Dimitrov's struggles continue in Atlanta, Sock beaten on return

By Sports Desk July 23, 2019

Grigor Dimitrov's tough year continued with a first-round loss at the Atlanta Open, while Jack Sock's return ended in defeat on Tuesday.

Dimitrov has struggled throughout 2019 and the former world number three went down to qualifier Kevin King 7-5 6-4 at the ATP 250 event.

The Bulgarian now holds an 11-12 win-loss record this year, a run that has seen him drop to 53rd in the world.

Sock, making his first appearance since January after being sidelined due to a thumb injury, was edged by Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (11-9) 7-6 (7-5).

There were three seeds in action, with Frances Tiafoe suffering a surprise 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to Bernard Tomic.

Radu Albot, however, avoided an upset defeat, getting past Tennys Sandgren 6-4 7-6 (7-4), and Ugo Humbert was too good for Cole Gromley 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

Reilly Opelka sent down 17 aces in a 6-3 7-6 (7-1) victory over Alexander Bublik and Daniel Evans thrashed Jason Jung 6-1 6-1 inside an hour.

Matthew Ebden overcame Kamil Majchrzak 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 and qualifier Kwon Soon-woo edged Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-0.

Related items

  • Australian Open 2020: Novak Djokovic results and form ahead of first-round match with Jan-Lennard Struff Australian Open 2020: Novak Djokovic results and form ahead of first-round match with Jan-Lennard Struff

    Novak Djokovic has already shown fine form this year ahead of facing Jan-Lennard Struff at the Australian Open on Monday.

    A record seven-time champion in Melbourne, the Serbian will take some stopping once again at the year's first grand slam.

    Djokovic was strong during the back end of last year, aside from his ATP Finals failure, and has started 2020 impressively.

    We take a closer look at where the 16-time major champion is at ahead of his opener.

     

    Form and results

    Djokovic led Serbia to ATP Cup success to begin the year, and he did so in style. The 32-year-old recorded singles wins over Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev during that run, while also beating Denis Shapovalov, Gael Monfils, Kevin Anderson and Christian Garin. If anyone was doubting he would be hard to beat in Australia, those questions were quickly answered.

    Awaiting him in the first round is Struff, who would appear one of the trickier tasks given the German is ranked 37th in the world. Struff enjoyed a strong 2019 that included reaching semi-finals in Auckland and Stuttgart and the last eight in Barcelona and Basel, while he stunned Alexander Zverev at Indian Wells. However, Djokovic has enjoyed two straight-sets wins over Struff in their previous two meetings, including a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory at the French Open last year.

    Draw

    Djokovic should encounter few early problems. Wildcard Tatsuma Ito or lucky loser Prajnesh Gunneswaran await if he gets past Struff, while 30th seed Dan Evans could be his third-round opponent.

    What he said

    "Milestones are definitely a motivation, I think. At the same time they make me proud of what I have achieved in my career. They give even more significance to why I'm competing in professional tennis still. But at the same time, there's some other higher goals that I have kind of as a driving force I think more than any other milestone. But they all are important."

  • Australian Open 2020: Changing of the guard 'inevitable' says Djokovic Australian Open 2020: Changing of the guard 'inevitable' says Djokovic

    Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic said a changing of the guard is "inevitable" as the next generation of tennis players close the gap on the "Big Three".

    Djokovic (16), Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19) have dominated the ATP Tour circuit, combining for 55 grand slam titles and numerous other trophies.

    While Djokovic, Federer and Nadal continue to lead the way and set the standard despite their advancing years, the world number two knows the younger generation will soon have their day.

    As seven-time Australian Open champion Djokovic prepares for Monday's opener against Jan-Lennard Struff in Melbourne, the Serb star told reporters: "They're coming closer and closer. It's obvious.

    "[Daniil] Medvedev had a great fight with Rafa in the last Grand Slam in US Open of last season. [Stefanos] Tsitsipas played semis here last year. Dominic Thiem twice finals in French Open. They're very, very close. They're literally one set away. On a given day, in the very near future, I think that can happen. It's going to happen. It's inevitable.

    "What they're missing? I don't think they are missing too much, to be honest. I think they possess very powerful games that require a lot of skills, and they have those skills. They have put in the hours and dedicated themselves on and off the court. I think a lot of those next generation players working very hard, being very professional. That's a good sign because that's one of the precursors.

    "But at the same time to win a slam and also to kind of be consistently on the top level for many years, it takes I think a player to gain that mental and emotional maturity and experience to understand his own strengths, to kind of fight his own fears, to really be able to maintain that level for a long time. Rafa, Roger, and I, obviously because of the past 10,15 years, we know what we need to do mentally also in this particular situation. That gives us probably a little bit of an edge.

    "Everything has to kind of intertwine and everything has to be, I guess, in balance. When I say 'everything' I mean mental, physical, emotional. Then of course you need to have luck on that day and for the stars to align to win a Grand Slam trophy. They're very close. I don't think that's miles, miles away maybe as it was some years ago. I think they are definitely hungry. They are challenging. They're knocking on the door."

    Djokovic heads into his title defence on the back of a memorable but gruelling ATP Cup campaign in Australia as Serbia triumphed.

    On his preparations, the second seed added: "I did not have such an intensive couple of weeks the year before the Australian Open for many years. I did have participation in Doha tournament, Hopman Cup before, everything.

    "It was a lot of physical and emotional energy being spent in the ATP Cup… We as a team won the title, which was definitely one of the highlights of my career. It was phenomenal couple of weeks and great lead up to Australian Open. But it did take a lot out of me. I did adjust my training sessions towards that, so I had a little bit more of recuperation rather than just stepping on accelerator a little bit more."

  • Australian Open 2020: Barty grounded amid heightened expectations in pursuit of home slam Australian Open 2020: Barty grounded amid heightened expectations in pursuit of home slam

    After a quarter-final run at the 2019 Australian Open, a lot has changed for Ashleigh Barty but it is business as usual for the world number one in Melbourne.

    Australian star Barty arrives at Melbourne Park for her home grand slam as the WTA Tour's top-ranked player and the reigning French Open and WTA Finals champion.

    Barty became the first Australian to win the Roland Garros singles title since Margaret Court in 1973 and the first Australian to claim a major singles title since Sam Stosur's 2011 US Open triumph.

    Her memorable 2019 exploits have heightened expectations in Melbourne, where all eyes are on the top seed ahead of her opening match against Lesia Tsurenko.

    However, Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer told Omnisport: "There's more expectations on her, but she knows she has to go out there and compete every day, do her best. The result takes care of itself. If she's able to do that and keep focused on that stuff, she'll do some damage."

    "The pre-season was pretty strong," Tyzzer said. "Ash put a lot of effort it. She's particularly fussy and a bit of a perfectionist anyway, so it kept her on edge a bit more knowing 'okay well I've got a responsibility here as well'.

    "It's been good. We know what's coming but we will treat everything pretty much the same with regard to how we approach her matches."

    "Slams are so hard to win over the two weeks, being healthy and playing well all the time," he continued. "Her expectations are that every match is going to be tough. She's pretty ready for the battle, and hopefully she can go deep into the tournament."

    Barty is fresh off a 57-13 season on the WTA Tour – a year which yielded four titles from six finals in Miami, Paris, Birmingham and Shenzhen.

    The 23-year-old claimed the biggest winner's cheque in tennis history after collecting $4.42million thanks to her WTA Finals victory over Elina Svitolina in November.

    "I think her consistent level of play," Tyzzer said when asked about anything specific that helped Barty make such an impact last year. "There weren't many ups or downs. There weren't really super highs or big drop offs. I felt like over the 12 months her level was very consistent.

    "There were a few times where she was tired after long periods of time. We could see that kind of stuff coming, so we controlled that fairly well with breaks and then build up again to the next tournament block. Her ability to play at a good level throughout the whole year was probably the biggest factor, I know there were other areas."

    Barty's success saw Tyzzer – who has worked with the Queenslander since she returned to the sport in 2016 after a cricket stint – recognised as the WTA Coach of the Year.

    But Tyzzer and countrywoman Barty are refusing to stand still in pursuit of further glory.

    "There's certainly areas where she can get better. We've been working through the summer on her transitioning, try to get into the net more and get in behind her good shots. She sees it well in doubles but probably doesn't see it as well in singles yet. So that's probably one of the areas I'd like her to spend time on," he added.

    "You can never sit still in the sport. If you sort of stop and feel like you've done everything and you're not going to improve then someone else is going to run over the top of you pretty quickly."

    "We're doing a lot more work on her strength and speed, movement around the court," Tyzzer said. "Putting in a lot of time on returning, trying to make that better as well. As a coach, you're always looking for improvements, but you also have to acknowledge the good stuff and continue to encourage what she's done well. She's put good results together, so you don't want to make drastic changes just for the sake of changing.  You have to be careful with that stuff too."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.