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Novak Djokovic

Yesterday’s Australian Open men’s singles semi-final day was huge where one of the best and legendary grand slam champs was out of the main event by surprise by a rising star, while a seasoned finalist will hopefully get his hands on another grand slam title v a first time challenger for Norman Brookes Challenge Cup come tomorrow night at Rod Laver Arena. But for now, the women’s final will be decided tonight between Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) v Qinwen Zheng (China).

Jannik Sinner stunned Novak Djokovic from the beginning where he was too good with an easy 2-1 lead. Although the Serbian might have got one back at the tiebreak, but then it proved to be such a tall order to crawl back when Sinner at last has dethroned the veteran in the end with the win. Novak has been an top player as always but yesterday wasn’t his day when he wasn’t equipped to handle Sinner mightily on-court that cost him big time before he was finally caught up as he won’t be able to defend his crown and will have to wait until 2025 to get it back. On the other hand, Sinner has been simply outstanding where he will now be on course to hopefully win his first grand slam title at age 22. He was so quick to get off the mark before he took his time to expose the long-form skillsets of Djokovic, having been denied a straight sets route but eventually got away towards the finish line at last in the fourth set. He made it to the Wimbledon semi-final last year as well as winning the Davis Cup for Italy, what’s next? The Australian Open Final. Let’s see if he can go all the way tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, 2 x AO semi finalist Alexander Zverev also fired off really well with a 2-0 lead v Daniil Medvedev. However, Medvedev turned himself around in the toughest of the challenges where he won back-to-back tiebreaker sets before he completed an incredible turnaround at the 5th & final set decider for the win after 4 hours & 18 minutes. Zverev thought he had it at one stage but lost his way against a resurgent Medvedev during the second half there. He’s had an amazing summer here that began with the United Cup win including a mighty doubles effort straight after playing singles for the best of his country (Team Germany) before he continues to shine up in the main draw up until this point & unfortunately he just could not pull off v such a opponent who has been to handful of finals more than him. And last but not least, it’s 3 x AO finalist Danill Medvedev from Russia where might had struggled earlier on despite a great start. But he never gave up as the game goes on where Medvedev turned out to be the better player than Zverev when it comes with the long-form game from two escaping tiebreakers to an unbelievable finish for the win. It’s been a long time coming since he first won the 2021 US Open where he defeated Djokovic in straight sets as he won’t be facing him this time like it was two years ago here that went past 1am but he will instead v first-time finalist in Jannik Sinner in the hope of finally winning one as the next AO champ at RLA.

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The rest of last night during the opening day Australian Open Quarter-Finals other than the three hour, three set women’s match was massive that began with a four set showdown followed by back-to-back straight sets successions as we head into the other half last 8 matches later today & tonight at Rod Laver Arena. Taylor Fritz went so close before he won the 2nd set on what has been a great 1st half effort but Novak Djokovic still holds the court all along to book his place in the semi-final while Jannik Sinner got around Andrey Rublev in the closest of matches & he too has done in straight sets going into Friday as Djokovic’s next opponent. Plus, it’s going to be Coco Gauff v Aryna Sabalenka again this time in the semi after Sabalenka was too good for Barbora Krejcikova.

For Fritz, he had amazing display that pushed Djokovic to the limit earlier on where he was oh so close in the first set followed by a 2nd set win at last to share the lead at 1-1. But just couldn’t kick on when it comes to the 2nd half form unfortunately and that’s where Djokovic eventually caught him out in the end as he had another great finals run here. As for Djokovic, he had some early setbacks against an early finals challenger despite having the early lead. He was able to respond really well like an seasoned champion though for the majority that got him over the line first and the Djoker is ready to take on a challenger who is tipped to win a grand slam trophy sooner rather than later in Italian Jannik Sinner.

Meanwhile, Rublev’s time is over as always where he has still yet to play past the Quarter-Finals after he broke the hearts of Alex De Minaur the other day in the fourth round. He wasn’t bad at the start where he had some great challenges to keep it up with his opponent. But just didn’t have the execution needed to stop Sinner in his tracks unfortunately despite being so close earlier on. On the other hand, Sinner is having the form of his life right now ahead of his 2nd grand slam semi-final after Wimbledon last year this Friday. He had a wonderful start while he never gave up and was being patient the whole way through to win all three sets to become Djokovic’s next opponent, which should be a cracker to watch. A young rising star v an experienced grand slam champ is something Sinner won’t want to hide & show he can live up to his potential at 22 after a great 2nd half of 2023 that includes the Davis Cup title win for Italy.

And looking back at the 2nd Quarter-Final women’s singles game, that was one was so quick in contrast to what we saw between Coco Gauff & Marta Kostyuk earlier in the afternoon. Krejcikova knows how to get the ball rolling but wasn’t consistent unfortunately where she just could not keep it up with Sabalenka for the overall lead. She hasn’t been bad in her last few AO appearances but needs to kick on from here, having had a great 2021 season with her French Open title as well as another Quarter-Final in the US Open before there not much else since then. Sabalenka on the other hand has been so dominant to meet all ends of the court including the other half bridge in particular that blew Krejcikova away. But she has a tough match-up ahead tomorrow night against someone who defeated her in the US Open Final a few months ago named Coco Gauff. She has gone through a series of easy challenges so far up until this next match, but she is the reigning champion here & have been a regular finals competitor throughout last year as Sabalenka won’t take Gauff lightly in order to try & take another grand slam title, which is the same Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

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Like the previous match of the afternoon at Rod Laver Arena, we also witnessed another easy match over in the men’s draw during the fourth round between reigning champion Novak Djokovic & 20th seed Adrian Mannarino from France. The first two sets all belongs to Djokovic unchallenged and although Mannarino finally got the ball rolling but still the match belongs to him in straight sets (6-0, 6-0 & 6-3). He will now be watching the 2nd afternoon match of the day where American Taylor Fritz & last year’s finalist opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) are currently battling it out to try & book a spot with him for the last eight at John Cain Arena.

Well, that was tough but he did bring some smiles and laughter to the crowd after Mannarino was easily eliminated just outside the last eight for the second time at Melbourne Park. The last time he was here was two years ago where the Frenchman was defeated by Rafa Nadal despite an intense first set via the tiebreak  14-16. Yes, he just wasn’t at the races today where Mannarino made some small games this late in this match. However, he had a great run beforehand who overcame a series of five-set showdowns including 16th seed American & also rising star Ben Shelton. He’s currently the best men’s ranked player in his country with still some energy left in the tank at age 35 as let’s hope his next run here will be a QF.

Meanwhile, things ain’t so hard today from the reigning AO champion where he got the job done as quickly on what has been an unusual daytime outime despite the roof being closed as he can in 1 hour and 44 minutes. As said, he was simply too good and unplayable all along without a lot of fuss from start to finish. Now he’s open for another challenge who can push him all the way like 1st round opponent Croatian Dino Prozmic did to him at the tiebreak during the 2nd set before the Serbian responded well towards the end there. That remains to be if it’s going to be Tsitsipas again who is eager to face him again following the last year’s final. If not after another easy run, then there’s always Daniil Medvedev or the new rising Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz on the road towards next Sunday’s main event here.

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Well, it’s been a fairytale run from our Aussie Nick Kyrgios but it all has to come to an end when you can’t underestimate the champion of grass right now from Novak Djokovic with the win. Nick fired off well when he narrowly shut down Novak for the opening set lead. However, he just couldn’t find a way kick on ever since, even though he was so close to take out the 3rd or 4th set in order to stay in this fight. In the end, it’s Novak who now won his fourth straight title here apart from the 2020 cancellation due to COVID – 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 via 7-3 tiebreaker.

He may not have taken home that precious gentlemen’s singles trophy but what an unreal journey nonetheless for Nick Kyrgios. It was a great start with the opening set lead to hold off Novak Djokovic all along before he was tied at 1-1 apiece. He never gave up as this final goes on where he was so close from converting a set that would’ve seen him re-gain the lead while edging closer towards C’ship Point himself, but he just couldn’t find the finishing touches needed to get ahead of Novak. As said earlier, he will have to settle 2nd best after his first ever grand slam singles final appearance at 27. However, let’s hope he continues to build on his fairytale Wimbledon campaign & be a regular Top 8 performer in future grand slams.

And congrats to Novak on his 21st grand slam title as he continues to conquer on the grass with title No.7 at SW19. He was on the same page as Kyrgios at the beginning where Novak fell short in the opening set run. He did turn around however, when Novak responded easily at 1-1 before he overcame his opponent through the very end, in which was enough to deny Kyrgios a 5th set decider & wrap it up in three sets as the champ once again. It’s been a while when Novak was runner-up last year to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open, before he was unable to play earlier this year in Melbourne & also being taken out in the Quarter-Finals last month at the French Open by Rafa Nadal. While he can go & celebrate Wimbledon right now, it remains to be seen if his exemption will allow him to play at the next Australian Open in January since he won’t be able to play at the US Open next month.

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What a way to end this ladies’ singles final on Day 13 at Wimbledon. Ons Jabeur was off to a very easy start with the early lead, but the match wasn’t over just yet when Elena Rybakina held at 1-1 apiece to bring an exciting 3rd set decider. In the end, it’s Rybakina – who overcame Jabeur at the final restart – before she pulled a comfortable finish with a huge breakthrough moment right here on Centre Court. The final score was 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Yes, it’s been so emotional when Jabeur ended up being 2nd best on her first grand slam final appearance. She came here with a fast start to get the ball rolling which blew Rybakina away. However, it’s just not enough to pile the pressure even further when it comes to the 2nd and later 3rd sets. If she had the execution and 2nd half fight to match her opponent’s standard, then this would’ve been a different story via a tiebreak or even regaining the lead. Unfortunately, she couldn’t have them ready to stop Rybakina in its tracks & finish it off her way. But there’s still a whole lot of tennis to look forward to, as Jabeur should continue working hard & try to go one better in the next few grand slams.

And congratulations to 23-year-old Rybakina – who now the Wimbledon ladies singles’ trophy – in her hands for the first time. Now she may have to improve on her build-up base where Rybakina was exposed by Jabeur earlier on. But how about we applaud her fightback, all-round game, patience and execution that helped earn her first major at SW19 – especially with a impressive tall build at 6 foot that got the best of her mind games. She quickly made up lost time from the 2nd set restart when Rybakina tied Jabeur at 1-1, before the path was hers once she took over the lead & controlled the court ever since on the run home. What a moment, what a championship win for the Kazakh. Let’s see if she can continue to be a consistent elite Top 5-10 grand slam player from now on.

For now, Australia is ready to back Nick Kyrgios later night in a bid to take home the gentlemen’s singles trophy against none other than Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.

#Tennis #Wimbledon #GrandSlam #OnsJabeur #ElenaRybakina #Tunisia #Kazakhstan #CentreCourt

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Earlier this morning here in Australia, we woke up to the news that 22 x grand slam champion from Spain Rafa Nadal made a difficult decision to exit in this year’s running at Wimbledon ahead of tonight’s semi-final due to injury. That paves the way for our own Nick Kyrgios – who is now one step away from winning his first grand slam championship on Sunday – thanks to Rafa’s withdrawal via walkover. For now, he will watch the other semi final in a few hours time & see who will be his next challenger – either Britain’s Cameron Norrie or Novak Djokovic from Serbia.

Yes, it’s been heartbreaking not to see him continue if you’re a Rafa fan, but recovery comes first before getting back up to speed with fitness on the tennis court. We would’ve liked to see him win his third straight grand slam title this year, as well as make it title No.23 & go one better to complete the clean sweep at the US Open.

Although he can take home the fourth & grand slam tournament of the year in mid-September, but he will be approaching age 37 now going into mid-2023. So there will be plenty of decisions made if Rafa is gonna bounce back or else retire next year. If he still chooses to play, then he will try and be the third player to win all four grand slams in a single year before retiring from the sport for good – after Rod Laver back in 1962 & 1969 & Don Budge in 1938.

Meanwhile, what a moment to savour from our Aussie own Nick Kyrgios in his first grand slam final appearance – with the Wimbledon Men’s Singles trophy now on his sights. This is the moment he has been waiting for a long time after he took the world by storm out of nowhere – especially when he shocked 4th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece in the 3rd Round a few days ago.

Yes, there’s going to be talk about his off-court life over the next few weeks but now it’s not the time to talk about it. Instead, Australia is right behind him on the cusp of making history at Wimbledon – which would mean another golden moment in Australian tennis and sport in general – alongside the now retired Ash Barty earlier this year at the Australian Open.

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What a thrilling Quarter-Final match to close out Day 9 of Wimbledon when we saw two brilliant players battle for that 1st of two semi-final spots for Friday v Novak Djokovic. We love seeing Belgian David Goffin & Britain’s Cameron Norrie fought back and forth through each and every set until the very end. There’s only one winner to settle at Court No.1 as Norrie came out victorious for Great Britain – 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6 & 5-7.

So unlucky from Belgian No.1 David Goffin who was just being eliminated from the last 8 of this gentlemen’s singles draw. He fired off well for a start before Goffin bounced back after the third set in a bid to wrap things up from his end. Sadly, he just couldn’t overcome the persistence, fightback and execution when Norrie brought to a fifth and final set showdown before it was too late. He’s always a top player with so much effort though, as this was his fourth grand slam Quarter-Final appearance since the 2019 edition here.

Meanwhile, Great Britain is right behind Norrie now in a bid to upsurge Djokovic in the semis on Friday, and be the next Briton to play on a home grand slam final since Andy Murray back in 2016. He finally got the ball rolling when Goffin already took the 1st set lead earlier on. However, that doesn’t mean it’s over when it comes to the overall result – as Norrie just never gave up under pressure all match long. It helped him respond every time Goffin fought back – especially after the 4th set that gave him a lifeline to close it out his way. And that is top level tennis from Norrie when he proved to be a better fighter than Goffin, before he kicked his opponent out of the Final 8 with a brilliant finish to seal the win in front of his home supporters.

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What a match it has been after a gruelling four hours of play between Novak Djokovic & Rafa Nadal to close out Day 10 of the 2022 French Open. Nadal was too good to open this quarter-final account while Djokovic fought back in the 2nd set, even though it was a very competitive battle to tie 1-1 apiece. However, it’s Nadal who responded well to Djokovic’s fight with another easy 3rd set spell, before he denied the Serbian a 5th set lifeline that turned into his semi-final’s ticket for tomorrow v Alexander Zverev from Germany. The final score is 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 via 4-7 tiebreaker.

Djokovic was gutted not to make the Final 4 on his first grand slam campaign of 2022 at the French Open. He shown plenty of fight in a bid to stay in contention against a tough elite grand slam opponent, having responded well from the opening set down before Djokovic almost tied Nadal at 2-2 towards a possible 5th set decider. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t find a way to overtake Nadal for the lead, as well as the need to stay ahead, which ultimately cost Djokovic a semi-final berth.

And congratulations to Nadal after a hard-fought win v the reigning French Open champion. He fired off well very easily for a start with the opening set lead. Now Nadal may have fallen just short by a game or two in the 2nd set, but he’s so good at responding to this fight where he was too good in the 3rd set, cancelled Djokovic’s lifeline towards a possible 5th set decider & turned into a win of his own here under the lights at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

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It was an easy start by Novak Djokovic while Slovakian Alex Molcan began to make up some lost time after he was beaten easily in the opening set. However, Molcan’s late fightback in the 3rd set wasn’t enough to save his French Open campaign, as Djokovic closed out this Round 2 tie in straight sets with the win; 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 via 7-4 tiebreaker.

Congratulations to Djokovic who is through to Round 3 tomorrow against Aljaz Bedene from Slovenia. He was simply outstanding for the majority during these two opening sets. Although he had to overcome a competitive duel in the third while Molcan tried to keep this game alive, but Djokovic used the lifeline well going into the tiebreak and capped off in style with the win. Brilliant response there to hold back his opponent in a couple of areas that helped Novak being prepared to fight hard & show grand slam quality on the court.

Meanwhile, Moclan played some brilliant shots that earned him a few games, especially when he tried to stay in this fight which went all the way through the tiebreak in the 3rd set. But a poor opening set spell alongside a couple of gaps with his inconsistency just couldn’t him challenge the elite stature of Djokovic in the end. He came off a great run recently in the ATP Tour despite a couple of runner-up losses so far in 2022. But there’s still room for improvement though at age 24 where his best grand slam appearance was the US Open 3rd Round last year, as well as being the 38th ranked singles’ player right now.

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History was on the line for each of these gentlemen.

For Novak Djokovic, winning another Wimbledon would tie him with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for 20 grand slam titles.  For Matteo Berrettini, in his debut grand slam final, winning would mean breaking a 45-year dry spell for Italy, and the first Italian to win at Wimbledon.

The mountain was high for Berrettini to climb, he trailed 0-2 in his head-to-head with Djokovic. And he’s never defeated a Top 10 player. But, his powerful serve would be a major challenge against Djokovic, one of the game’s best returners. 

And his heavy forehand was a great matchup against the pace and precision of Novak’s backhand. The edge still went to Djokovic, with superior movement, net play, and experience on his side.

FIRST SET

The beginning of the first set saw a few double faults from the World’s No. 1 and many wild forehands from the 25-year-old Italian. Most likely nerves. Movement looked spotty for the rocket-serving Roman, who came onto court with his groin taped.

The 8th game lasted nearly ten minutes, going back and forth between deuce and ad many times. Berrettini held serve to stay in the first set after a return error into the net from Djokovic, instilling new life into him.

The following game saw Novak give Berrettini a lifeline, by dumping a forehand into the net, making it Ad-Berrettini. A fantastic rally ensued after a second-serve from Djokovic, ending with a Berrettini forehand to the back corner, making it 5-4.

The serving of Berrettini and the returning of Djokovic were world class. But the massive serve off the Italian’s racket was too much for the best server in the game. Leveling the set at 5-5.

An easy service game for Novak, taking only a couple of minutes, put the set at 6-5. There were long rallies where the young Italian came out on top, painting the lines with his forehand and had some help from Djokovic’s unforced errors, sending the first set into a tiebreak.

The tiebreak was a battle in miniature to what the first set was. Unexpected unforced errors by Djokovic, incredible serving from Berrettini. But Novak’s serve improved here, helping him out of any hole that Berrettini’s serve put him in.

Berrettini took the tiebreaker and the first set.

SECOND SET

Djokovic took a quick 4-0 lead in the second, the 4th game only taking a minute to secure.

Berrettini’s energy level dropped after the fight it took to dig himself out of the 2-5 hole in the first. Berrettini fought in the 5th game, getting on the scoreboard with his big serve and big forehand. Djokovic had two set points at 5-3, but Berrettini’s energy picked up and his serve saved him. A near perfect service game for Djokovic followed, and ended the set.

One set all.

THIRD SET

Berrettini opened the third with an easy service hold with his massive forehand getting him some easy winners. 

The Italian’s movement improved and created a lot of opportunities for himself by moving the ball around and placing his serve so well that it created a lot of errors off of Djokovic’s racket. 

A misfired backhand slice from Berrettini, a shot that let him down a few times, ended the game. 2-1, Djokovic.

Djokovic began to serve and volley more during this set, which proved successful for him. Berrettini followed suit and won his next service game by doing the very same. 3-2, Djokovic.

Berrettini placed his shots deep, nearly hitting the baseline where the court has been chewed up from two weeks of matchplay. This caused the ball to take some awkward bounces which tripped up Djokovic a few times.

The men held serve comfortably during this set, but ultimately it was Djokovic who prevailed. Two sets to one.

FOURTH SET

The fourth set was the most exciting: amazing rallies that had the fans giving standing ovations and brought smiles to each player’s face. Berrettini’s energy seemed to return. Djovokic had steadily cleaned up his error count since the first set.

At 3-3, 30-all, the crowd was chanting “MA-TE-O!” But, the World No. 1 thrives when the crowd is behind his opponent, and he wins the game with a rare double fault from Berrettini.

Championship point came at 5-3, 40-30. Berretini served, came to net and saved match point. 40-40. Djokovic came to net to secure another match point. 

Berrettini saved it with a huge forehand down the line. A forehand into the net gives Djokovic match point No. 3. And after one of the longer rallies of the entire match, Berrettini puts another backhand slice into the net. 

Djokovic wins, securing his third grand slam trophy of 2021, sixth Wimbledon title, and 20th grand slam title.

Berrettini served unbelievably and out-aced Djokovic 16 to 5. His forehand helped him win tons of points, racking up more winners than Djokovic. What let him down was his inability to pass with his backhand when Djokovic came to net. 

Nerves were probably what most affected his play, and that confidence will come with time and experience during the big moments of his young career.

Djokovic’s returns were outstanding. Sometimes, he was nearly kneeling and using his racket as a shield to get the ball back in play. He started off the match with 10 unforced errors but, like a great champion does, adjusted and made less errors during each of the four sets. 

The serve and volley strategy he implemented during the second set and continued through the rest of the match, won him a high percentage of net points.

This Wimbledon Gentlemen’s final was a battle. Berrettini put up a fight, but in the end it was Djokovic’s ability to mix up his playing style, use his superior returning skills to keep the Italian hitting one more ball that he would have liked.

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