find any sort of momentum in the set. 

The World No. 29 made more inroads in the third set but was broken in the opening game on a double fault. Norrie was still unable to read Alcaraz’s forehand and was consistently left guessing. The Spaniard finished the match when he broke Norrie for the sixth time.

“Right now I feel very comfortable on court. I feel like I am playing [at a] good level… That means alot to me,” Alcaraz said. “That means I’m playing really good and I’m doing the right things. So I’m really happy with that…I played a very serious match, focused all the time. I’m really happy with everything with the match.” 

Alcaraz won 78 per cent of points behind his first serve in the one-hour, 55-minute victory. He will next face World No. 83 Arthur Rinderknech after the Frenchman completed an epic comeback from two sets down to defeat Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-7(10), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. It will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. 

Alcaraz, who is fourth in the ATP Race to Milan, ensured he remained undefeated in first-round matches at majors. He lost in the third round at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and the second round at Wimbledon this year.  

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