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Dominant Djokovic's Jaw-Dropping Major SF Statistics

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Dominant Djokovic’s Jaw-Dropping Major SF Statistics

Serbian has won 21 of his past 22 major semis

Advancing to a major semi-final is great. Facing Novak Djokovic when you get there, however, is not ideal.

Of all Djokovic’s accomplishments in recent years, one of the most unfathomable might be his record in the semi-finals of Grand Slam tournaments. That is bad news for his next opponent, Ben Shelton.

Djokovic has won 21 of his past 22 major semi-finals dating back to the 2015 Australian Open. His only loss during that stretch came in 2019 at Roland Garros, where Dominic Thiem needed five sets over four hours and 13 minutes to eliminate the Serbian.

Nine of the players Djokovic has defeated in major semi-finals have been inside the Top 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Ten of his victories during the stretch have come in straight sets.

By defeating Taylor Fritz in the US Open quarter-finals, he advanced to a record 47th major semi-final. In his previous 46 appearances this deep at a Grand Slam event, Djokovic has tallied a 35-11 record (76.1%).

Most Major SFs

 Player  Record  Winning %
 Novak Djokovic  35-11*  76.1%
 Roger Federer  31-15  67.4%
 Rafael Nadal  30-8  78.9%
 Jimmy Connors  15-16  48.4%
 Ivan Lendl  19-9  67.9%

*Plays record 47th major semi-final Friday
According to Infosys ATP Stats, only 12 players on record have a 76 per cent or better winning percentage that high in all matches, let alone major quarter-finals. Of Djokovic’s 11 losses, eight have come against Roger Federer (4) or Rafael Nadal (4).

His opponent on Friday, Shelton, has one of the biggest serves on the ATP Tour. But pushing sets to tie-breaks at this stage of a Slam has statistically not worked out for Djokovic’s opponents over the past decade.

The 36-year-old has not lost a tie-break in a major semi-final since the 2014 US Open, where he lost to Kei Nishikori. In the seven tie-breaks Djokovic has played in major semi-finals since, he has lost a combined 24 points, or just more than three points per tie-break. That includes nine points he lost in a single tie-break against Nadal at Wimbledon in 2018.

Djokovic has lost just twice in the last four of Grand Slam events against first-time major semi-finalists — his defeat to Nishikori at Flushing Meadows nine years ago and the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finals to Tomas Berdych.

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Why Is Alcaraz Skipping Practice At US Open?

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Why Is Alcaraz Skipping Practice At US Open?

Spaniard opted not to practise on his day off

Not setting foot on court to train on a rest day at a Grand Slam might seem unwise, but it is one of the routines that works best for Carlos Alcaraz, and one of the keys to many of his triumphs.

The Spaniard will play on Wednesday in the quarter-finals of the US Open against Alexander Zverev without having practised on Tuesday. He used the same routine before playing his fourth-round clash with Matteo Arnaldi, and it is one he has employed at many events throughout his career.

“There are days when I dedicate my time to fitness and not tennis,” explained the Spaniard, who has a 15-1 record in the season’s final Grand Slam, where he is defending the title he claimed in 2022, his first major and the key that opened the door for him to become the youngest No. 1 ever in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “There are a lot of days when I prefer to work on load training and fitness, rather than practise tennis.”

Not practising on a rest day at a tournament is not something Alcaraz is trying for the first time at this US Open, far from it. Last year, at Flushing Meadows, the Spaniard chose not to pick up his racquet the day between matches. It was a roadmap that allowed him to come through the demands of three consecutive five-set matches unscathed; the fourth round against Marin Cilic, the quarter-finals against Jannik Sinner and the semi-finals against Frances Tiafoe. This year, at Roland Garros, he did not practise a single time between matches, nor did he at Wimbledon as the final rounds approached (before his semi-final and final).

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“Mentally, getting tired of winning, of travelling to play tennis, I’m not worried about that because I know it won’t happen to me. What really worries me, so to speak, or what might be a concern for me in the future, is injuries,” explained Alcaraz, all too aware of what he has to do to stay fit in the face of the demands of playing at the very top of the game.

“I haven’t been training on the days I haven’t played and it’s worked well,” he said a few months back in Paris, during Roland Garros. “I’m doing things very well and I feel good. Mentally, I’m fresh. Why change things if it’s working?”

It is certainly unusual; most players will practise tirelessly on their days off in a bid to fine-tune their games and not lose their touch. But Alcaraz has proven that it is possible to aspire to everything by taking a day off when he has no matches, because sometimes resting is also training. This is the message drilled into him by Juan Carlos Ferrero, his coach, and Juanjo Moreno, his physio and the man responsible for looking after Alcaraz’s body.

Not practising at Flushing Meadows does not mean having a free day, of course. As well as working in the gym at his hotel, and receiving treatment on the recovery stretcher, Alcaraz takes the opportunity to spend time with his family and team in New York. For example, on Sunday he took the chance to wander the streets of Brooklyn, while on other days he has visited Central Park to have some contact with nature and get away from the hubbub of Manhattan.

Alcaraz needed eight hours and 36 minutes of tennis to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open, dropping just one set along the way to Daniel Evans. He trails Zverev, his next opponent, 2-3 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head.

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Can Rublev Reach His First Major Semi-Final At US Open?

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Can Rublev Reach His First Major Semi-Final At US Open?

World No. 8 meets Medvedev on Wednesday

Andrey Rublev will face a monumental challenge on Wednesday when he takes to the court to do battle with Daniil Medvedev in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings has never progressed past the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam, despite having reached the round eight times in his career prior to Wednesday.

“Of course, he hasn’t got past it, but it’s much worse to lose in the last 16 and not have that opportunity again,” Fernando Vicente, Rublev’s coach, told “We see it as a positive, not a negative. We see it as another opportunity to try and do it. If it doesn’t happen, we will have to keep trying and keep working.”

He has set foot in the quarters in all of the Grand Slams: at the Australian Open (2021, 2023), Roland Garros (2020, 2022), Wimbledon (2023) and the US Open (2017, 2020, 2022, 2023).

In those matches, in search of a debut major semi-final, Rublev has faced Medvedev three times (including this Wednesday), Novak Djokovic twice and Rafael Nadal once, as well as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Frances Tiafoe and Marin Cilic. However, he has never been able to celebrate and progress to the semi-finals.

“The vast majority of times, six at least, he wasn’t ready, physically or mentally,” said Vicente. “The Cilic one at Roland Garros was a clear opportunity and he should have won, but he lost it in five sets and wasn’t able to manage the mental side of it. Now he is ready, both physically and mentally, but it will be a tricky game; they’re friends and it’s difficult for them to play each other.”

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Rublev reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the age of 17. This time around, he is 25, and he has plenty more experience and maturity. So far, the World No. 8 has won 14 tour-level titles, including the biggest of his career this year at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Now, before another big match, there is no doubt what his mentality and approach to this new challenge will be: it is positive to be back in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.

“I don’t see it as negative, it’s positive being in the quarters,” commented Vicente. “If he doesn’t win, we’ll have to try again a 10th time, an 11th… a 22nd. We are delighted to be in the quarters of a Grand Slam again.”

Medvedev leads their Lexus ATP Head2Head 5-2, but Rublev has already taken down his friend on the big stage; last year in the group stage of the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Shelton Semi-final Bound After Upsetting Tiafoe

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Shelton Semi-final Bound After Upsetting Tiafoe

#NextGenATP star reaches first major semi-final, cracks Top 20 of Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings

Ben Shelton has become the youngest American US Open semi-finalist in 30 years after recovering from a near catastrophe in the third-set tie-break to upset 10th-seeded countryman Frances Tiafoe Tuesday night at Flushing Meadows.

Twelve months on from a first-round loss at the Open as the World No. 165, 20-year-old Shelton tonight cracked the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings for the first time and moved to within one match of reaching his first Grand Slam final in just his fifth appearance at the majors following his 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 victory.

“I felt like I left it all out here tonight. It was an emotional battle,” Shelton said on court after the match.

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But standing in his way is Novak Djokovic, who will be lacing up for a record-breaking 47th major semi-final as he continues his quest for a 10th final and fourth title at the US Open, where he hopes to build on his record haul of 23 Grand Slam titles.

Much talk had been made of the 2022 NCAA singles champion’s overpowering serve coming into match but his return of serve proved equally as influential, especially during a rollercoaster third set that began with six service breaks in the first eight games.

When the set entered the tie-break, Shelton had two set points at 6/4 but soon after at 6/5 he served consecutive double faults to present Tiafoe with a set point of his own. In response, Shelton thundered a second-serve forehand return down the line into the very corner of the court for a clean winner and two points later he clinched the set.

“Sometimes you have to shut off the brain, close the eyes and just swing,” Shelton said of not folding in the tie-break after the double-fault disaster. “Maybe there was a little bit of that down set point, but it ended up working out.”

Shelton’s raw power came to the fore in the first game of the fourth set, when he clocked three clean winners from deep behind the baseline to break Tiafoe for the sixth time. 

Shelton energised the crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium with frequent lung-busting roars to his box, while Tiafoe, known as one of the game’s most entertaining showmen, cut a more reserved figure throughout, perhaps reflecting the pressure of being the favourite against his younger countryman and defending the semi-final points he earned last year.

Despite being broken four times, Shelton came up clutch when it mattered most in the fourth set, dropping just four points on his serve. For the match he clipped 50 winners to Tiafoe’s 33.

Shelton fired 14 aces and took big cuts on his forehand from both deep behind the baseline and when he stepped into the court, hitting a string of winners both down the line and cross court.

Shelton, who now sits at No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, had his Grand Slam breakout at the Australian Open in January when he reached the quarter-finals in his first journey outside the United States. But he failed to back that up through the early and mid-part of the season, not claiming consecutive victories until arriving at Flushing Meadows.

Tiafoe, who has slipped to No. 11 in the Live Race, had dropped just one set en route to his third major quarter-final and had won 19 consecutive matches against left-handers, a streak that included his fourth-round win over Rafael Nadal in New York last year.

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Medvedev vs. Rublev: Friends Turn Foes For A Night At US Open

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Medvedev vs. Rublev: Friends Turn Foes For A Night At US Open

Inside one of the closest friendships on the ATP Tour

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are more than just opponents. They are like family.

But that does not matter when they are standing across the net. One player wins, the other loses. There is no in between. The athletes both want the same thing, but only one can earn it. That will be no different when Medvedev and Rublev clash inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for a place in the US Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

The two men are fierce competitors. But a certain result or scoreline will not change the fact that Rublev is the godfather of Medvedev’s 11-month-old daughter.

“I think we’re really close friends. I think we have a great relationship even if on the court we’re big competitors,” Medvedev said. “I think nothing is going to, let’s call it, come between us to separate us in real life. We’re really close.”

Nearly two decades ago, Medvedev and Rublev were like any pair of juniors competing. They would pull out every trick in the book. They would lob one another from the baseline to try to win. The player losing would often whine, even cry. The other would do everything to keep it that way. What kid likes to lose, anyway?

“Both of us were crazy on court. Destroying the racquets, complaining,” Rublev said at the 2020 US Open. “What I remember from him, he was always one of the biggest fighters that I ever saw in my life since he was, I don’t know, seven years old. He could play lobs maybe for hours just to win. I don’t know. I remember we had a few battles when we were completely kids.”

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According to Medvedev, he did not have the strength and weapons in his game as a junior to finish points.

“I was always on practice trying to play aggressive, maybe going to the net and stuff like this. Then there was a match going, I started to do it, I’m losing 3-0, the match is up to four, the set. I’m like, ‘No, back to lobs’,” Medvedev recalled in 2020. “I always hated to lose. Maybe even the better mentality for a kid would be to try to stick to his game plan or something like this. At the same time it’s always good when you want to win also.”

As Medvedev and Rublev grew older and began to advance through the pro ranks, their relationship developed, too. Being a fly on the wall when they banter back and forth would be like a front-row seat to a comedy show.

“Andrey gets really, really angry if you call him Jannik because he looks like Jannik Sinner a little bit,” Medvedev said during the break in play during the Covid-19 pandemic. “During this Australian Open he comes into the locker room and I said, ‘Hi Jannik, how are you?’ He got angry, he [went] away for 10 minutes, came back 10 minutes later, and goes, ‘You are Davydenko then!'”

<a href=Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev at practice together in Monte-Carlo.” />
Medvedev and Rublev at practice in Monte-Carlo. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
When together, Medvedev and Rublev are always having fun. Sometimes, they are on the same side of that fun. Other times, it is at the other’s expense. But that camaraderie has expanded beyond friendship. Rublev is the godfather of Medvedev’s first child, who was born last October.

“He’s very kind,” Medvedev said of Rublev. “He’s religious, so that’s important to be a godfather. So it was kind of an easy decision.”

“Obviously we built our relationship because of tennis,” Rublev said. “But now it’s already bigger than tennis. We know each other, I don’t know, since we were six maybe or something.

“We have a great relationship. He’s super honest, super relaxed. It’s super easy to communicate with him. Very humble. At the same time he’s really, really funny. Then when you spend time with him, you always have fun.”

But on Wednesday, that relationship will not prevent the stars from doing everything in their power to reach the US Open semi-finals. Medvedev takes a 5-2 Lexus ATP Head2Head series lead into the clash, as well as an edge in big-match experience.

The 27-year-old won the 2021 US Open and is 6-1 in major quarter-finals. What might be surprising is that Rublev has actually been to the quarter-finals at Grand Slam tournaments more often — eight times — but has lost them all. When Medvedev has been able to buckle down in the highest-pressure moments and rely on his pesky baseline game, Rublev has struggled to avoid spiraling out of control with unforced errors.

But the 25-year-old has won two of their past three meetings and will try to secure the biggest breakthrough of his career after earlier this season claiming his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo. As close as Medvedev and Rublev are, that will not matter inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s great to have someone like this on tour because sometimes it can be not easy. You travel, travel, travel. To have a friend like this is great. Not much more to add,” Medvedev said. “But again, on the court we both want to win. We are not going to be friends in two days.”

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Espresso, Jolly Ranchers & 5 A.M. Walks: Brad Gilbert's US Open

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2023

Espresso, Jolly Ranchers & 5 A.M. Walks: Brad Gilbert’s US Open

Go behind the scenes with the coach and commentator

There is a case to be made that Brad Gilbert is the busiest man at the US Open, and the former World No. 4 would have it no other way.

From the late hours of Monday evening until the early hours of Tuesday morning, Gilbert sat courtside in Arthur Ashe Stadium to call the fourth-round match between Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner for ESPN. He interviewed the winner, Zverev, on court before heading back to his hotel in Queens.

“Last night I got back at let’s say 2:25. And I was up at like, 5:15, probably went to sleep at 3:30. I’ve had probably the least sleep here,” Gilbert told “Actually, I was out cold yesterday about 5 p.m. and I got to sleep for about 30 minutes… Then somebody comes, wakes me up, got to go do a hit in the studio. So I get like 30 minutes sometimes during the day.”

Most people on Gilbert’s schedule would be exhausted this deep into the tournament. But the Californian is as fired up as ever.

“I’ve been on every late match. I’m on last tonight again, but it’s okay. There’s nothing better than sitting out there watching something like what happened last night,” Gilbert said. “Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a match like last night. That kind of reminds me of a Rocky Balboa movie.

“I’ve never seen both guys at the same time be dead, out of gas. And then Sinner finally started to look a little better. And then Zverev got one more push. But Zverev looked gone in the fifth, yet he was still serving unbelievably. It was literally a Herculean effort, especially for Sinner, who looked completely out of sorts in the second set.”

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Gilbert has been coming to the US Open every year since 1981 and has no plans of breaking that streak any time soon. But this year for the first time the American has combined his commentating with coaching in the same year. Earlier this North American summer Gilbert began working with WTA star Coco Gauff, who on Tuesday advanced to the semi-finals.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done that. So I’ve done all the evening matches,” Gilbert said. “So I’ll be working in the studio doing stuff, then I’ll be working at seven o’clock a little bit, then I get to scout, then I’m courtside for the second match tonight. So they put me to work.”

For the most part, he has not missed any aspect of either role. The only exception has been during qualifying week or missing something on the day of a doubles match. But especially on singles match days, Gilbert has been totally locked in with Gauff.

The former coach of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick among others, Gilbert is notorious for going on early-morning walks. This US Open has been no exception and after his late night at Flushing Meadows, he walked from 5:15 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. listening to some of his favourite old-school rock music.

“This morning I had a lot of Tom Petty, a little Crowded House, a little Grateful Dead, a little Eagles,” Gilbert said.

How does he stay awake? The 20-time ATP Tour titlist travels with an espresso machine.

“I used to drink a lot more [coffee], especially when I played. Usually I power up with two double espressos in the morning and then usually that’s it,” Gilbert said. “But probably now at like six o’clock or 6:30 before I’ve got to scout the first match and then I’ll be courtside the second one, so I’ll probably have another one at like 6:30, seven o’clock.

“Even when I played in the 80s, I always travelled with my own coffee, like a French press or even at 20 when I went on my first trip to Asia because I wake up early and you might not be able to get coffee. So I always travel with coffee and a way to make it.”

Gauff in a press conference earlier in the tournament revealed Gilbert has given her Jolly Ranchers, which she has not eaten. According to the coach, he used to travel with 500 Jolly Ranchers for a trip. Now ESPN has Jolly Ranchers and an espresso machine on site for him.

“My daughter actually has some healthier ones at home. But when I used to play, let’s say I’d go on an eight or 10-week trip, what happened to Zverev last night used to happen to me,” Gilbert said. “I needed a lot of shoes and you couldn’t get FedEx, you couldn’t get things. So let’s say I’m going on a six or seven-week trip to Asia, I might have to bring 15 pairs of shoes. I’d bring like 500 ranchers for a trip.”

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Most importantly, Gilbert loves watching tennis. Even though he is coaching Gauff, he is fully on top of everything going on in the tournament.

“I was thinking we were going to get the Sinner-Alcaraz and I was really looking forward to the rematch of that. But now you’ve got to wonder, a fresh Alcaraz versus 15 rounds for Zverev. Hopefully his team can put him back together. But obviously, advantage Alcaraz at the moment,” Gilbert said. “The crazy one tomorrow [is between Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev]. Rublev’s 0-8 in his career in the [major] quarters and he’s playing one of his best buddies and countrymen.

“Can he get off the schneid? Medvedev, I’ve done like three of his matches here and he’s been fighting himself and everything, fighting his box… but he’s still finding a way. So we’ve got some interesting matchups.”

Gilbert is not sleeping much these days, but as he always says, sleep is overrated.

“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing. I got to play. I got to coach. I got to commentate,” Gilbert said. “I almost feel like I still get to coach even when I wasn’t coaching, when I’m commentating. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than doing this run here at the Open.”

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