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The Magical Movement Of Novak Djokovic

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

The Magical Movement Of Novak Djokovic

Rusedski, Rune and Zverev provide insight

Novak Djokovic might be the only athlete on the planet compared to both Spiderman and a brick wall.

The Serbian star contorts his body to reach balls in impossible positions and often sends it to the other side of the court as if he never moved at all. Djokovic’s combination of speed, flexibility and anticipation make him a nightmare for opponents to deal with.

The six-time Nitto ATP Finals champion is 36, but he does not move like it said former World No. 4 Greg Rusedski.

“I think people take a lot for granted of Novak and his career just because of being around during Federer and Nadal’s era,” said Rusedski, who is in Turin commentating on the season finale for Amazon Prime. “I feel like Federer brought movement in tennis to one level and Djokovic has brought it to another level. And we’ve never seen a 36-year-old, at least in my generation or time I’ve been watching tennis, that has moved as well as Novak on a tennis court.”

It is not just experts who rave about Djokovic’s movement — his peers do, too. Holger Rune battled Djokovic for more than three hours on Sunday at the Pala Alpitour and in the aftermath of his loss, thought about his opponent’s game.

“For me he’s reading the game extremely well – better than anyone, I think. Also, I was reflecting a lot obviously on that match because it hurt to lose that one,” Rune told in a press conference. “I feel like against many players out there you can hit a great shot and you can be in a good position. Against him, you hit a great shot, it comes back deep.

“I think it’s not just his ball quality, it’s also how well he reads the game, to be able to hit shots like that. I think I did manage to make him uncomfortable also in his movement, but it’s definitely a hard thing to do. I think he’s really, really good at pushing himself, also.”

Photo Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Part of what allows Djokovic to push himself is the effort he puts into his body off the court. Fans often receive a small glimpse into the hard work he dedicates to his body. Particularly interesting is some of the stretches he does for flexibility. The Serbian lifts his leg atop a member of his team’s shoulder with ease, making it more understandable how he is able to slide on hard courts as easily as he does.

Two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev has played Djokovic 12 times since the start of 2017 and has taken a front-row seat to the 36-year-old’s extended dominance.

“I think he’s a player that takes care of his body the best out of everybody,” Zverev said. “I think he goes through his rituals pretty much every single day. He takes care of himself, and that’s his number one priority above everything else. I think he’s done extremely well doing that over the past few years.

“I think he’s 36 years old, but he looks like he’s 26, 27. He might be in even better shape than he was 10 years ago. It doesn’t really even seem that he looks like he’s going to stop.”

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Djokovic has redefined success for players of his age. In 2020, he became the oldest ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone in history (since 1973) aged 33. The Serbian has since achieved the feat twice more, including this year aged 36.

Rusedski compared Djokovic’s late-career success to that of NFL legend Tom Brady’s. The Briton pointed out that one big difference is that Brady never had to move as much as Djokovic.

“They’re fanatical about their diets, their nutrition, their training, and so forth,” Rusedski said. “What makes Novak so special, what makes it so incredible, tennis is all about movement. The Top 10 players in the world are always the fastest players on the planet.

“The only reason Roger is not playing anymore is because of his knees and the speed. He hits the ball just as well, and most of us who have been Top 10 in the world do [and there] are some great players. But if you can’t get there, and you’re slower, you’re half a step slow, you disappear very, very quickly at this level. So for him to do that consistently is quite incredible.”

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Djokovic might not be the most balletic player nor the absolute quickest. But for a 36-year-old, he is dominating the sport by moving like nobody else in the game.

“They look at the elegance of Federer. And Federer is aesthetically beautiful to watch, he’s like a ballerina,” Rusedski said. “But Djokovic’s movement, if you just cut the upper body off and just look from the waist down, the things he can do, there’s nobody in the business who does it better.

“Yes, Alcaraz might be faster at this stage, but he’s not as efficient. And efficiency of movement is the key with the speed and the combination and the control. And that’s what makes him so special.”

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Coach Vicente Breaks Down Rublev vs. Alcaraz Battle

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Coach Vicente Breaks Down Rublev vs. Alcaraz Battle

Rublev’s coach analyses the clash with the Spaniard

It promises to be a ferocious encounter. Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev, having lost their openers at the Nitto ATP Finals against Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev, respectively, will square off on Wednesday in a crucial match for their hopes to progress to the semi-finals of the season’s grand finale.

“Tomorrow is a new match,” Fernando Vicente, Rublev’s coach, told “I imagine both of them [Andrey and Carlos] will be thinking that they can win the next two matches, with desire and determination. As we all know, there is a round-robin format here, so everyone is still in it… We are hopeful we can win.”

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Despite the fact that they have shared practice sessions on the ATP Tour, Rublev and Alcaraz have never played each other — tomorrow will be their first Lexus ATP Head2Head match.

“They both play a different style of tennis,” explained Vicente. “In our case, I think Andrey has to play his own game, what he normally does. There isn’t much to say in that regard. He will have to dominate from the baseline and be aggressive, as he plays when he’s on form.

“We all know that Carlos has a lot of variety in his game, he can serve-volley, he can return-volley, he hits great drop shots… We’re already expecting all of that, we’re expecting a complicated, difficult match between two top players. We’ll have to see what happens mentally, how each of them is, but little else.”

Can the Pala Alpitour court in Turin benefit one player over the other?

“Andrey likes to have rallies,” said Vicente. “If you ask him, he’ll say he really likes to play on clay because that’s where he feels the best and where the many hours of work show. He likes feeling that they are playing long points,” he continued. “The court is fast. I think it really helps Andrey’s game because the ball is quick. With his flat style, it’s also difficult to cope with his pace a lot of the time. It’s not his favourite court, but we’ll see. Maybe we can say that perhaps it favours Andrey because of the type of court.”

Rublev may have another significant advantage: Unlike Alcaraz, who is playing in his first Nitto ATP Finals, the World No. 5 has played in the event three times already and he reached the semi-finals last year (l. to Casper Ruud). Does that help?

“On the one hand, I’d say it does, but also it doesn’t,” pondered his coach. “At the end of the day, experience shows in every match. There are people who reach three finals, or four, or five, but it doesn’t matter; if they don’t win any, it’s a double-edged sword.

“The fact that he has played more won’t be decisive. Carlos is an extraordinary player, he has played in Grand Slam finals, so I don’t think experience will be decisive in this case,” he insisted. “It will all be decided on their frames of mind, whoever is the bravest, and whoever does what has to be done. Every day is a new match.”

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Granollers/Zeballos Seal Nitto ATP Finals Semi-Final Spot

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Granollers/Zeballos Seal Nitto ATP Finals Semi-Final Spot

Duo upsets top seeds Dodig/Krajicek in Green Group

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos are the first confirmed semi-finalists at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals.

The Spanish-Argentine duo defeated top seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday evening in Turin to book their spot in the last four. They clinched a single break in each set to improve to 2-0 for the week at the Pala Alpitour and ensure their progress to the semi-finals at the prestigious season finale for the third time as a team (2020-21, 2023).

Granollers and Zeballos clinically converted both break points they earned to notch their 36th tour-level win of the year and improve to 6-7 as a team at the Nitto ATP Finals. Now 2-0 in Green Group, the fifth seeds are assured of a semi-final spot regardless of what happens in their third match against Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.

Dodig and Krajicek were not without their chances in the first tour-level meeting on a hard court between the two teams. They carved out four break points in the first set, but were unable to convert any as Granollers and Zeballos held firm at key moments throughout the 87-minute encounter.

The Croatian-American duo Dodig and Krajieck, who lead the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings with a 39-14 record, enter their final match against Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Friday with a 1-1 record for the week. The match will be a shootout for second place in the group, with Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin also 1-1 after they beat Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.

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Alcaraz, Rublev Eager To Make Most Of Second Chance In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Alcaraz, Rublev Eager To Make Most Of Second Chance In Turin

Medvedev, Zverev set for 18th Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting

The Red Group returns to the court on Wednesday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev will meet in the afternoon followed by an evening installment of the long-running Daniil Medvedev vs. Alexander Zverev rivalry.

It will be a maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting between Alcaraz and Rublev, who will both seek to bounce back from opening defeats in Turin. In contrast, familiar foes Medvedev and Zverev contest their 18th tour-level meeting, with the winner set to improve to 2-0 in the group stage.

[2] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. [5] Andrey Rublev

Making his debut at the Nitto ATP FInals, Alcaraz won the opening set against Zverev but the German ultimately prevailed 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4. It was the Spaniard’s third defeat in a row — but unlike after the previous two, he still has a chance to make amends in Turin.

“It’s the only tournament where a loss does not knock you out,” Alcaraz said on Monday. “I still have a chance to continue improving and to get through the group stage. Tomorrow I’ll practise to improve everything that I didn’t do well today, which is a lot.”

Specifically, Alcaraz was unhappy with his consistency in the quick conditions at the Pala Alpitour. Rublev looked right at home on the slick surface early in his matchup against Daniil Medvedev, but a few loose errors at key points — and seven break-point saves by the World No. 3 late in the opening set — shifted the match decisively in Medvedev’s favour.

“The feeling was that as soon as we had a rally, I was playing well and I had great chances,” Rublev said, before noting the crucial mistakes that cost him.

Before the tournament, Rublev compared the styles of Alcaraz and Medvedev: “If Alcaraz is killing you fast, and sometimes you don’t notice, Medvedev is killing you slowly,” he joked, referencing the third seed’s methodical game.

While Rublev has played Medvedev nine times, Monday’s matchup with Alcaraz will be the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting.

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[3] Daniil Medvedev vs. [7] Alexander Zverev (GER)

Zverev’s comeback win against Alcaraz was an upset according to their seeds, but Medvedev was not surprised by the result. 

“In the end it turned out to be a great fight and a great match. No surprises,” he said. “Sascha can play well also, serve well. It’s going to be interesting to play him for the 18th time.”

Medvedvev is more familiar with the German’s game than most: Of their 17 previous Lexus ATP Head2Head matches, five have come this season. Medvedev won four of them and leads the overall rivalry 10-7.

Their matchups have typically come on the ATP Tour’s biggest stages. They have met nine times at ATP Masters 1000s and four times at the Nitto ATP Finals — including twice in 2021, when Medvedev won in the group stage but Zverev gained revenge in the final. The German also won the Nitto ATP Finals crown in 2018, while Medvedev triumphed in 2020, beating Zverev in the group stage en route to the title.

With both players entering this high-stakes meeting at 1-0 in the Red Group, the winner here will take command in first place.

Defending Champs Ram/Salisbury Face Koolhof/Skupski Rematch

In last year’s Nitto ATP Finals doubles semis, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury defeated Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski on the way to the title. The teams were seeded second and first, respectively, last year and now meet again as the sixth and third seeds in Turin. Both made strong starts in their bids to return to the knockout rounds with opening wins on Monday.

Wednesday’s second doubles matchup will see third seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden face Aussie eighth seeds Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler. Both teams are seeking their first win of the tournament.

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Can India’s Cricket World Cup Charge Inspire Bopanna In Turin?

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Can India’s Cricket World Cup Charge Inspire Bopanna In Turin?

Doubles star is competing alongside Ebden in Red Group

Rohan Bopanna is preparing for one of the most significant matches of his season Wednesday at the Nitto ATP Finals. While he will be fully focused on his latest doubles clash alongside Matthew Ebden at Turin’s Pala Alpitour, he may also look for inspiration from some fellow Indian sportsmen more than 6,500 kilometres away.

At the same time as Bopanna and Ebden’s Red Group meeting with Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler, the Indian men’s national cricket team will be in action in Mumbai, where it takes on New Zealand in a World Cup semi-final. In a country where cricket is akin to a religion, it is a huge occasion, and one that Bopanna is all too aware of despite being so far away.

“I am following it, of course” Bopanna told when asked about the World Cup, where host nation India has won all nine of its matches so far. “I love cricket. Unfortunately, I have not been able to watch it, because Italy right now is not really showing the cricket, unless I try and find a stream online or something!

“I think the way India is playing this year, it’s really looking extremely good. I think, overall, [the whole team] is performing. It’s not just that one or two players are doing well. The bowlers, the batsmen, everybody is coming together as a team, and I think we’ve got some fantastic home support.”

<a href=Matthew Ebden/Rohan Bopanna” />

Matthew Ebden and Rohan Bopanna in action during their opening loss on Monday in Turin. Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

India’s cricket players are widely recognised figures at home. Star batsman Virat Kohli has one of the most-followed Instagram accounts in the world, with 263 million followers, and he is one of a handful of cricket stars with whom Bopanna shares a positive relationship.

“I’ve met [Kohli] a couple of times, and most of the cricket guys, apart from those who have just come in the team,” said Bopanna. “Even the guys who have retired, starting from [Rahul] Dravid and Sachin [Tendulkar], [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni, all these guys. Once they had a football match with some cricketers and other sportsmen mixed against some Bollywood celebrities, so it was fun. We got to meet everybody.

“Sachin also came to watch my match at Wimbledon this year, so it’s nice. We’re just a handful of sportsmen across the country who represent India at a global level, so I think everybody respects each other.”

As one of the leading lights of Indian tennis for more than two decades, Bopanna can certainly relate to the feeling of representing a nation of more than 1.4 billion people.

“I take it as a great positive energy, that you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for so many people out there,” said the 43-year-old Bopanna, who is the oldest competitor in Nitto ATP Finals history. “It’s a great opportunity to inspire so many people [at this] juncture of their lives.

“It doesn’t have to be young kids. To be honest, this year, the amount of people above 40, who have reached out to me, who are not just playing tennis, and just said they’ve been inspired with this journey of these last 10 months. Its brought them a new aspect in terms of energy and doing some stuff and really believing themselves.”

Sachin Tendulkar/Virat Kohli

Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kolhi sat together at Wimbledon in 2015. Photo Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bopanna, who reached his career-high of No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings in 2013, is a two-time finalist at the Nitto ATP Finals, having reached that stage in 2012 (w/Mahesh Bhupathi) and 2015 (w/Florin Mergea) when the event was held in London. Now competing for the fourth time at the prestigious season finale, he is delighted to be carrying the hopes of his nation for the first time in Turin.

“2015 is the last time there was Indian representation [at the Nitto ATP Finals],” he said. “After that there hasn’t been someone for such a long time. I take it as a great challenge. I think similarly the cricketers do as well. Everybody feels the pressure, but I think it’s beautiful just to take that energy, because that support is nothing like anything you can witness anywhere else.”

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Tsitsipas 'Really Gutted' About Back Injury, Withdraws From Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Tsitsipas ‘Really Gutted’ About Back Injury, Withdraws From Nitto ATP Finals

Greek reflects on physical struggles in Turin

Stefanos Tsitsipas apologised to the fans during his press conference on Tuesday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he retired three games into his match with Holger Rune due to a back injury. The Greek has withdrawn from the season finale and will be replaced in Green Group by Hubert Hurkacz.

“My apologies to all the fans and the crowd that came to support me today and watch the match. I’m really gutted that I wasn’t able to finish the match. It’s a shame also not to give that spot to someone else to at least try and do something with it,” Tsitsipas said. “My doctors and the countless visits that I had in the past few days suggested that I play, gave me the green light to go and try it for myself.

“Unfortunately, I felt terrible on the court. I did what I could do in the best possible way to be ready and fit for this match, but it didn’t work out for me.”

Tsitsipas held his lone service game against Rune and earned two break points against the Dane. But at the first changeover, he retired.

“I hate retiring from matches,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m not the kind of person that likes leaving mid match. It kills me not to be able to finish this tournament, the one that I’ve prepped for for so long, made sure that I’m completely fit to perform at my best and show my capacities as a player.”

The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion provided further insight into his physical struggles, revealing he has not spent a lot of time on court the past few days.

“I had a little bit of trouble with my movement. It’s mainly affected when I move. It’s difficult to compete in the match without having to move. This is tennis. This is not darts,” Tsitsipas said. “For me, it’s important to be fit and feel good with my back. The pain was very big. I’ve gone through pain during matches in the past, and I endured pain, but this was clearly too much to handle.

“I had to take the difficult decision to do what I did. I felt it at the second game of the match. I actually felt it in the warm-up with my serve. Warming up on my serve, I felt very irritated and lots of pain hitting me on my back. I kind of knew at that time that I might not be able to go all the way.”

Two years ago in Turin, Tsitsipas withdrew from the Nitto ATP Finals following his first match of round-robin play. This year he lost his opener against Jannik Sinner and then attempted to take the court against Rune, but was unable to finish the match. Hurkacz will play World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

“It’s very unfortunate. I’ve had two editions here in Turin where I had to withdraw from the tournament. Never happened to me before that I had to withdraw. Very, very few occasions that I can recall on that matter,” Tsitsipas said. “It definitely hurts me a lot because this is the tournament that means the most to me, including the Grand Slams. I’m not able to compete the way I want to compete.”

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All Rise For Rune! Why Becker & Team Get On Their Feet

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

All Rise For Rune! Why Becker & Team Get On Their Feet

Dane will next face home favourite Sinner in Turin

Holger Rune hired former World No. 1 Boris Becker as his coach last month. Since then, Rune has rejuvenated his season following a mid-year slump. With a semi-final appearance in Basel backed up by a quarter-final run in Paris, Rune is now making his Nitto ATP Finals debut with Becker in his corner.

One notable trait in their young partnership is how often Becker rises to his feet while watching his player compete.

“Might be for the blood flow for the legs,” Rune joked in his post-match press conference. “I just think when he wants to do the coaching, he stands up. He can express more, his way of coaching me. So I think that’s why. I haven’t asked him why he does it.

“When I worked with Patrick [Mouratoglou], he also did it a lot. I think it’s just a character thing that some do, some don’t do. I like the way my box behaves. It’s cool to have him, Lapo [Becherini] (strength & conditioning coach), Mike [James] (data analyst) and my mom to be here with me.”

Rune improved to 1-1 in Green Group on Tuesday when Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to retire after just three games. The World No. 8 Rune, who suffered a three-set defeat to Novak Djokovic earlier this week, is soaking in his Turin debut.

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Tsitsipas Retires In Turin, Hands Rune Win

“I think the Nitto ATP Finals is the biggest ATP event we have. I think it’s a super, super exciting event because I compare it a little bit to Formula 1, because they have these smaller events with less players,” Rune said. “It’s very intense. It’s less matches. Top against top. Obviously you have one day of rest every time, so it’s nice for the body also.”

The Dane’s next challenge will be to extend his 2-0 Lexus ATPHead2Head record against Italian Jannik Sinner.

“He can do whatever he wants on the court. He can hit a great forehand, great backhand, great volley. Great movement, serve, everything,” Rune said. “Obviously it’s more tough here in Italy to play him. That’s what it is. I’m just going to prepare.”

Rune also added that he was prepared for a normal match against Tsitsipas, who was physically unable to continue after 15 minutes.

“Unfortunate to end this way,” Rune said. “I was just ready to compete and build on the level that I did on Sunday. Was expecting a different match obviously, but another tough one.”

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Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Notch First Finals Win

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Notch First Finals Win

Fourth seeds improve to 1-1 in Green Group

Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin kept alive their Nitto ATP Finals hopes on Tuesday when they moved past Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 6-4, 6-4 to improve to 1-1 in Green Group play.

The fourth seeds lost to Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in their opening match but responded well against Gonzalez and Molteni, firing eight aces and winning 94 per cent (30/32) of their first-serve points to triumph after 77 minutes.

Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin joined forces for the first time at the start of this season and enjoyed a standout year. The Mexican-French team won five tour-level trophies, including ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Paris.

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Gonzalez, 40, is the first Mexican to qualify for the year-end event since Jorge Lozano in 1989, while Roger-Vasselin, 39, is appearing at the Nitto ATP Finals for the third time. Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin will play Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in their final round-robin match on Thursday.

Gonzalez and Molteni are now 0-2 in Green Group. The Argentines won five title this season, highlighted by their Masters 1000 triumph in Cincinnati.

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Medvedev: 'Friends & Enemies Don't Exist' On The Court

  • Posted: Nov 14, 2023

Medvedev: ‘Friends & Enemies Don’t Exist’ On The Court

2020 Nitto ATP Finals champ beat close friend Rublev in Turin

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are two of the closest friends on the ATP Tour, so much so that Rublev is godfather to Medvedev’s daughter. But across their nine Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings, they have also become familiar foes on the court.

Medvedev, who leads the series 7-2 following his straight-sets win on Monday at the Nitto ATP Finals, says he is able to put their relationship to one side in between the lines.

“To be honest, on court, I don’t know how it is for him — for me on court, doesn’t exist, friends, enemies. I just try to win the match. I don’t think about anything else.

“But when the last point is finished, it’s like I feel sorry for him, he lost the match. But it’s the same for him. If he beats me, I mean, last year was brutal when he beat me [in Turin]. So I felt for one or two days he was kind of shy to talk to me, taking care.

“It’s the same. You always try to look at him and see if tomorrow we can talk like normal. I’m going to say to him good luck, go for it the next matches, and he’s probably going to say the same.”

So how long does Medvedev need to cool off after a defeat? 

“Depends the person. Me, usually — depends the match — but in general I need probably one hour, around this. Depends the match. Sometimes two. Sometimes 30 minutes. I kind of laugh about it. For sure I will be disappointed, but I can talk to people, laugh about it.

“I think Andrey needs a little bit more time, but that’s just the way he is.”

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Medvedev’s next matchup will be against Alexander Zverev on Wednesday, when Rublev will meet Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev and Zverev are both 1-0 after the German defeated Alcaraz in three sets earlier on Monday.

While the result was an upset by seeding, Medvedev was not surprised by the scoreline considering both players’ recent form.

“If you would ask me two, three months ago, for sure [I would be surprised],” he said. “Tennis is a very, very tricky sport. At this moment, for whatever reason, we feel that Carlos plays just a little bit slower. He doesn’t have the same confidence he had throughout the whole year. This can happen to everyone. This even happen to Novak when he was younger. The question is, how fast is he going to recover? Is it going to be this tournament or next year?

“When he lost the second set, they showed the speed of the strokes, groundstrokes. Sascha was like 10 kilometers [per hour] higher than Carlos. This is very surprising. In general when I saw the match, in the beginning we felt that Carlos is not playing his best. Sascha also. So I’m not surprised at all.

“In the end it turned out to be a great fight and a great match. No surprises. Sascha can play well also, serve well. It’s going to be interesting to play him for the 18th time.”

If that number sounds like an exaggeration, it is not. Medvedev leads his Lexus ATP Head2Head against Zverev 10-7, including wins in four of their five meetings this season.

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