Djokovic’s Miami Goal? ‘Be The Best Version Of Myself’
Top seed opens against Tomic or Monteiro
Novak Djokovic enjoyed plenty of success at the Miami Open presented by Itau when it was held at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, but the top seed hopes to create equally positive memories at the Hard Rock Stadium.
The Serbian seeks a seventh title at this event, which would give him sole ownership of the record he now shares with Andre Agassi. After a surprise third-round defeat last week to Philipp Kohlschreiber at the BNP Paribas Open, Djokovic went straight to the practise court for a few days of heavy training. Despite the new location, Djokovic said he can still draw on his past experiences at this event.
“Miami is very special for me because it’s where I won my first ATP Masters 1000 title in 2007,” said Djokovic. “It’s opened a lot of doors for me and made me believe in myself even more. I’m trying to refresh those memories, even though it’s a different venue, and I feel ready to perform here.”
Although he sports a 42-6 record at Crandon Park and a blank slate at the Hard Rock Stadium, Djokovic supported the decision to switch locations. After hitting on Stadium Court and giving it his stamp of approval, he said the new venue provides a unique opportunity to bring the sport to an even wider audience.
“I thought it was a bold move to get one of the biggest tournaments in the world in Key Biscayne, a historical venue where this tournament was held for so many years, to a football stadium and create something quite different that we haven’t seen before,” said Djokovic. “It’s a courageous move that can bring a lot of benefits for our sport.”
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It’s hard to believe that 12 months ago, Djokovic suffered back-to-back opening round losses in Indian Wells and Miami, leaving critics to ponder what his next move would be. Since then, he’s amassed three Grand Slam titles, two Masters 1000 titles (Cincinnati, Shanghai), finished runner-up at the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Zverev) and is the clear No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.
Djokovic credited the guidance of his family, particularly his brothers Marko and Djordje, with his success over the past 12 months. Both of his brothers competed on the ATP Tour and understand the sacrifices that are necessary to excel in tennis, but the top seed said the simple lessons he’s learned from them have had the most impact.
“I get reminded by them to make myself more conscious of where I am, to be grateful that I have a family and success in the sport that I love,” said Djokovic. “I have a lot of great advice and quality time spent with my brothers… I’ve always wanted to develop that kind of relationship with them.”
His new perspective has been less results-focused and is more process-oriented. Djokovic opens his Miami campaign against Aussie Bernard Tomic or Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro, but said he isn’t worried about anything besides his own performance.
“I don’t expect anything. I’m just working to be the best version of myself on the court this year and trying to get to the level that I was at during the Australian Open,” said Djokovic. “If I can do that, I have a chance to go far during this tournament.”
Djokovic, Federer Help Break In New Miami Location
Serbian going for record seventh title at the ATP Masters 1000
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer won’t be playing doubles together at the Miami Open presented by Itau, but the two former Miami champions took to the court together on Wednesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Stadium Court.
Djokovic, who is going for a record-setting seventh Miami title, and Federer, a three-time Miami champion, joined WTA players Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams to celebrate the first day of main-draw play at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
The ATP Masters 1000 tournament is being held in Miami Gardens for the first time, after 32 years at Key Biscayne. The tournament was also held in Delray Beach (1985) and Boca Raton (1986).
Stadium seating capacity is 13,800 and other seating capacities are 5,191 at Grandstand, 3,024 at Court 1 and 1,564 at Butch Buchholz. Overall the complex has 12 match courts and 18 practice courts. So far, players seem to be impressed with the spacious new grounds.
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“For the players, the facility is much bigger, much more room and many more courts, so all in general, to play tennis, it’s very nice,” Zverev said.
But the 2018 finalist said he’ll miss the vibe at Key Biscayne. “Crandon Park had something to it. It had some feeling, some energy, something Spanish to it and the crowd was always energetic. I don’t know how it’s going to be here,” he said. “I hope it’s going to take over from Crandon Park and take all the energy here and just to make it bigger, even bigger. Hopefully it’s going to be a similar vibe.”
Djokovic was impressed with the details of the new complex. “I think the colour [of the court] is really nice. It resembles ocean and water. It’s the colour of the Miami Dolphins, and we are guests in their stadium for the first time this year.
“I thought it was a bold move to [relocate] one of the biggest tournaments in the world in Key Biscayne, a historical venue where this tournament was held for so many years, to a football stadium and create something quite different that we haven’t seen before. It’s a courageous move that can bring a lot of benefits for our sport in general. I did practise on the centre court and it’s really nice. I know how much effort, energy and work has been put into the organisation of this event.”
Watch: Tour The New Location Of The Miami Open
Defending champion John Isner will miss reliving memories from his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Key Biscayne. But the American is keeping an open mind.
“Being here for the first time is really cool and unique. As the defending champ, it does have a different feel to it because it’s a completely different venue. At the same time I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot with my game, better than I was last year coming into this,” Isner said.
Federer, who’s playing in the tournament for the 18th time, will, like his peers, miss Key Biscayne. But he’s also energised by the new site.
“It’s a big change. We left an iconic venue in our sport in Key Biscayne,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s nice to see innovation, it’s nice to see growth in the game, and I hope that’s exactly what’s going to happen here.”
Great Britain’s Dan Evans reached the first round of the Miami Open as a ‘lucky loser’ despite a straight-sets defeat in qualifying.
Evans, 28, clashed with the umpire on his way to a 6-4 6-4 loss to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.
But as one of the highest-ranked losers in the final qualifying round Evans entered a ‘lucky loser’ draw and faces Tunisian Malek Jaziri in round one.
Britain’s Jay Clarke lost to India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran in his qualifier.
Clarke, 20, is out of the event after a 6-4 6-4 defeat to the world-number 84.
But Evans moved into the first round after a bad tempered defeat to Bublik in which he was deducted a point for hitting a water bottle with his racquet before arguing with the umpire.
British hopeful Cameron Norrie will play Australia’s Jordan Thompson in round one, while Kyle Edmund will play Italian Thomas Fabbiano or Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in round two after receiving a bye through the first round.
Britain’s Johanna Konta faces American Jessica Pegula in round one of the women’s draw.
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
1. A New Home: The Hard Rock Stadium is the new venue for the 35th edition of the Miami Open presented by Itau. The tournament was held the past 32 years in Key Biscayne after one year in Delray Beach (1985) and Boca Raton (1986). The Stadium seating capacity is 13,800 and other seating capacities are: Grandstand (5,191), Court 1 (3,024) and Butch Buchholz (1,564). Overall there are 12 match courts and 18 practice courts.
2. The Field: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic, three-time winner Roger Federer and reigning champ John Isner are the players in the draw to hold the Miami Open trophy. Overall 18 of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings are competing in Miami.
3. Novak Top Seed: This is the fifth time Novak Djokovic comes into Miami as the World No. 1 and top seed, and the first since 2016 when he won a record-tying sixth title. He won three titles as World No. 1 in 2012, 2015-16. He is 20-1 in Miami at No. 1 and 42-6 overall. He won his first of 32 ATP Masters 1000 titles in 2007 Miami. Last year he came in No. 12, losing to Paire in his opening second-round match.
4. Roger Returns: Federer is making his 18th Miami Open appearance since his debut in 1999. The 37-year-old Swiss superstar is 50-14 in Miami. Federer is 12-2 on the season, highlighted by his 100th tour-level title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and a runner-up finish at the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells.
5. Defending Champion: Last year Isner rallied past Alexander Zverev to capture his first ATP Masters 1000 title and become the first American to win the Miami crown since Andy Roddick in 2010. Isner comes in with a 10-6 record on the season. The top American is 19-10 lifetime in Miami.
6. Sunshine Double: Seven players have swept the first two ATP Masters 1000 events of the season in Indian Wells and Miami. Djokovic has accomplished the feat four times (2011, 2014-15-16) and Federer has done so three times (2005-06, 2017). The others are Andre Agassi (2001), Marcelo Rios (1998), Pete Sampras (1994), Michael Chang (1992) and Jim Courier (1991).
7. Thiem Title Time: Austrian Dominic Thiem captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells (d. Federer) on Sunday. It was Thiem’s 12th career ATP Tour title and he jumped from No. 8 to No. 4 in the ATP Rankings, equaling his career-best ranking on 6 November 2017.
8. #NextGenATP Seeds: Three #NextGenATP players are seeded in Miami: No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 20 Denis Shapovalov and No. 28 Frances Tiafoe. Shapovalov and Tiafoe reached the fourth round last year, while Tsitsipas lost in the first round.
9. Wild Cards: The five wild cards are: Christopher Eubanks (USA), 2013 finalist David Ferrer (ESP), Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB), Nicola Kuhn (ESP) and 17-year-old Chun Hsin Tseng (TPE).
10. Strong Doubles Draw: The Miami doubles field features seven year-end Top 10 teams and six duos making their debut together. Reigning champions and five-time overall winners Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, the No. 3 seeds, have a 58-15 record and this is their 21st straight appearance. The top seeds are Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who captured the Miami title in 2017. There are four Top 10 singles players in the draw: No. 3 Alexander Zverev, No. 4 Thiem, No. 9 Isner and No. 10 Tsitsipas.
STATS OF THE DAY
There have been 19 different players who have won the 19 tour-level tournaments in 2019, the first time that’s occurred to begin a season since the ATP Tour began in 1990.
Eight players in the current Top 18 of the ATP Rankings have won a title this season and there have been seven first-time winners.
Three players have won their first tour-level title at an ATP Masters 1000 event since the series began in 1990 – Roberto Carretero at 1996 Hamburg, Chris Woodruff at 1997 Montreal, Albert Portas at 2001 Hamburg.
There are 11 main draw first-round singles matches and 12 final round qualifying matches on Wednesday’s opening day schedule, led by former World No. 4 and 2010 Miami Open finalist Tomas Berdych, who is ranked No. 89, his lowest since he was No. 93 on 1 March 2004. Berdych takes a 5-0 head-to-head record against Aussie Bernard Tomic.
In qualifying on Court 1, Canadian #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime (18), who reached his maiden ATP Tour final in Rio de Janeiro last month, takes on Italian Paolo Lorenzi. In the next match on, former World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga tries to qualify into his first ATP Tour event since 2007 Queen’s Club in London. He plays Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
British number one Johanna Konta says playing three home WTA grass-court tournaments this summer gives her a “perfect pathway” for Wimbledon.
Konta, 27, has confirmed she is set to return to the events in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne in June.
Wimbledon, where Konta reached the semi-finals in 2017, begins on 1 July.
“Nothing compares to competing at home with passionate fans, friends and family behind you,” said Konta, who is ranked 38th in the world.
Konta, who has played all three tournaments in the past four seasons, has enjoyed notable success on British grass.
As well as reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals two years ago, eventually losing to five-time champion Venus Williams, she has finished runner-up at Nottingham for the past two years and beat then world number one Angelique Kerber at Eastbourne in 2017.
“There is always a strong player field at Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne with no easy matches,” added Konta, who reached fourth in the world after her Wimbledon exploits.
The Nature Valley Open starts in Nottingham on 8 June, followed by the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on 15 June and the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne on 21 June.
Fans Believe Thiem Will Qualify For Nitto ATP Finals
Austrian is seventh most populous pick this far
Dominic Thiem arrived at the BNP Paribas Open with a 3-4 record to start the season and left with his first ATP Masters 1000 title. Not only did the win launch him from No. 90 to No. 5 in the ATP Race To London, but fans also seem to think the Austrian is on his way to qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth straight year.
Fans have been provided with an opportunity to pick the eight players they believe will qualify for this year’s season finale. Based on his inspired run in Indian Wells and victory over Roger Federer in the final, Thiem is currently the seventh hottest pick, with 43.2 per cent believing he’ll appear at the O2 in London.
Pick the eight players you think will qualify for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals and you could win the ultimate trip for two to London to attend this year’s season finale.
Perhaps surprisingly, the opening-round exit that Stefanos Tsitsipas had in Indian Wells did nothing to impact fan perceptions of whether he will qualify for the season-ending championship. In fact, more fans believe he will make it there. The Greek player jumped over Kei Nishikori as the fifth hottest pick with 57.9 per cent of fans selecting him, up from 51.2 per cent two weeks ago. He seeks to become the first player to compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals and then make the Nitto ATP Finals the next year.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev continue to hold the top four spots, in the order listed, and remain overwhelming fan favourites’ to appear at The O2 from 10-17 November. Buy Your Tickets Today
Two-time Miami champion Roddick reveals how Agassi inspired his philanthropy
When Andy Roddick was 17 years old, he was on the same flight as fellow American Andre Agassi. The teenager hadn’t yet earned an ATP Ranking, but he wanted to pick the brain of his hero, so he asked Agassi if he had any regrets.
The former World No. 1 and 60-time tour-level champion told Roddick that he wished he had started his foundation earlier. The next year, 2000, he founded the Andy Roddick Foundation to help support underprivileged children.
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“The conversation with Andre planted the seed in my head. In tennis, I don’t know that we get enough credit for the history and the people who have come and the big changes they have made, whether it’s Arthur Ashe or Billie Jean King with equality, Roger or Andre, tennis players are on the Mount Rushmore of philanthropy and I think that trickles down,” Roddick told ATPTour.com. “If you see your heroes doing something, it makes it a lot easier to lean in. So they certainly deserve the lion’s share of the credit for what any of us have done.”
“One of the biggest regrets in my career was not starting the Andre Agassi Foundation For Education sooner. So it’s great to see that Andy not only started his foundation at a young age, but he has continued to have an impact on youth for many years since,” Agassi told ATPTour.com. “Tennis gave me a great platform, and I’m blessed to be able to make a difference in children’s lives. If others in the sport were inspired to jump into philanthropy because of my work, that makes it even more special.”
To this day, the Andy Roddick Foundations helps provide high quality out-of-school learning and enrichment for youth and families where there may not otherwise be such opportunities. The Foundation has raised more than $20 million for children’s charities since its inception.
Last September, despite suffering a disappointing fourth-round loss at the US Open, Roger Federer traveled to Austin, Texas, to star at a conversation-based event raising money for the Andy Roddick Foundation.
“Roger was extremely gracious when he came to Austin. As soon as he landed, I picked him up from the airport and his questions weren’t, ‘What time can I be out of here? What’s going to be the path of least resistance for the next three or four hours?” Roddick recalled. “They were, ‘How can I make the most impact while I’m on the ground here? Who do we need to talk to? What are the important messages we need to get out about the foundation?’ So his questions about how he could be best used for the day were very impressive and appreciated and he was so gracious throughout the afternoon. We were lucky to have him and it was nice seeing my former life and current life live in unity for a day.”
It’s been more than six-and-a-half years since Roddick retired at the 2012 US Open. But he is still working hard — just not on the tennis court. Instead, his efforts are dedicated towards helping kids and their families.
“I think tennis is a bit more of a self-serving endeavour. Each day it’s a little bit more selfish. You have your coaches, your trainers, your team around you. You want to create your schedule so it’s almost like you’re a planet and you have this little orbit going on around you at all times,” Roddick said. “The foundation work is completely the opposite. You’re looking a little bit more outwards than inwards. But it does take a certain drive, it does take planning, it does take goal-setting, so there are some similarities. But the day-to-day I think are very different.”
Roddick’s life has also fundamentally changes since his days competing on the ATP Tour. Roddick’s wife, Brooklyn Decker, has since given birth to two children. So while their first child, Hank, was born 15 years after the Foundation was created, the work it does has resonated even more since.
“When a parent doesn’t have to leave at 2 o’clock and can actually work those last three hours of the day and you multiply that by five days a week and by weeks in a year, it makes a huge difference financially for a family, which changes the dynamic of a kid’s life,” Roddick said. “That certainly wasn’t the motivation when we started and like I said it is an unintended consequence, but it’s also something I really championed when talking to out-of-school time programs and the difference it could make.”
Kyrgios Reveals Biggest Regret While Inspiring Youngsters
Cilic, Tsitsipas and Schwartzman join Q&A during Miami Unites Day
Nick Kyrgios’ biggest regret as a youngster? “I wish I listened to my parents when I was your age,” the Australian confessed to elementary school students at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Tuesday. “That’s my biggest regret.”
Kyrgios participated in a Q&A session with students about overcoming adversity and being a positive force in the community along with Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic, Diego Schwartzman, Nicolas Jarry and Petra Kvitova. The World No. 33 also spoke about the sacrifice required to make it as a pro tennis player.
“When I was 14, my parents told me I could no longer play basketball and still to this day it breaks my heart. It was one of the toughest challenges to give that up [to focus on tennis]. I love basketball.”
Fifty fourth and fifth-grade students from Hollywood Park Elementary School, who are highly active participants in UNICEF’s Kid Power initiative that promotes acts of kindness, got to meet the players. They were joined by 12 tennis team members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the South Florida school rocked by a mass shooting just over one year ago.
World No. 10 Tsitsipas told the students that overcoming financial hardship was one of the biggest obstacles he overcame early in his career.
“Greece was suffering economically during the period that I grew up, so it was not easy to pursue my dream,” he said. “Those circumstances held me back, but I was lucky that I had people in my family who helped to make my dream possible. It was also difficult for me to not see my family very much when I did begin to travel for my tennis. I was lucky that I had my dad to travel with me, but I missed my mother, my siblings and my grandparents.”
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Nishikori spoke about overcoming the hardship of leaving Japan for the United States to train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“I moved at a young age and I was really homesick in the beginning. It was a different culture, I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t speak English,” he said. “But I dedicated myself to practice – from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. – and I found a way to enjoy it.”
Cilic told the kids that “we all share a similar story about going through struggles to reach our full potential. I had to move from my family to a bigger city. It made me stronger and more responsible knowing what I wanted to do. There were many tough moments, but my family always supported me. Because of the tough moments, I am a better person and I appreciate the life I now have more. Believe in yourself, work hard and you can achieve your goals.”
Main draw play at the Miami Open presented by Itau, being played for the first year at Hard Rock Stadium, begins Wednesday.