Wimbledon: Stefanos Tsitsipas Falls To Frances Tiafoe In First Round

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first big name to exit Wimbledon on the first day of play Monday, losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to Frances Tiafoe of the United States. It was quite a contrast in fortunes for the Greek who only a fortnight ago lost in five sets to Novak Djokovic in the French Open final. Tsitsipas has now lost in the first round at Wimbledon on three occasions. Tiafoe, the world number 57, goes on to face either Canada’s Vasek Pospisil or Roberto Carballes Baena for a place in the last 32.

It was the first time in 12 attempts that 23-year-old Tiafoe had beaten a player ranked in the top five in the world.

“It sounds pretty damn good,” grinned Tiafoe when that was put to him on court after the match.

“This is definitely one of my best wins. I want to play the best players in world on this type of stage. This is what it’s all about. I am not sure how I would have performed if I had been on an outside court (he was on Court No 1). Playing on a show court makes a difference,” he added.

Tiafoe’s best showing at Wimbledon was reaching the third round in 2018. However, he believes beating someone of Tsitsipas’s class can be a game-changer.

“A lot of things have been going on for me lately. I wanted to do it (play tennis) the right way and I have not been close to where I want to be. I am very capable I know that but I definitely needed to beat a guy of this level,” he said.

An upset looked on the cards when Tiafoe broke Tstisipas for 5-4 in the second set. Despite the 22-year-old Greek having three break points the American battled back and even with a fall on the slippery surface held his nerve to take the set and go 2-0 up.

Tiafoe struck immediately in the third set breaking Tsitsipas for 1-0 and then came through a very long game when he was serving at 2-1.

Tsitsipas kept knocking at the door but failed to convert all seven break points with his last chance coming when he had two at 3-4.

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Again he failed to take them as Tiafoe rallied to go to deuce and held his serve and move to one game from victory.

A delicious return by Tiafoe on Tsitsipas’s first service at 5-3 teed him up and he romped through the game with a broad grin breaking out across his face as his dispirited Greek opponent trudged off court.

Alexander Zverev Beats Stefanos Tsitsipas To Win Acapulco Title

Second-seeded Alexander Zverev shook off a slow start to beat top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) Saturday and win the ATP hardcourt tournament in Acapulco, Mexico. Germany’s Zverev, ranked seventh in the world, had lost his last five matches against the world number five from Greece. Early on it seemed Zverev might be heading for another defeat as he dropped his first service game on the way to trailing 4-1 in the opening set. But he stepped it up to save three break points in the sixth game, holding serve to launch a run of five straight games that saw him pocket the set.

A tight second set saw Zverev gain the first break for a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve for the match.

Tsitsipas saved one match point on the way to regaining the break when Zverev double-faulted on break point — one of his eight double faults in the contest.

From there it was a fierce battle to the tiebreaker, Tsitsipas saving six break points to hold for a 6-5 lead and Zverev saving a set point on the way to making it 6-6.

Zverev converted his third match point to seal the victory and go one better than his runner-up finish to Australian Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco in 2019.

“This victory means a lot to me,” said Zverev as he donned the sombrero traditionally given to the winner.

He claimed his 14th ATP title and his first of 2021 and will be one of the men to beat when the Miami Masters starts next week in the absence of stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem.

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Tsitsipas, who was coming off semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and Rotterdam, was denied a sixth ATP trophy.

It was the first Acapulco final featuring the tournament’s top two seeds since 2015, when second-seeded David Ferrer beat top-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets.

Roger Federer “Pain Free” Ahead Of Qatar Open, Says Never Eyed Retirement

Roger Federersaid retirement was never really an option during his battle with injury, insisting Sunday the pain was “completely under control” ahead of his return to competitive tennis at this week’s Qatar Open. The 39-year-old hasn’t played a match since a semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January 2020 and acknowledged it was unusual for a player of his age to return after injury. “I know it’s on the rare side for a 40-year-old to come back after a year out,” he said at a media briefing in the Qatari capital Doha.

“The important thing is I’m pain free and injury free.

“I’m  very happy to be back playing a tournament — I never thought it was going to take this long.”

On his rivalry with Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, who this week overtakes his record of 310 weeks as world number one in men’s tennis, Federer said “it’s a great debate to have”.

“I think what Novak and Rafa have done of late is extraordinary – they’re not 25 either,” he said with a smile.

“Novak did it in Australia, Rafa did it at The French — they seem at their peak which is great for tennis and for the debate.

“My concern is my own health, my own game (more) than the record.

“The guys are unreal, I hope they keep on going and can do everything they possibly want — you want to leave the game with no regrets, and in that respect we all sleep very well at night.”

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam title winner, said that while “expectations are really low” for his campaign in Qatar, he hoped to surprise himself.

“Obviously I’m confident otherwise I wouldn’t put myself in this situation,” he said ahead of his first fixture which will be on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

“In a vision I see myself with the trophy,” he added laughing.

Federer said that the complications that followed his knee surgery motivated him to get back in form.

“What I knew is regardless of whether I came back or not, for my life I wanted to do this rehab anyhow,” he said.

“I feel there is still something — retirement was never really on the cards. I don’t mind doing rehab.”

Looking ahead, Federer said that he was hoping to be back to “100 percent” for Wimbledon in June but had not taken decisions on tournaments before then or the Olympics.

“It’s still building up to being fitter, better, faster,” he said.

“I’ll see about Dubai… then we’ll see about the clay court season.”

Federer said that while he was disappointed not to be returning to a full house because of Qatar’s strict coronavirus containment measures, he was happy to have some fans.

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“I’m just happy I’m playing again and excited to experience how it will feel,” he said.

“Nobody wants it to be this way (but) anything other than zero is good… you have some passionate people out there.”

Australian Open: Jessica Pegula Stuns Elina Svitolina To Make Quarter-Finals

American Jessica Pegula beat a top-10 player for the first time in her career Monday, shocking fifth seed Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open to make her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final. The unseeded 26-year-old has been in scintillating form at Melbourne Park and overwhelmed the Ukrainian 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a last-eight clash with either fellow American Jennifer Brady or Croat Donna Vekic. “I really admire how she is on the court, she just puts her head down and goes about her business and really always fights, so that’s definitely something I tried to do today,” Pegula said of Svitolina.

“I think with the nerves and the end of the first set being tough I got a little tired. But I feel good now.”

Ranked just 61 and playing only her second Australian Open, Pegula took out former world number one and 12th seed Victoria Azarenka in the opening round then dropped just four games in her next two matches.

Svitolina had won in straight-sets when the pair met at Abu Dhabi last month but it was Pegula who took the initiative Monday, creating three break points that were saved before a double fault on the fourth handed her a 4-3 lead.

She held serve to consolidate her advantage and take the set after some punishing baselines battles.

They traded breaks early in the second set before Svitolina held then broke again for 3-1 as Pegula temporarily lost focus.

But Pegula, who missed most of 2017 with a hip injury that forced her to consider retirement, bounced back in the decider and secured a crucial break in the fourth game with a backhand volley winner.

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A double fault allowed Svitolina back, but Pegula broke again for 5-3 and served out for her biggest win.

It was a disappointing end to a major again for Svitolina, who has fallen to players ranked outside the top 25 in the past three Grand Slams.

Stefanos Tsitsipas Learned Of Grandmother’s Death Minutes Before French Open Final vs Novak Djokovic

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas has revealed that he learned of his grandmother’s death just minutes before his epic five-set French Open final loss to Novak Djokovic on Sunday. In an Instagram post early Monday morning, the 22-year-old dedicated his first Grand Slam final to her after Djokovic overturned a two-set deficit to win 6-7 (6/8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and secure his 19th Grand Slam title. “Five minutes before entering the court my very beloved grandmother lost her battle with life. A wise woman whose faith in life, and willingness to give and provide can’t be compared to any other human being that I have ever met,” Tsitsipas wrote of the grandmother on his father’s side.

“It’s important to have more people like her in this world. Because people like her make you come alive. They make you dream.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Stefanos Tsitsipas (@stefanostsitsipas98)

Tsitsipas is widely seen as the natural heir to the sport’s “Big Three” of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but, after receiving the bad news, he said there are more important things in life than winning trophies.

“Life isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about enjoying every single moment in life whether that’s alone or with others,” he wrote.

“Living a meaningful life without misery and abjection. Lifting trophies and celebrating wins is something, but not everything.”

Exclusive: The Novak Djokovic Interview – 5 Big Quotes

Novak Djokovic spoke exclusively to NDTV and shared his thoughts on spending 311 weeks as No.1-ranked player on ATP rankings. Djokovic on Monday surpassed Roger Federer to set a new record of spending 311 weeks as World No. 1 on ATP rankings. He also spoke about how he took to tennis in a war-torn Serbia in the 1990s and how fellow contemporaries Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pushed him throughout his career to succeed and excel. Djokovic won his 18th Grand Slam title and his eighth Australian Open in Melbourne last month. Here are the five big quotes from the interview

1. On spending 311 weeks as World No. 1

“This achievement (to stand by tennis greats) is something that I dreamt of when I was a kid starting to play tennis. It’s a tribute to the love and commitment to the sport.”

2. On growing up in a war-torn Serbia in his formative years

“I think we all go through different hardships in our lives. My journey was not easy, but it made me stronger. We had two different wars in 1990s. Growing up in a war-torn country was a challenge. It definitely made me more hungry to represent my country – to send a message of peace and love and passion and joy.”

3. On the moment he realised he could be a tennis great

“Probably the first ‘aha’ moment when I realised I could be a major contender was my first Grand Slam title in the Australian Open.”

4. On Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – who’s the bigger rival?

“Those two guys (Federer and Nadal) are the ones who pushed me to be a better player. Both of these guys have been so special in my career. Hard to pick one of them, because I have always had to compete against both of them as they were so dominant and consistent.”

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5. On what Indian tennis players and kids can learn from Novak Djokovic

“Kids need to fall in love with the sport, otherwise they will feel burdened. I still feel the same excitement of holding the tennis racket as I did when I was 4-5 years old.”

Ashleigh Barty Reaches Miami Open Final As Hurbert Hurkacz Topples Stefanos Tsitsipas

World number one Ashleigh Barty bucked the upset trend at the Miami Open on Thursday, rolling into the women’s final as men’s second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was toppled by Hurbert Hurkacz. Australia’s Barty fired 27 winners in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to return to the title match of a tournament she won when it was last held in 2019. But Greece’s Tsitsipas was left trying to explain a “self-explosion” after he squandered a commanding lead in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final loss to 26th seed Hurkacz of Poland — the latest in a string of upsets that saw men’s top seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 3 Alexander Zverev bow out along with women’s No. 2 Naomi Osaka.

Tsitsipas admitted it was a crushing outcome in a tournament where the absences of superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his own recent solid form seemed to offer him a chance to shine.

“I felt like it was my opportunity,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel like there was more space for me to show something greater. It’s a very disappointing loss.

“It was there, everything was under control. And suddenly, I don’t know, self-explosion.”

Tsitsipas exited the tournament after a tense encounter that saw the 22-year-old Greek given a time violation after the second set for taking too long to change his shirt and headband.

The world number five was also reportedly involved in a tense exchange with officials before the match after refusing to share a golf cart with Hurkacz used to ferry players to the court.

There was no sign that incident had unsettled Tsitsipas early on, however, as he dominated a one-sided first set to win 6-2.

Tsitsipas then quickly broke Hurkacz at the start of the second on the way to a 2-0 lead.

But just when it appeared the match was heading for a brisk conclusion, Hurkacz finally found his range.

After staving off two break points at 15-40 in the third game, Hurkacz went on to hold and then broke to level the set at 2-2 — a lost opportunity that demoralized Tsitsipas.

Another break of serve in the eighth game put Hurkacz 5-3 up and he made no mistake on his next service game, clinching the set with an angled drop shot that left Tsitsipas scrambling to the net.

Barty bit by bit

The momentum was with Hurkacz in the third and he seized control with a break in the fifth game, which would ultimately prove decisive as the Pole closed out the win.

Tsitsipas’ exit leaves Russian fourth seed Andrey Rublev, who played Sebastian Korda later Thursday for a place in the semi-finals, as the highest men’s seed left in the prestigious ATP Masters and WTA tournament.

On the women’s side, Barty has gone from strength to strength since saving a match point in her opening victory over Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova.

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“Every single match I felt like I’ve done something a little bit better, and that’s all you can ask,” said Barty, who opted not to travel outside Australia last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and withdrew from tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March with a leg injury.

She received treatment for an abdominal issue between sets on Thursday, but vowed she would be “right as rain” for a title showdown on Saturday against either eighth-seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu or 23rd seed Maria Sakkari of Greece — who shocked Osaka in the quarter-finals.

Rafael Nadal Into 15th French Open Quarter-Final

Rafael Nadal reached the French Open quarter-finals for the 15th time on Monday with a straight sets win over Italy’s Jannik Sinner to stay on course for a 14th Roland Garros title and record-setting 21st Grand Slam. Third seed Nadal downed 19-year-old Sinner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 and goes on to face 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina who he defeated in the semi-finals last year. Nadal has now won 104 matches at Roland Garros against just two defeats since his 2005 debut while Monday’s victory extended his run of consecutive sets won in Paris to 35.

The 35-year-old Spanish world number three is seeded to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

World number one Djokovic defeated Sinner’s compatriot Lorenzo Musettiwho had to retire in the fifth set having stunned the Serb by taking the first two.

“I started well but was a little too defensive. I gave him the chance to come inside the court and play his best shots. That was a mistake,” said Nadal.

“I broke back at 5-4 in the first set and the match changed after that. I played at a great level,” he said.

Nadal had beaten Sinner in the quarter-finals in Paris in 2020 as well as at this year’s Italian Open.

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Sinner, the 18th seed, led 5-3 in the first set but that was as good as it got as Nadal raced away with 16 of the last 19 games.

He hit 31 winners with the Italian claiming just 10 points in the third set.

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic’s “Spider-Man Returns” Post Sparks Meme Fest On Twitter

Novak Djokovic, world number one tennis player, took to Twitter to share a picture of himself from the court in which he can be seen stretching full-length to reach for the ball during a Wimbledon match. Djokovic, while sharing the picture, asked his fans to come up with memes and they didn’t disappoint the Serbian star as the micro-blogging website was filled with hilarious memes in no time. “Spider-Man returns hahahaa let the memes begin #WimbledonThing,” Djokovic captioned the picture.

Spider-Man returns hahahaa let the memes begin #WimbledonThing pic.twitter.com/OkNQeirPJD

— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) June 30, 2021

Here are some of the funniest memes fans posted in reply to Djokovic’s tweet.

pic.twitter.com/Y0btOZqSe3

— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 30, 2021

#Novak #Spiderman #Novaksplit #Wimblendonthing pic.twitter.com/OKzYzVUnPo

— Divapati Prem (@DivapatiPrem) June 30, 2021

pic.twitter.com/uEhVG0bzkX

— Mahesh S Wali (@MaheshS_Wali) June 30, 2021

Spidernole! idemoooo! #NoleFam pic.twitter.com/W9rKHaF2jb

— Theo Milki (@Theo_Milki) June 30, 2021

Number 1, The Amazing Novak-Man, greetings from Chile !! @DjokerNole #WimbledonThing #Spiderman pic.twitter.com/qkgwAE8FG9

— David Gonzlez B. (@advertenciadis) June 30, 2021

Djokovic, who is bidding for his sixth Wimbledon title, came back from behind to begin his title defence with a four-set win over England’s Jack Draper.

After dropping the opening set against the 253rd-ranked Draper, Djokovic found his rhythm and won the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

On Wednesday, Djokovic was up against Kevin Anderson and although the five-time champion notched up a straight sets victory, he too had trouble on the Centre Court, falling five times during the second-round match.

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Anderson, the runner-up of Wimbledon 2018, was no match for Djokovic as the defending champion won the match 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

The Centre Court has been in the news after Serena Williams and Adrian Mannarino both slipped during their opening round matches and had to retire, ending their campaign.

Novak Djokovic Admits “Long Shot” To Beat Rafael Nadal At French Open

Novak Djokovic admitted Sunday that he’s “a long shot” to win Roland Garros where he would likely have to dethrone rival and 13-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal. Djokovic may be world number one, but it’s Nadal who is the undisputed king of clay in the French capital where he has lost just twice in 102 matches since 2005. On Sunday, Djokovic again felt the full, raw power of Nadal on clay as the Spaniard clinched a 10th Italian Open title with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win in the final. In the pair’s 57th meeting, the victory also took Nadal level with his Serb rival on 36 Masters 1000 titles.

“Going into Paris brings me a good sensation,” insisted Djokovic despite a roller-coaster clay court swing which yielded a round-of-16 exit in Monte Carlo and a semi-final loss on home ground in Belgrade.

Nadal, by comparison, has two titles in Rome and Barcelona but sobering quarter-final losses in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

“I actually now started to feel like I actually want to feel on clay,” added Djokovic.

“So I think if I manage to play the way I played last night (against Lorenzo Sonego in a three-set semi-final) and today, I think I have a good chance to go all the way in Paris.

“Of course it’s a long shot.”

Djokovic has 18 Grand Slam titles to his name — two behind the record of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer.

However, only one of those has been captured at Roland Garros, in 2016 when Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury after the second round.

Djokovic was swept aside by Nadal in the 2020 final.

Before that, he had lost three other finals in Paris, two also to Nadal and one against Stan Wawrinka.

However, Djokovic still has a place in the record books to target as he hopes to become the first man in over half a century, and just the third in history, to win all four majors more than once.

Also, he remains just one of two men to beat Nadal at the French Open, in the last-eight in 2015.

For Nadal, Roland Garros, which gets underway on May 30, means a chance for a 14th Paris title and record 21st Grand Slam crown.

“I really wanted this title,” Nadal, 34, said Sunday after winning his 10th Rome trophy.

“This had been one of the first important titles I won in my career. I’d won 10 in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros and really wanted this one too.”

Djokovic will play on home clay again in Belgrade the week before Roland Garros.

Nadal will head home to Mallorca to fine-tune his game.

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“I think I have been improving this week, but I need to keep going with that improvement,” he said Sunday.

“When you improve and you’re able to do it every day for a longer time, then you feel more confident and more safe.”