Rafa Nadal stuns Noval Djokovic to equal Roger Federer’s grand slam record


Paris: Rafael Nadal put in an astonishing performance at Roland Garros on Sunday to devastate Novak Djokovic and draw even with Roger Federer’s record 20 grand slam titles.

The Spaniard was in an uncompromising mood, taking his 13th French Open title in straight sets 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 against the world No.1.

Rafael Nadal en route to victory in the French Open final on Sunday.Credit:AP

Nadal was the early aggressor as he choked Djokovic to win the opening set in brutal fashion having made only two unforced errors. He then kept a firm grip on a subdued Djokovic in the second set under the roof of court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, who was looking to win his 18th grand slam title, rebelled in the third set, breaking back for 3-3, only to drop serve on a double fault in the 11th game before Nadal went on to bag his 100th victory at Roland Garros with an ace.

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Nadal vs. Djokovic Live Tracker


How to watch: NBC in the United States and streaming on the NBC and NBC Sports apps.

Rafael Nadal, a 12-time French Open champion, has never lost a final at Roland Garros and has never been pushed past four sets. He could tie Roger Federer on Sunday with a 20th Grand Slam singles title, a men’s record.

Novak Djokovic, the top seed and a 17-time Grand Slam singles champion, is on a quest to win each of the four Grand Slam events for a second time and to eventually catch his rivals in major titles.

Djokovic is hurting himself with his serve placement.

It goes without saying that Nadal is crushing Djokovic’s spirit by dominating his serve, but the problem may have more to do with Djokovic than with Nadal.

Throughout the tournament, Nadal has continued to receive serves from far behind the baseline, even as other players have crept closer into the court to take advantage of the slower, heavier ball.

The way to punish an opponent who is standing so far back is to send them a serve out wide, so that he is in a terrible position to get into the point after the return. But Djokovic’s serve, especially his second serve, is not going anywhere near the lines, giving Nadal a chance to tee off on the ball and switch from defense to offense early in the point.

That’s how you end up winning just 10 of 22 points on first serve and seven of 16 on second serve through four service games.

Nadal dominates in the opening set and wins it 6-0.

An extraordinary start for Nadal gets more extraordinary as he saves two break points on his serve to hold and then breaks Djokovic for the third time in the set, this time from 40-0.

He then held on his serve to win the first set, 6-0.

Nadal’s ball striking is crisp, his movement remarkable and his judgment close-to-impeccable at this early stage.

His 5-0 lead left Djokovic shaking his head and puffing out his cheeks even after he won points. The pressure is intense, and a lot of his playbook is in tatters, including his heavy reliance on the drop shot.

Djokovic had never previously lost a set 6-0 in a Grand Slam final. During the break, several fans serenaded him in Serbian, in hopes of lifting him up for the second set.

The one place Nadal has not had success early on is at net, winning just three of eight points so far when brought forward in the court. He also has only won seven of 15 rallies that have extended to nine or more shots.

FIRST SET, NADAL LEADS 3-0

Nadal gained an early edge by winning twice on Djokovic’s serve.

Nadal drew first blood in this French Open final, breaking Djokovic in the opening game of the match. Djokovic showed a heavy reliance on his drop shot during the first game, hitting them early in rallies with mixed success as Nadal pounced for an opening break.

Djokovic then drew from 40-15 to deuce on Nadal’s following service game, but Nadal consolidated the break with a hold.

Nadal furthered his lead to a double break one game later, going up 3-0 as Djokovic’s cross-court backhand hit the net on Nadal’s second break point of the game.

The new roof on the stadium is closed because of rain.

With a bit of rainy weather, the roof on Phillipe Chatrier Court is closed for the men’s final. There are so few fans that the rain can be heard pelting the roof.

According to French Open policy, a match that begins with a closed roof must continue with a closed roof, even if it is sunny outside.

That makes this the first French Open final to be played indoors. But is this truly indoors?

The new roof is more of a canopy, allowing outside air to flow inside and having little effect on the temperature. But it does have two big effects: cutting down the wind and eliminating the shadows that have been an issue for players during late-afternoon matches in these unusual October dates (the shadows would not be present during the same time and in the same place if the tournament was staged in its normal May and June window).

The lack of wind should help Djokovic, whose flatter strokes have less margin for error than Nadal’s, and he also has relied heavily on the drop shot in this tournament.

But this is still red clay at Roland Garros, where Nadal’s record is second to none: 99-2.

Djokovic has beaten Nadal more often, but Nadal has an edge on this surface.

Djokovic and Nadal have the most prolific rivalry in the history of men’s professional tennis, with the French Open final serving as their 56th career meeting.

Djokovic, who has won 29 of their previous 55 matches, has also won 14 of the last 18. That includes their last Grand Slam final, in which he dominated Nadal, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in last year’s Australian Open final. The match lasted just over two hours.

Nadal, however, has won the last three matches the two have played on clay, most recently in the Rome final last year, and 17 of 24 clay matches over all.

Nadal has won six of their seven matches at the French Open, including the finals in 2012 and 2014. However, it will be fresh in his mind that his last defeat at Roland Garros, way back in the 2015 quarterfinals, came at the hands of Djokovic.

Experts are divided on this match: oddsmakers have Nadal as a slight favorite, while the analytics website Tennis Abstract puts Djokovic’s odds of winning at 54 percent.

Nadal, nicknamed the King of Clay, could win his 100th French Open match.

Nadal, the long-reigning King of Clay, arrives at the French Open final on Sunday with a 99-2 record at Roland Garros and a chance to hit some big round numbers with a 100th win at the tournament and a 20th Grand Slam title.

Nadal had less tournament preparation for this event than ever before, however. After skipping the United States Open, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open in Rome, which was his only warm-up event on clay and the only event he had played since winning a title in Acapulco, Mexico, in late February — just before the tour ground to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The conditions in Paris this year were considered unfavorable for Nadal, with the cold air causing the ball to bounce lower, tempering some of his heavy topspin compared with how the ball would leap if the tournament were held in June as usual. But his results seem to be unaffected: He has not dropped a set in his first six matches.

Mladenovic and Babos won in doubles after a virus-related disqualification from U.S. Open.

Forced to withdraw from the United States Open because of a mid-tournament change in policy, Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos channeled their frustration into another run to the French Open women’s doubles title.

They defended their title on Sunday with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over surprise finalists Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi.

Mladenovic finished off the victory with a forehand passing shot, then dropped her racket on the clay and was soon locked in a deep embrace with Babos.

“A few weeks ago, we were unfairly disqualified from the U.S. Open,” Mladenovic said in her post-match remarks to the crowd in Philippe Chatrier Court.

She thanked Luka, her brother and coach. “Without you, I would have gone into depression,” Mladenovic said.

She dedicated the victory to Benoit Paire, the French men’s player whose positive test for the coronavirus in New York triggered a series of events that led to Mladenovic being unable to continue in the tournament after she and Babos won their first-round U.S. Open match.

“We were unlucky,” Mladenovic said of Paire.

Paire tested positive before the U.S. Open and was withdrawn from the singles and isolated in the player hotel. Contact tracing determined that Paire had extended exposure to Mladenovic and several other French and Belgian players and coaches. That group — nicknamed The Paire 11 — was required to quarantine for two weeks. Initially, members of the group signed a new agreement with U.S. Open organizers that restricted their movements and contact with other players, requiring them to stay in their hotel but allowing them to continue training and playing in the tournament.

But Nassau County health officials, who had jurisdiction over the player hotel in Long Island, later enforced a stricter quarantine. Mladenovic, the last of the group still in contention at the U.S. Open, was no longer allowed to leave the hotel. She and Babos were unable to play their second-round match with Gabriela Dabrowski and Alison Riske.

This final plays right into the Greatest of All Time debate.

Much as last year’s Wimbledon final between Djokovic and Federer was, this could be a crucial match in determining who finishes with the men’s record for Grand Slam singles titles.

Federer, 39, who has not played since January and has undergone two knee operations, holds the lead with 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal, who sits at 19, can tie that record with his 13th French Open title on Sunday. And Djokovic, who has won 17, can pull within one of Nadal with a win on Sunday. Djokovic would also become the first man in the Open era to have won each of the Grand Slam events twice.

A question for Federer and his fans to ponder on Sunday: Which potential champion more jeopardizes Federer’s ultimate standing when all is said and done?

Djokovic has had a messy 2020.

Novak Djokovic has had one of the best seasons in tennis history when the ball has been in play, and one of the most messy when it has not been.

He has not lost a completed match all year, racking up a 37-0 record in matches played to fruition, including titles at the ATP Cup, the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western & Southern Open (moved from Cincinnati to New York) and Rome.

The caveat of “matches played to fruition” in that last sentence is necessary to allow for his extraordinary disqualification in the fourth round of the U.S. Open last month, when he was booted from the tournament after a ball he hit in anger struck a line judge in the throat, sending her to the ground gasping for air.

Djokovic has also run into myriad other issues off the court this season, including his leading of the Adria Tour exhibition event in Serbia, at which several players, including Djokovic himself, contracted the coronavirus.

When the ball is in play, at least, he has been very good.

Djokovic was challenged more in the early rounds than Nadal.

Djokovic has had the considerably tougher road to the final, both in terms of the rankings of opponents he has faced and the competitiveness of those matches. Djokovic beat the 18th-ranked Pablo Carreño Busta in four sets in the quarterfinals, completing some unfinished business, as Carreño Busta was his opponent in the U.S. Open match from which Djokovic was defaulted.

In the semifinals, Djokovic had a match point in the third set against the sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, but Tsitsipas rallied to take the set and then won the fourth before Djokovic ran away with the fifth, 6-1.

Nadal has not dropped a set in any of his six matches at the tournament so far, but he did not face any opponent ranked in the top 70 until the semifinals, in which he beat the 14th-ranked Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (0).

But because of Nadal’s slower pace of play and longer rallies, he has spent only an hour 23 minutes less on court than Djokovic has, despite playing 24 fewer games.

This French Open looked far different than usual because of the coronavirus.

Usually held in late May and early June with tens of thousands of fans in attendance each day, the French Open made the aggressive move in mid-March to reschedule to late September and early October, unilaterally claiming a spot on the tennis calendar without consulting other tennis governing bodies.

The bold move has paid off, as the tournament was able to proceed, but not at full strength. Organizers initially hoped to have as many as 11,500 paying fans in attendance each day, but public health protocols eventually slashed that number to 1,000.

Matches at Roland Garros have had more atmosphere than those at the U.S. Open, which was completely closed off to paying spectators, but there are still more than 10,000 seats sitting empty inside Philippe Chatrier Court.

The fans inside the arena have worn masks during the matches, though they are usually clumped together in the prime seats, rather than taking advantage of the considerable elbow room available elsewhere. Pandemic protocols in Paris have tightened during the tournament, including closures of cafes and restaurants, but the tournament has played on.

The men’s tennis tour will return to Paris later this month for the Paris Indoors Masters event, which begins on Oct. 31.

Max Gendler contributed reporting.



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Men’s Final, Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal, score, news, result, how to watch


The race to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slam singles titles comes to a head at the French Open men’s final on Sunday.

After two weeks of enthralling tennis in Paris, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and clay master Rafael Nadal will compete for the coveted Roland Garros title at Court Philippe Chatrier.

It will be the 56th time the powerhouses face off in professional tennis, 29 of which Djokovic has won.

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The match is scheduled to commence at 12am on Monday morning, and will be shown on SBS, Fox Sports and Kayo.

SURPRISE REASON RAIN WILL HELP DJOKOVIC

With a handful of spectators watching on, Nadal and Djokovic made their way onto the centre court to enthusiastic cheers.

There was a mild drizzle in Paris, so the roof was closed at Court Philippe Chatrier, leaving a perpetual patter of rain in the background.

New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “New roof in Chatrier is more of a canopy that allows outside air to flow through but it will eliminate the wind, which is an advantage for Djokovic with his smaller margins for error with flatter strokes and heavy reliance on drop shots this year.”

Although Nadal has already won 12 French Open finals, none of those victories were indoors.

Before the match, Djokovic told reporters: “The conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.

“Regardless of the conditions, he’s Rafa, he’s in the finals and we’re playing on clay.

“I did lose to him on this court most of the matches that we played, but I also won one match in 2015.”

DJOKOVIC TARGETING RARE 51-YEAR FEAT

Nadal’s record in the French Open is undeniably staggering — with a record 12 Roland Garros titles to him name, the Spanish superstar has registered 99 wins and just two losses since his maiden grand slam victory in 2005.

But the 34-year-old is not only playing for a century of French Open wins tonight.

Nadal has claimed 19 grand slam singles titles to date, ranking him at second on the all-time list behind Federer, who has 20.

“I don’t think this is the biggest match that I have ever played in my life,” Nadal said.

“In terms of importance, probably the first Wimbledon final that I actually played against him.

“Wimbledon was always the one that I wanted to win as a kid and dreamt of winning. That’s probably the one that stands out.”

READ MORE: Iga Swiatek’s history-making French Open win

Meanwhile, Djokovic is eyeing his second grand slam victory of the calendar year after winning the Australian Open in February.

The Serbian will be seething after his shock exit from the US Open last month, and now has the potential to close the gap between himself and Federer to just two major titles.

With the exception of his self-inflicted loss in New York, Djokovic is undefeated in 37 matches this year.

Djokovic would also become the third man to win each grand slam tournament twice if he defeats Nadal — Australian legend Rod Laver was the most recent male player to achieve the rare feat in 1969.

“The conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June,” Djokovic said.

“I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball is not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.”



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French Open: Novak Djokovic edges past Stefanos Tsitsipas in thriller


Djokovic had only lost once after winning the first two sets in 216 previous Grand Slam matches

Top seed Novak Djokovic withstood a gutsy fightback from Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up a French Open final against long-time rival Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Djokovic, 33, missed a match point in the third set before eventually winning 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 at Roland Garros.

The Serb missed another match point in what was the final game before cracking a forehand winner to get over the line.

Nadal, who is going for a 13th title, beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

The top two seeds in the men’s draw will face each other for the 56th time in their careers – no two men have played each other more – and the ninth time in a Grand Slam final.

The match could also be pivotal in the long-running battle between Djokovic, Nadal and Swiss rival Roger Federer in determining which man finishes with the most Grand Slam titles.

If Nadal lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy yet again, it will see him equal Federer’s all-time leading record of 20 men’s majors

Djokovic, meanwhile, knows a victory will move him to 18 – within one more of Nadal and two adrift of 39-year-old Federer.

The case for making Djokovic favourite for the final

While Nadal has the unparalleled history at Roland Garros, there is justification in suggesting Djokovic has the superior form going into Sunday’s final.

Even though Djokovic has dropped three sets over the fortnight in Paris – unlike Nadal – he has regularly played at a high level which even the Spaniard would struggle to contain.

The manner of the Spaniard’s wins have not been quite as impressive, while Djokovic has overcome tougher opponents in Russian 15th seed Karen Khachanov, Spanish 17th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and now Tsitsipas in the latter stages.

In addition, Djokovic has the added benefit of the extra momentum he has garnered over the past couple of months.

Djokovic has won all 36 of his completed matches in 2020, with his only loss coming when he was defaulted from that infamous US Open fourth-round match against Carreno Busta.

Crucially, there seems to be an extra sharpness and steeliness in Djokovic’s game.

Even though he was not as clinical against Tsitsipas as it seemed he would be, the way in which he remained composed to check the Greek’s fightback and win the decider adds further weight to the thought he will win a second French Open title on Sunday.

Another worry for Nadal fans might be the way Djokovic swatted the Spaniard aside in the 2019 Australian Open final – in similar circumstances to this tournament.

Nadal had not dropped a set on his way to that final but, like now, went into the tournament without much competitive action and ended up being nowhere near the level required to cause problems for an in-form Djokovic.

Despite all of that, it seems ridiculous to write off Nadal at the place where he has only lost twice in 15 years.

More to follow.



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Tennis news, French Open 2020, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, head to head, betting, favourite, men’s final


Imagine being poor Diego Schwartzman and seeing a graphic showing Rafael Nadal’s record at Roland Garros ahead of your maiden grand slam semi-final.

100 matches played. 98 wins. Two defeats. Twelve titles.

Give me a spell.

Nadal made it 99 and moved within one victory of French Open trophy number 13 with a 6-3 6-3 7-6 win that looked straightforward on the scoresheet but took more than three hours to complete.

Only Novak Djokovic (25 in 2013), Roger Federer (16 in 2005) and Andy Murray (13 in 2011) have won more games in a Roland Garros semi-final against Nadal than the plucky Argentine managed overnight Friday – another stat that shows the clay GOAT’s greatness.

Nadal acknowledged his opponent’s effort by giving him extended applause as he exited the court and said his win over Schwartzman was his best match of this year’s tournament.

The Spaniard will meet world number one Djokovic in two days time with the opportunity to match Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slam titles. Djokovic can win his 18th.

After such a discombobulated season of tennis it’s a dream finish to the grand slam calendar, even if Nadal is playing down his chances against a man who is yet to lose a match he wasn’t defaulted in this year.

“I’m in a final, I haven’t lost a set, although it’s true there have been other times at Roland Garros where I have felt better,” said Nadal.

“The conditions are not perfect for my style nor for my impact on the ball, so it means a lot to be where I am.

“I know I have to make a step forward. I think I did one today. But for Sunday is not enough. I need to make another one. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Nadal made amends for his loss to Schwartzman in Rome last month, the first time the Argentine had defeated him in 10 attempts.

The 14th-ranked Schwartzman had knocked out US Open champion Dominic Thiem to reach his first major semi-final but found Nadal a hurdle too steep on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“The situation is different. I was more prepared here, Rome was my first tournament after six months,” said Nadal.

“Today that experience helped me to be careful. I tried to play with a plan, with determination, and the strategy was the right one.”

Nadal has defeated Djokovic three times in the Roland Garros final – in 2012, 2014 and 2015 – but believes his previous successes will count for little on Sunday.

“Different circumstances, different kind of tournament and different situation, no?” he said.

“I can’t predict the future. The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, situation is very difficult.”

Djokovic was made to work even harder in a 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 win against Stefanos Tsitsipas, in his 38th semifinal from just 62 grand slam appearances.

Tsitsipas staved off a match point in the third set to force a fourth and fifth set but the gap between the golden generation and the new breed – even if the Greek youngster describes himself as an “adult” now – remains clear.

Djokovic took his record to 216-1 after winning the first two sets in a slam match by charging through the fifth to set up his 56th encounter against Nadal.

Djoker leads the head-to-head count 29-26, but Nadal leads 9-6 in grand slam matches and 6-1 at Roland Garros.

– with AFP



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French Open semi-finals: Djokovic v Tsitsipas, Nadal crushes Schwartzman – live! | Sport














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Novak Djokovic takes the first set 6-3 against Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Rafael Nadal defeats Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 7-6(0) to reach final

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Another player out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19, Djokovic wins in Rome


“The Roland Garros tournament directors can confirm that two players competing in the qualifying tournament have tested positive for COVID-19 and three others have confirmed close contact with a coach who has tested positive for COVID-19,” the French Tennis Federation had said in a statement.

“In line with tournament health protocols, the five players will not compete in the qualifying tournament and will self isolate for a period of seven days. In total, some 900 tests have been carried out since September 17.”

Organisers did not reveal the names of those who had been pulled out but Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur said he had been withdrawn because his coach Petar Popovic had returned a positive test.

“That’s why I can’t play at Roland Garros and I don’t have a chance to compete,” he wrote on his Instagram account.

“He [Popovic] didn’t get a chance to do a second test and we’re sure he was false positive because my coach has antibodies,” added Dzumhur, who reached the third round in Paris in 2015 and 2018.

The French Open will be held from September 27-October 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot.

The FFT plans to allow 5000 spectators each day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in France. It previously said the claycourt major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.

In Rome, world No.1 Novak Djokovic overcame a sluggish start to lift his fifth Italian Open title, defeating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 for a record 36th ATP Masters crown.

Novak Djokovic celebrates his win.Credit:Getty Images

“It was a great week, a very challenging week,” Djokovic, who was playing his first event since being defaulted at the US Open for inadvertently hitting a line judge with a ball, said on court. “I found my best tennis when I needed it most.”

“I’m proud that I managed to find the fifth gear when I needed it.”

Djokovic’s win moves him clear on the list of Masters 1000 titles, one ahead of rival Nadal, and sets him up perfectly for an assault on next week’s rescheduled French Open.

“Now we turn to Paris and I couldn’t ask for a better tournament here in Rome,” the 33-year-old Djokovic, the oldest male winner of the Italian Open title, said.

Heading into Roland Garros, Djokovic has won 31 of his 32 matches this season, and will be among the favourites alongside 12-times winner Nadal and US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

Meanwhile, top seed Simona Halep gave her French Open preparations a boost when she claimed the Italian Open after second seed Karolina Pliskova retired from the final with injury when she was down 6-0, 2-1.

Victory gave Halep her first title in Rome and her third consecutive title of the year after wins in Dubai – before the COVID-19 hiatus – and Prague last month.

Reuters

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Roger Federer truth hurts Novak Djokovic, Lleyton Hewitt explains


Novak Djokovic may win more grand slams than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but he’ll never be loved like they are.

The Serbian tennis star has won 17 major titles and is hunting Nadal (19) and the Fed Express (20). Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to overtake Federer as the all-time grand slam leader in men’s tennis, and also wants to surpass his record for the most weeks spent as world No. 1 (310 weeks).

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Djokovic’s reputation has copped a hammering in 2020. From ignoring social distancing regulations during his ill-fated Adria Tour to starting a breakaway players association to being disqualified for hitting a lineswoman at the US Open — the 33-year-old has only hurt himself.

It’s not like he was Mr Popularity to begin with, either. That much was evident when he was ruthlessly booed on Centre Court during last year’s Wimbledon final against Federer, and again during this summer’s Australian Open decider.

Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt said it must be “frustrating” for Djokovic to accept the fact no matter how many wins he clocks up, he will never have the same widespread appeal as his two biggest rivals.

“Obviously he’s in an era now where those two guys are so well loved globally, and it’s really hard for Novak to share that love with a lot of the other spectators of the sport,” Hewitt told news.com.au.

“That’s the tough thing. Roger and Rafa have been, certainly in my generation, the two greatest ambassadors you could have ever hoped for, for our sport.

“So for Novak to come in, I’m sure that’s frustrating for him because he feels like at times he is the greatest player.

“His record against those two guys, especially in big tournaments, what he’s been able to do in the slams (is brilliant) … but that crowd support I don’t think is ever going to change for Roger and Rafa.”

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Djokovic must surely know he’s no chance of hitting the same heights as Federer and Nadal when it comes to global admiration — especially not after the year he’s had. But Hewitt said it’s important he doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to copy those two.

“Novak’s going to go down as one of the greats and physically-wise he’s going to have a lot more chances to pass the other two in grand slams in the next five years or so,” Hewitt said.

“He’s just got to be himself. There’s no point trying to copy other people or try and take fans away from Roger and Rafa because that’s not going to happen.

“He’s just got to be himself, be original. We all know what a great tennis player he is.”

If anyone knows a thing or two about redemption, it’s Hewitt. The backwards-cap wearing icon was a brash youngster who rubbed some people the wrong way as his competitiveness was interpreted by critics as a lack of humility.

But over time he matured into an athlete his country could be proud of. A fighter who never gave up, Hewitt became a symbol of everything Aussies love in their sportsmen and women.

It’s why the two-time grand slam champion has been selected as one of five candidates on the ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s class of 2021, alongside: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Lisa Raymond, Jonas Bjorkman and Sergi Bruguera.

Hewitt is the first Australian to be nominated since wheelchair great David Hall was inducted in 2015, and said it’s flattering to be considered for such a prestigious honour.

“It would be a dream come true to be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame,” Hewitt told news.com.au. “It’s something as a junior player you don’t really think about, that you could possibly be in there one day.

“The actual Hall of Fame in Newport in Rhode Island was always a special place for me.

“It’s something you don’t really think about too much but obviously it’s a great honour to be nominated.”

The successful candidates will be announced in early 2021.

From October 1-25, fans can vote on which nominees that would like to see inducted into the Hall of Fame at vote.tennisfame.com.



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Rafael Nadal stunned, Novak Djokovic throws temper tantrum, Rome


Diego Schwartzman scored the biggest win of his career, stunning Rafael Nadal in straight sets on the Spaniard’s favourite surface.

The Argentine outclassed Nadal 6-2 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open, which is being played on clay as a lead-in event to the French Open — a grand slam Nadal has won 12 times.

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It’s Schwartzman’s first ever win over the world No. 2 in 10 meetings and his first victory over a top-five opponent.

The result saw the world No. 15 deny Nadal a 10th title in Rome, and the left-hander will now turn his attention to preparing for another tilt at Roland Garros.

Schwartzman hit 31 winners to Nadal’s 21, while the king of clay was uncharacteristically sloppy in making 30 unforced errors.

Schwartzman will face Canadian young gun Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals.

DJOKOVIC LOSES HIS COOL AGAIN

Top men’s seed Novak Djokovic dropped a set before fighting off German qualifier Dominik Koepfer to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open this morning.

The world No. 1 needed more than two hours to see off the 97th-ranked German 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Two weeks after his US Open default for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball, the Serb again showed signs of frustration, throwing his racquet after a lost service game, with shouts of anger resounding in the silence of the empty Central Court of Foro Italico.

“It’s not the first nor the last racquet that I’ll break in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it but when it comes, it happens.

“That’s how, I guess, I release sometimes my anger and it’s definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me, and I don’t encourage that – definitely.

“That’s just me. “Of course I’m not perfect and I’m doing my best.”

Djokovic was broken four times before advancing to his 11th semi-final in Rome, where he has reached the final nine times and won four titles.

“Credit to (Dominik) for fighting back, but I have myself to blame for putting myself in a position to play a third set,” said Djokovic.

“I was a set and a break up and everything was looking great. I just wasn’t managing to make that final shot, that final step to win in straights.”

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The 33-year-old next plays Norway’s Casper Ruud who earlier battled past Italian fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

“Clay is definitely Casper’s preferred surface,” said Djokovic. “This is where he feels most comfortable. It’s semi-finals and it is anybody’s game.

“I’ll do some homework and be ready for that one.”

Amid the frustration there was a lighthearted moment when umpire Nacho Forcadell forgot who was playing and accidentally announced “game, Federer” after Djokovic broke Koepfer in the third set.

Djokovic is bidding for a record 36th Masters crown in the Italian Open, being currently tied on 35 with Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the number two seed in Rome.

AFP



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Djokovic meets ATP chief Gaudenzi, says players body moving ahead



Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 16, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his second round match against Italy’s Salvatore Caruso Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani

September 17, 2020

(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic had a chat with ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi ahead of the Italian Open in Rome regarding his breakaway players body, the world number one said, reiterating that the new association could be a “positive addition” to the men’s Tour.

In a stunning move Djokovic stepped down as head of the ATP player council last month along with members Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey and announced the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

“I did meet Andrea. We had a player meeting and he did a presentation for us. It was about two days ago,” the Serb told reporters after moving into the third round in Rome with a win over Italian wildcard Salvatore Caruso.

“We stayed for about two and a half hours and I stayed all the way through. I had a chat with him as well privately. We don’t have any issues.

“We always had a very transparent and open relationship, Andrea and myself. We have known each other for many years. I respect him a lot.”

Djokovic has described the PTPA, which he said has already attracted the support of more than 200 players, as a platform for the views of the athletes that can co-exist with the ATP.

Tennis governing bodies have, however, opposed the move and called for unity now that the sport has resumed after a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We never said we want to boycott or separate ourselves from the ATP or anything like that. We want to work together in this ecosystem with ATP and everyone else,” Djokovic said.

“The Players Association is going forward, it’s very important for us to have a 100% players representation.”

Djokovic’s move has met opposition from Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal while acting player council president Kevin Anderson failed to see how the PTPA could co-exist with the ATP under the current structure.

Djokovic said he had exchanged greetings with Nadal in Rome but was yet to chat with the Spaniard about the PTPA.

“That’s not gonna happen during the tournament for sure,” Djokovic said. “Maybe there will be time for that next week before Roland Garros when we don’t have matches for maybe three-four days and maybe that will be a chance to do it.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Michael Perry)





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