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Schooled In Adversity, Djere Ready For Djokovic Battle

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

Schooled In Adversity, Djere Ready For Djokovic Battle

Pair will meet in the third round of the US Open

When Laslo Djere walks on the court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday for his third-round US Open match against Novak Djokovic, he will face one of the biggest challenges in all of sports.

Djokovic has won more major titles — 23 — than any man in tennis history and the 36-year-old has not lost before the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament since 2016. But any challenge he faces on court is incomparable to the obstacles he has overcome off it.

By the age of 23, Djere had lost his mother, Hajnalka and father, Caba, to cancer. Since then, he has persevered and played the best tennis of his life. Continuing to push forward, he has earned opportunities to show his talent on the world’s biggest stages, just like he will against Djokovic.

“I don’t want to go too sentimental or sound smart. Everybody has ups and downs and tough moments in life, but I think that’s how life is,” Djere told “Some are less fortunate than others. Some are more fortunate. Every person has their own story I’m sure.

“It’s important that you believe in your goals, your vision, yourself and you don’t let things or some other factors that you can’t control — or even sometimes you can, but didn’t go your way — affect you on your road to that goal… Just keep going no matter what.”

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As a countryman of Djokovic, Djere is well aware of what the three-time US Open champion is capable of. But he is not dwelling too much on who will be standing across the net.

“I will try and just prepare as for any other match. I think that’s the key and not to be stressed about who will be my next opponent, the guy who is probably the best of all time,” Djere said. “I will really just try to approach it as every other match, as the third round of the US Open. My goal is to go out on the court and fight for every point and play my best tennis. I think that will be the key against Novak.”

Djere does not remember the first time he met Djokovic, remembering seeing him in Grand Slam tournament locker rooms when he was a junior. But the first time they spent a significant amount of time together was in Dubai in 2015, when Djokovic invited him to play doubles together. At the time, Djere was outside the Top 250 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“I was very happy. It was a great opportunity. We did a few practice sessions, played the doubles. I also got a glance how does it look on the Tour at an ATP 500, which was altogether a really nice and useful experience for my future career,” Djere said. “I saw where I wanted to be and it also gave me some motivation to keep working hard and reach that level one day, which thankfully, I eventually reached.”

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Djere has spent plenty of time with Djokovic over the years. From competing alongside one another in Davis Cup to sharing training sessions together, they have gotten to know one another well.

“In practices, the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed. He’ll feel more free to try some things that you maybe wouldn’t dare to try in a match,” Djere said. “But I mean, his focus and the intensity is pretty much the same in practice as it is in a match, and that’s something I am also trying to do.”

Last year in Belgrade, they met in singles action for the first time. Then the World No. 1, Djokovic needed to draw on all of his experience to win 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) after three hours and 22 minutes.

“Obviously he wasn’t in his best form back then. But again, I proved to myself that I can play with him and many other times also when I played Top 10 guys that I can play with those guys,” Djere said. “For sure they are on a different level, especially Novak. But I think I can have a good match with him. And he’s playing now much better than back then. So I will not rely too much on that experience last year. I will just try to focus on this match.”

Djokovic is well aware of what Djere is capable of. The 28-year-old won an ATP 500 title at Rio de Janeiro in 2019, dedicating the victory to his parents. He has climbed as high as No. 27 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and earned three Top 10 wins.

“He did have a lot of struggles with his family and private issues, had to endure all of that. So it says a lot about his mental resilience,” Djokovic said. “He’s, as I said, a very nice guy, very humble. Just very quiet. Just goes about his things, works as hard as anybody and tries his best.

“He’s really dedicated to the game. I really like him as a person and as a player, as well.”

Djere has played some of his best tennis in recent months. In Hamburg, he reached his second ATP 500 final before making the semi-finals in Kitzbuhel.

“The good game is the result of many, many hours of practice. And it’s hard work. And sometimes you also need a little bit of luck, a little bit of a push,” Djere said. “Now, I’m feeling great. I feel confident I am showing good tennis in the last couple of months. And obviously, when you have confidence, things tend to go much easier on the court.”

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How Americans Fritz, Paul & Tiafoe Could Make Big Live Race Moves

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

How Americans Fritz, Paul & Tiafoe Could Make Big Live Race Moves

Zverev, De Minaur also have opportunity in New York

Following early upsets at the US Open, three Americans — Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe — have a big opportunity to make a move in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

Fritz reached the semi-finals at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, while his countrymen have an opportunity to move into qualifying position with a big run at the season’s final major.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin

 Player  Points
 5) Stefanos Tsitsipas  3,570*
 6) Andrey Rublev  3,325
 7) Holger Rune  3,055*
 8) Taylor Fritz   2,740
 9) Alexander Zverev  2,715
 10) Casper Ruud  2,625*
 11) Alex de Minaur  2,370
 12) Tommy Paul  2,345
 13) Frances Tiafoe  1,940

*Eliminated from US Open 
With early exits by fifth-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas and seventh-placed Holger Rune, eighth-placed Fritz has a big chance to consolidate his standing. Into the third round at Flushing Meadows, the American currently has 2,740 points. Another win would put him at 2,830 points and a run to the quarter-finals would give him 3,010 points, moving him within 45 points of Rune.

Fritz will play Jakub Mensik on the Czech’s 18th birthday Friday and if he wins, would not face a seeded opponent in the fourth round. Second seed Novak Djokovic is his projected quarter-final opponent.

Two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev is in ninth place, just 35 points behind Fritz, putting him in a similar position to the American. The German has reached the semi-finals and final in his past two US Open appearances.

When 10th-placed Casper Ruud lost on Wednesday evening, that opened the door for players behind him to surge, particularly those on the bottom half of the draw.

Twelfth-placed Tommy Paul and 13th-placed Frances Tiafoe are the highest-ranked players in their quarter of the draw and could meet in the quarter-finals. A semi-final yields a player 720 points at Grand Slam tournaments. Such a gain would put either man firmly in Turin contention.

Alex de Minaur, who is in the top half of the draw, is in 11th place in the Live Race. Like Paul and Tiafoe, the recent Toronto finalist is also trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Did You Know?
Two players have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals: Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard is set to compete at the season finale for the first time after withdrawing last year due to injury, while the Serbian will try to successfully defend his 2022 title at the Pala Alpitour.

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Red-Hot Baez On ‘Healthy Competition’ Among ATP Tour Argentines

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

Red-Hot Baez On ‘Healthy Competition’ Among ATP Tour Argentines

22-year-old defeated Coric in first round at US Open

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

Argentina currently boasts seven players in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with three of them in the Top 35. That high-flying trio are Francisco Cerundolo, Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

All are members of the same generation at 25, 22 and 24 years of age respectively. This is something of a blessing; they drive each other to improve as they aim to take their country to the pinnacle of the sport and create an exciting brood of young players.

“I’m happy when my peers do well,” said Baez after coming through the first round at the US Open, where he saw off 27th seed Borna Coric. “It’s always motivating, and I think it’s mutual. When one does well, the other feels like it could happen to him too. That healthy competition is very good. It’s really good feedback. I always wish everyone the best, even more so when I’ve been around them since I was 12.

“Each of us is concentrating on our own thing, [but] when one of us does well, we congratulate each other. We’re happy that the other is doing well.”

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Despite that camaraderie, Baez acknowledges that each of them takes their own path with their team during competition. It is difficult to coincide at home, making it hard to maintain a closer friendship.

“The Tour is very competitive,” said the Argentine. “Sometimes we’re not even all in Buenos Aires at the same time – it’s impossible. Apart from that, in our daily lives, we have a good relationship. It’s been like that for years.”

At this moment, Baez’s mind is on his second-round clash in New York against Felipe Meligeni Alves. The No. 32 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Baez is one of the form players on Tour after claiming back-to-back titles in Kitzbühel and Winston-Salem. Yet he is not resting on his laurels.

“I always have to work hard because I can’t take anything for granted”, explained Baez. “I’m happy with my current form. I’m feeling confident, but I’m taking it match by match. It happened to me in Kitzbühel, and in Winston-Salem, and also here. I’m thinking about the next match I have to play, about doing as well as possible, and about being connected to my people.”

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Baez has now won 11 matches on the trot. The Argentine is undefeated since Hamburg, when he bowed out in the first round to Casper Ruud, the top seed at the German ATP 500 event. Since then, it has been a familiar story; win, win and win again.

The roots of Baez’s rich form stem back to Roland Garros. There, Baez was sent packing in the first round by Gael Monfils after he had held a 4-0 lead in the fifth set. It was a heavy blow for the 22-year-old, who lost sleep over the defeat after letting slip a golden opportunity to beat the Frenchman on his home turf. He had been powerless as his opponent clawed his way back before delivering his knock-out punch.

Never one to back down, the Argentine resorted to the method that has always given him results, the mantra that helped him win six ATP Challenger titles in 2021, his year of transition into the ATP Tour. Now, as he looks to earn himself a place among the cream of the crop, Baez is sticking to the same old formula; if you fall down, you get up stronger.

The recipe for success of a hungry tennis player.

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Djokovic On ‘Warrior’ Swiatek & Gauff’s US Open Hopes

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

Djokovic On ‘Warrior’ Swiatek & Gauff’s US Open Hopes

Serbian praises WTA stars after his second-round win in New York

Novak Djokovic is well aware of the guts, determination and mental resilience required to secure Grand Slam glory.

Those are qualities the 23-time major champion sees in Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff. His own on-court positivity was praised by both WTA stars Wednesday at the US Open, and Djokovic then took the chance to reflect on Swiatek and Gauff’s respective strengths after his second-round victory against Bernabe Zapata Miralles in New York.

“Iga has been dominating the women’s game last couple of years, she is a multiple Grand Slam winner. I love her devotion and dedication,” said Djokovic of WTA No. 1 Swiatek, who won her maiden US Open crown in 2022. “Maybe she’s too humble to say, too modest to say, but she’s got a great fighting spirit, no doubt. She’s a warrior, goes out there and doesn’t give a single game.

“She has probably the most bagels of anyone in women’s tennis the last few years. It speaks about how seriously and professionally she’s taking every single point and game on the court. So that’s very admirable. I really like that kind of champion spirit and mindset.”

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The 19-year-old Gauff is chasing her maiden major title this fortnight in New York, where this year she arrived fresh from lifting the biggest single’s title of her career in Cincinnati.

“Coco is on the rise,” said Djokovic. “She’s yet to win a Grand Slam, but played in a final [at Roland Garros in 2022]. She’s still young, but now Brad Gilbert is on her side with the great experience of coaching some of the greats. I think things are coming together for her.

“She played really good tennis in Cincinnati and also she’s been playing well here. She’s got the home support, of course, which is always welcome and needed. Physically she seems to be very fit. She’s striking the ball very well.”

Djokovic may not have experienced the pressures of competing as an American at the US Open, but he understands the stages that young players go through as they seek their best level. As with all young talents on the ATP Tour and WTA Tour, he feels patience is key, although he cited Gauff’s recent performances as evidence the American may be ready to take another step up.

“She broke to the kind of top of the women’s game quite early. Some years ago I think she was like 16, 17, when she played fourth round of Wimbledon,” said Djokovic. “It still takes some time, a few years for things to come together where you feel that you are complete as a player, that you are ready to win Slams and dominate the game. I think she is coming very close to that stage and that level. I’m sure that she has very high hopes for the US Open and she should, because she’s playing really well.”

Djokovic’s next assignment in New York is a third-round clash with another player renowned for his mental resilience — his fellow Serbian Laslo Djere.

“He’s one of the hardest workers on the Tour,” said Djokovic of Djere. “We follow each other, not just me and him, but players in the locker rooms, in the gym, the amount of hours that one player puts or the other player puts in his time on the court. He’s definitely one of the hardest workers out there. Puts a lot of hours into care for his body and trying to build his form.

“Eventually the results will come for a player like him because he’s very, very dedicated and very nice guy. Very quiet. Just works hard and is a big fighter. He does his best.”

The three-time US Open champion Djokovic will step on court in confident mood, however. He has made a rapid start to his latest campaign at Flushing Meadows, dropping just 11 games across his opening two matches, and hopes to maintain that form against the World No. 38 Djere.

“I’m pleased with the way I’m feeling, playing on the court,” said Djokovic. “It can always be better, but in the first two rounds I didn’t spend too much time on the court and played very solid. Hopefully I can keep building.”

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Zhang Makes History With Ruud Upset

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

Zhang Makes History With Ruud Upset

The 26-year-old will next meet Hijikata

Zhang Zhizhen earned the biggest win of his career Wednesday when he outlasted World No. 5 Casper Ruud in five sets at the US Open.

The Chinese star survived a thrilling back-and-forth encounter, upsetting last year’s finalist Ruud 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 after three hours, 18 minutes. Zhang delivered an inspired performance, striking 59 winners to become the first Chinese man to earn a Top 5 win since the beginning of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (1973). 

The World No. 67, who also needed five sets to get past J.J. Wolf in the opening round, will next face Australian Rinky Hijikata in the third round.

Zhang advances to the third round of a major for the second time in his career, with the other appearance coming this year at Roland Garros, where he lost to Ruud in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head Meeting.

The 26-year-old’s revenge match on the fifth seed is a welcome sight to Zhang after last year’s heartbreak at Flushing Meadows. He let slip seven match points in the first round before falling to Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven in five.

“Last year at the US Open, I can say it was a bad memory. But this year is a little bit different,” said Zhang.

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Should Zhang reach the fourth round, he will have a chance to become the first Chinese male to crack the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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Paul Earns First Two-Set Comeback At US Open

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2023

Paul Earns First Two-Set Comeback At US Open

American will next play 21st seed Davidovich Fokina

Tommy Paul accomplished something he had never done before on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows.

The 14th seed rallied from two sets down for the first time, surging past Roman Safiullin 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 12 minutes to reach the third round of the US Open for the second consecutive year.

“It was so much fun. I didn’t really give them too much to cheer for the first two sets. I know I could feel it. Everyone was getting a little frustrated. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to give people something to cheer about,” Paul said. “After the second, I knew… it wasn’t a highlight reel kind of day. I was like, ‘I’ll give them something to cheer about with just extending points and heart for the rest of the match.’

“I think that’s really what got me through, along with everyone there was really cheering for me.”

Entering the season’s final major in 2022, Paul was 0-4 at the tournament. But he has now won four matches in New York over the past two editions. Against Safiullin he won just one more point (130-129), but his 43 winners were enough to move on.

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Four of the American’s five US Open matches since the start of last year’s tournament have gone to five sets. He has already played a five-setter this year against his next opponent, 21st seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Spaniard maintained his good form with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 triumph against Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Davidovich Fokina recently made an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Toronto.

Paul leads the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series 2-0, with both of those wins coming on hard courts this year, in Melbourne and Miami.

“We had two battles, one in Australia and one in Miami,” Davidovich Fokina said. “He’s like a runner. He likes a marathon. He’s a very good guy outside the court. I’m joking with him inside. On court he’s like a beast because he’s very good.”

Did You Know?
Paul is in 12th place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The American is trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

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