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Djokovic: 'I Lost To A Better Opponent'

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Djokovic: ‘I Lost To A Better Opponent’

World No. 1 says Medvedev ‘provokes unforced errors from everyone’

Novak Djokovic was searching for his best tennis throughout Friday’s semi-final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. But following a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Daniil Medvedev, the World No. 1 didn’t have to look too far to find the key reason behind his first loss of the season.

“I lost to a better opponent,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “I know that I didn’t play well in some decisive moments, but it was also due to his quality of tennis. It’s unfortunate I had some really bad mistakes in the first set to give him the second break. But this is tennis. You learn from your mistakes and from the defeats, and hopefully next time I’ll be better.”

The 35-year-old, who entered the match a perfect 15-0 in 2023, complimented the World No. 7’s consistency and defence as the key factors in Friday’s contest as he struggled to find his own rhythm. The World No. 1 committed 38 unforced errors to Medvedev’s 12. Although the 22-time major champion still holds a 9-5 ATP Head2Head advantage over Medvedev, he knows that the 27-year-old’s counterpunching ability can bring even the best players unglued.

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“He extracts and provokes unforced errors from everybody because that’s his game, that’s what he does,” Djokovic said. “He does it extremely well. He’s very patient. He’s very athletic. For his height, he moves well. Backhand is one of the most consistent strokes that you have in today’s game.”

Despite suffering his first straight-sets defeat since the 2022 Laver Cup (l. Auger-Aliassime), Djokovic is remaining upbeat. Though he won’t be lifting the Dubai trophy for a sixth time, the Belgrade native still made history Monday by marking his 378th week as World No. 1, surpassing Stefanie Graf’s record for most weeks atop the sport by a men’s or women’s player.

A two-time titlist this year, Djokovic stated that he is leaving the U.A.E. pleased with the recovery progress he’s made since suffering a hamstring injury in Australia.

“Lots of positives,” Djokovic said. “The way I felt throughout the entire week makes me really satisfied with the current state of my body, not knowing how I [was] going to react with the comeback after an injury. I’m really glad. We move on to the next challenge.”

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Djokovic’s immediate playing schedule depends on the outcome of his request for an exemption to the United States’ entry requirements for non citizens, who must provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination before entering the country. If Djokovic is not granted an exemption and misses Indian Wells and Miami, his next tournament will be in Monte Carlo.

“I’m still waiting for the news from America,” Djokovic said. “If there’s no America, I guess I’ll play clay. Monte Carlo is probably the next tournament. If that’s the case, I’ll take some time off, I’ll prepare. Clay is the most demanding surface. It takes more time than any other surface to prepare for.”

Regardless if his next match is played on a hard court or clay, Djokovic is eager for his next battle.

“I take every tournament, every match very seriously, dedicate my whole life to this,” Djokovic said. “So, of course, it hurts when you lose. I care about every match. But at the same time you just have to release it and go forward.

“Good thing about tennis is that you always have another opportunity. So many tournaments. Basically every week you have another chance to reconcile, so to say, [and] rewrite your history once again. I’m looking forward to the challenges to come.”

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A Love Letter To Tennis: Daniil Medvedev

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

A Love Letter To Tennis: Daniil Medvedev

27-year-old is a former World No. 1

Daniil Medvedev quickly had a dream to make it to the top after first holding a racquet aged six.

The 27-year-old has achieved a lot since then. He has lifted 17 tour-level titles, including the Nitto ATP Finals crown and the US Open, while he reached No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2022. Medvedev reflected on his tennis journey in ‘A Love Letter To Tennis’.

“Dear tennis, I remember when I was six years old and I just loved running around with the racquet,” Medvedev said. “Consciously I fell in love with you when I understood this feeling of competitiveness that you have because it is one against one, and only one player wins.”

He later added: “The journey of my career so far with you was for sure very exciting. It was better than I could have imagined as a kid. I absolutely love it and I am really proud of what I have achieved with you.”


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After rising to No. 1 for the first time last February, Medvedev struggled to find his best level. He failed to advance beyond the semi-finals at the five ATP Masters 1000 events he played in 2022 and he lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros and the US Open.

The World No. 7 has bounced back in 2023, though, capturing titles in Rotterdam and Doha. Medvedev, who ended Novak Djokovic’s perfect start to 2023 in the Dubai semi-finals, is thankful for the discipline the sport has given him.

“The biggest challenge you brought me is being able to push every day, no matter how hard it is,” Medvedev said. “Sometimes I lose some matches, I lose some confidence and I know that the next day when I am going to practise everything is going to be feeling very bad, sometimes extremely . But in order to feel good after you have to continue pushing, and that’s what you taught me.”

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Not satisfied yet, Medvedev is determined to push on and win more.

“I have so many memorable moments with you, so I’m not going to choose one because all the moments from start to finish were amazing and it is not finished yet,” Medvedev said. “We had some tough ones, we had some good ones and I’m sure we are going to have some amazing good moments together again.”

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Medvedev Ends Djokovic's Unbeaten Run In Dubai

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Medvedev Ends Djokovic’s Unbeaten Run In Dubai

Third seed extends winning streak to 13 matches

Daniil Medvedev moved to within one win of capturing his third consecutive tour-level title Friday when he ended Novak Djokovic’s perfect start to the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

In the 14th chapter of their rivalry, Medvedev was locked in from ball one, triumphing 6-4, 6-4 to extend his winning streak to 13 matches. The third seed stood deep behind the baseline to soak up Djokovic’s ball-striking. Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors compared to 38 from Djokovic and he was rapid around the court, chasing down a number of drop shots to advance after one hour and 35 minutes.

“When you play against Novak you just have to play your best,” Medvedev said. “Kind of hope he doesn’t play his best on the day because when he plays his best, well he has 22 Grand Slams, so even if you play your best, it is going to be tough, not sure you win.

“I managed to play a higher level than him today. In the second set I didn’t face one break point, but there were so many 30/30 games. But I managed to stay composed and I am happy to be in the final tomorrow.”

The 27-year-old lifted tour-level titles in Rotterdam and Doha in February. He will aim to clinch his 18th tour-level crown and 17th on hard courts when he faces Andrey Rublev in the championship match on Saturday.

Top 5: Win-Loss Record 2023

Daniil Medvedev  18-2
Cameron Norrie 18-3
Novak Djokovic 15-1
Taylor Fritz 14-3
Stefanos Tsitsipas 13-2

Medvedev ended Djokovic’s bid to become the first man to complete the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969 when he defeated the Serbian in the 2021 US Open final. But, the top seed entered the clash at the ATP 500 in Dubai off the back of four consecutive wins against Medvedev.

However, he was unable to make it five and improve on his 15-0 start to the season, with the World No. 7 Medvedev limiting errors and winning the longer exchanges to improve to 5-9 in their ATP Head2Head series.

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Djokovic struggled to find consistent rhythm against Medvedev. He served-and-volleyed in the first set to pressurise Medvedev’s deep court return position, but struggled to successfully execute the play. He then threw everything at Medvedev on return in the second set, striking with aggression and depth. However, he was unable to hit through the third seed, who acted like a brick wall.

Medvedev, who is making his third appearance in Dubai, has yet to drop a set this week, also defeating Matteo Arnaldi, Alexander Bublik and Borna Coric.

Djokovic was chasing his sixth title in Dubai, having lifted the trophy in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2020.

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Glasspool/Heliovaara Gain Revenge, Race Into Dubai Final

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Glasspool/Heliovaara Gain Revenge, Race Into Dubai Final

Lammons/Withrow save MP in Acapulco semis

Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara are firing on all cylinders at the 2023 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The British-Finnish duo, who haven’t dropped a set this week, didn’t face a break point en route to ousting top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-4, 6-2 in Friday’s semi-final at the ATP 500.

In 2022, Glasspool and Heliovaara completed a career-best season and made the final four at the coveted Nitto ATP Finals. However, there was one team they couldn’t get past: Croatians Mektic and Pavic, who were a perfect 3-0 against Glasspool and Heliovaara including wins in Turin, at Queen’s Club, and a five-set victory at Wimbledon.

Three-time tour titlists Glasspool and Heliovaara will next look to collect their second crown of this season (Adelaide 1). The third seeds will face Maxime Cressy and Fabrice Martin or Belgian duo Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in Saturday’s championship match.

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Lammons/Withrow Save MP To Reach Acapulco Final
In a dramatic semi-final Friday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Ben McLachlan and Andre Goransson on their fifth match point — but not before saving a match point against them at 9/10 in a Match Tie-break.

Lammons/Withrow earned a 7-5, 6-7(2), 13-11 victory to book their place in the Acapulco final against Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler. The Austrians also won a Match Tie-break to upset top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-4, 4-6, 10-4.

Seyboth Wild/Soto Progress To Santiago Final
Thiago Seyboth Wild and Matias Soto defeated Spaniards Jaume Munar and Pedro Martinez 6-1, 6-7(5), 10-8 on Friday to reach the doubles final at the Movistar Chile Open.

The Brazilian/Chilean team will face Andrea Pellegrino and Andrea Vavassori in Saturday’s final after the Italians received a semi-final walkover from Chileans Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo.

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Rublev Earns Maiden Zverev Win, Reaches Dubai Final

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Rublev Earns Maiden Zverev Win, Reaches Dubai Final

Second seed faces Djokovic or Medvedev in final

Andrey Rublev recorded his first victory over Alexander Zverev in his sixth attempt Friday to move to within one win of defending his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.

The second seed, who saved five match points earlier this week against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, had not won a set in his five previous meetings against seventh-seeded German Zverev. However, Rublev flipped the script with a clean-hitting performance at the ATP 500 event, saving one set point in the second set to triumph 6-3, 7-6(9) on his sixth match point after one hour and 58 minutes.

“I was thinking it was going to be a third set. I was preparing mentally for the third set but I somehow saved a set point,” Rublev said. “I had a couple of match points but he played well but in the end at 9/9, I made a good return and then I said ‘Ok, let’s try to make it here’. I won a crazy rally and I was lucky. It was a super intense tie-break.”

Rublev is aiming to become the third repeat champion in Dubai, joining Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The 25-year-old, who defeated Jiri Vesely in last year’s final, will face top seed Djokovic or third seed Daniil Medvedev in his first championship match of the season.

“We are really good friends, we have known each other since 10 or 11 years old. We have been together since juniors,” Rublev said of his relationship with Zverev. “He was always like an older brother to me and in all the previous matches he beat me. Today when I was going on court I thought I had nothing to lose. He always beats me, so why need to be tight.”

The World No. 6 arrived in Dubai off the back of a disappointing quarter-final exit in Doha last week. He has rediscovered his best form at the hard-court tournament, though, and played with confidence against Zverev.

Rublev flew out of the blocks, breaking in the first game as he took the ball early to force Zverev back. The second seed glided around the baseline to cleanly strike an array of winners down the line, while he committed just six unforced errors in the first set.

After moving ahead, Rublev continued to play aggressively and demonstrated good defence, soaking up Zverev’s heavy-hitting. He squandered one match point on the German’s serve at 5-6 before sealing victory on his sixth match point, after saving a set point at 7/8 in a mammoth tie-break.

Rublev will be chasing his sixth ATP 500 crown and 13th title when he competes in his 18th tour-level final on Saturday.

Zverev was playing in his first semi-final since he suffered his right ankle injury against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros last year. The German is up two spots to No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his run in Dubai.

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Top Seeds Koolhof/Skupski Reach Acapulco SFs

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Top Seeds Koolhof/Skupski Reach Acapulco SFs

Glasspool/Heliovaara, Cressy/Martin reach Dubai semis

The top-seeded duo of Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski were the lone seeds to advance to the quarter-finals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. On Thursday, the Dutch-British team stayed on course for its first title of 2023 with a second straight-sets win on the week.

Koolhof/Skupski defeated Rio de Janeiro semi-finalists Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the last four in Acapulco. They did not face a break point in the match and won 83 per cent of their first-serve points in the win. Despite losing one of the points of the week, when a Reboul lob capped a defensive masterclass from the French team, the top seeds are through to their second semi-final of the season.

Their next opponents will be Austrians Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler, who beat William Blumberg and Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-3.

In the day’s most dramatic match, Andre Goransson and Ben McLachlan edged Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Ben Shelton 6-1, 6-7(4), 11-9. The Swedish-Japanese team clinched victory on its fourth match point after missing out on two on serve at 5-4 in the second set. In the Match Tie-break, they fell behind 7/8 after holding leads of 5/0 and 7/2, but recovered to win four of the last five points.

SFs Set In Dubai
Two straightforward Thursday quarter-finals rounded out the last four at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Third seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara beat Indian lucky losers Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni 6-4, 6-3, while Maxime Cressy and Fabrice Martin defeated Dutchmen Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop 6-4, 6-3. Neither pair has dropped a set this week at the ATP 500.

Glasspool/Heliovaara will face top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the semis, with Cressy/Martin set to meet Belgian lucky losers Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.

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Chileans Barrios Vera/Tabilo Down Top Seeds In Santiago
All three seeded teams in action on Thursday at the Movistar Chile Open were upset, with home favourites Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo knocking off top seeds Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.

The Chileans scored a 6-1, 3-6, 10-7 victory to advance to the semi-finals. They will meet Italians Andrea Pellegrino and Andrea Vavassori, who upset third seeds Nicolas Barrientos and Ariel Behar 7-6(12), 6-3.

In the other half of the draw, Spaniards Pedro Martinez and Jaume Munar downed fourth seeds Francisco Cabral and Nikola Cacic 6-4, 6-4, while Thiago Seyboth Wild and Matias Soto beat N.Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.

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Fritz Beats Tiafoe In Acapulco Battle Of Top-Ranked Americans

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Fritz Beats Tiafoe In Acapulco Battle Of Top-Ranked Americans

Paul, De Minaur also advance to semi-finals

In a Thursday matchup of the top two Americans in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Taylor Fritz underlined his status as the No. 1 man from the United States with a straight-sets win against Frances Tiafoe at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

The Acapulco third seed earned a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an entertaining match that crescendoed as it neared its conclusion. Tiafoe, playing to the crowd, turned on the style with an underhand serve and a slew of drop shots as he tried to recover an early break in the second set. But Fritz, who landed just 50 per cent of his first serves, finished the job to reach his third semi-final in as many events.

“I’m happy with how I played the big points,” said the 25-year-old, who saved all four break points he faced, including three in the second set. “It’s really easy to get frustrated with myself when I’m missing every first serve.

“It’s really easy to get down on myself for that, and I kind of just fought it out, accepted that I’m going to have to play and grind out all these points and I wasn’t going to be getting the amount of free points that I’m used to getting. I’m pretty proud of how I competed through a lot of those long games on my serve.”

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Fritz scored an early break in both sets, in the fourth game of the opener and the first game of set two. While Tiafoe challenged the World No. 5’s serve, Fritz was able to erase each of those four break points — not with big serves, but by coming up with the goods in several dramatic rallies.

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With Tiafoe trailing 2-4 in the second, he mixed in a well-placed underarm serve at 40/0 to spark a fun point that ended on a missed Fritz tweener, sparking smiles from both men and cheers from the crowd. But after missing out on two break points in the previous game, Tiafoe was not able to threaten on return down the stretch.

Fritz earned his sixth straight win against Tiafoe, improving to 6-1 in their ATP Head2Head that dates back to 2016. He also extended his current winning streak to seven after his Delray Beach title last month, with just two sets lost in those seven wins.

Fritz will next face another American in seventh seed Tommy Paul, a 6-2, 6-2 winner against countryman Mackenzie McDonald earlier in the day.

“I’d say it’s similar to how I would play Frances,” Fritz said of the matchup. “He’s one of my close friends, we both know each other’s game really well. Tommy’s been playing well. It’s been a while since we’ve played each other and it’s going to be a good match.”

Fritz leads their ATP Head2Head 2-1, with their most recent meeting last year in Miami.

In Paul’s win against McDonald, both sets played out identically in terms of games won, with the seventh seed breaking serve in the fourth and the final game of each. After saving an early break point, Paul won 16 straight points on serve beginning in his last service game of the opening set. He finished with 19 winners and 6 unforced errors.

Eighth seed Alex de Minaur also advanced to the Acapulco semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Japan’s Taro Daniel. The Aussie will face Holger Rune or Matteo Berrettini on Friday.

De Minaur won the final four games of both sets in the victory and did not face a break point after he dropped serve at 2-0 in the opener. The 24-year-old was untouchable on his first serve, losing only one point behind it (21/22) in the one-hour, 37-minute match — though he landed his first delivery at a 42 per cent clip.

The World No. 22 has stormed into the Acapulco semis with the loss of just eight games in three matches. He defeated Mexican wild card Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez in the opening round and qualifier Jacopo Berrettini in the last 16.

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Etcheverry Tops Good Friend Cerundolo For Biggest Career Win In Santiago

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2023

Etcheverry Tops Good Friend Cerundolo For Biggest Career Win In Santiago

Baez, Djere, Lajovic also advance to quarter-finals

Tomas Martin Etcheverry played one of the best matches of his career to defeat fellow Argentine Francisco Cerundolo on Thursday at the Movistar Chile Open. The 23-year-old earned a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory on his fifth match point in Santiago to reach his second ATP Tour quarter-final.

Fuelled by a strong serving day and aggressive hitting off his forehand wing, Etcheverry scored the second Top 50 win of his career by beating the World No. 32. The good friends shared a warm embrace at the net following the match.

“Francisco is one of my best friends on the ATP and in life,” Etcheverry said after his two-hour, 28-minute victory. “It was an incredible match for me. I think I started with pressure because it’s hard to play with a friend. We know each other a lot. I made the difference in the first set when I got the break, and the same in the last set.”

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Both of Etcheverry’s quarter-final runs have come this season; he also reached the last eight in Buenos Aires two week ago. After recording three tour-level wins in 2022, he has already notched five this season, including his Santiago first-round win against Fabio Fognini.

Next up for the Argentine is Dusan Lajovic, who defeated Francisco’s brother Juan Manuel Cerundolo 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) earlier in the day. In a dramatic conclusion to that match, Lajovic saved two break points at 4-4 in the third set, then missed out on a match point at 5-4 before losing serve to fall behind 5-6. The Serbian was able to break back to force a tie-break, in which he won all five of his return points to secure victory.

After Etcheverry edged Cerundolo, he was expecting another difficult test against the 32-year-old Lajovic: “Always here on the ATP Tour, all the matches are really tough,” he said, looking ahead to the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting.

Also on Thursday, third seed Sebastian Baez and sixth seed Laslo Djere advanced to set a Friday quarter-final meeting. Argentina’s Baez, a returning finalist, knocked off home favourite Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3 to close the day’s play after Djere scored a 7-5, 7-5 win against Riccardo Bonadio in early action.

Baez and Djere are the lone seeded players remaining in the ATP 250 singles draw.

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