ATP

Medvedev growing in confidence on grass after Mallorca progress

By Sports Desk June 24, 2021

Daniil Medvedev is set for just the third grass-court semi-final of his ATP Tour career at the Mallorca Championships.

Medvedev, who has reached two hard-court grand slam finals, as well as winning last year's ATP Finals, has never been beyond the last four on grass. He has only done so once on clay.

The Russian will get another chance on Friday, though, against Pablo Carreno Busta.

That is his reward for beating Casper Ruud, who Medvedev acknowledged likely also does not favour the grass season.

"I don't think grass is his best surface, but in the first set he was playing top level and I couldn't get any break points," Medvedev said after beating Ruud 7-5 6-1. 

"But as soon as he started serving a bit worse and making some errors, I tried to use it as fast as I could.

"It was important to win the first set and not in a tie-break, this gives me a boost of confidence."

Carreno Busta defeated Jordan Thompson in straight sets but was not followed into the semis by either of the other Spaniards in action.

Third seed Roberto Bautista Agut was toppled by Sam Querrey, as Feliciano Lopez lost to Adrian Mannarino.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, there is an Australian in each semi-final after wins for Alex de Minaur and Max Purcell.

De Minaur wore down Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4 and now faces Kwon Soon-woo, who was similarly comfortable against Ilya Ivashka.

Purcell battled past Andreas Seppi, recovering from a tough second set in which he succumbed 6-1, but must now face another Italian.

Third seed Lorenzo Sonego secured his semis spot by blasting past Alexander Bublik 6-1 7-5.

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    The Serbian great has the chance to win a record-equalling 22nd grand slam for a male player after hammering Tommy Paul 7-5 6-1 6-2 – a scoreline that would have been even more commanding had Djokovic not endured a first-set blip from 5-1 up.

    Djokovic is already a nine-time singles champion in Melbourne, with his first triumph coming back in 2008, and only Stefanos Tsitsipas stands in his way of a 10th.

    "I have a pretty vivid and strong imagination, but even I don't think I imagined it would turn out this way," he said during his on-court interview on Rod Laver Arena.

    "Super blessed and grateful, I'm trying to cherish and marvel in every moment. Without my family, without my team these things wouldn't be possible. 

    "You're by yourself, all eyes are on you, you take responsibility, you take credit, but you have to give credit where it's due and that's to the team who live with me day by day in good and bad moments. This is as much their success as it is mine."

    Only one other male player has won double-digit titles at a single slam, that being Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

    Tsitsipas is a player Djokovic has faced in a major final before, defeating the Greek at the 2021 French Open showpiece in a match where he had to come from sets down.

    "I won that match, so my recollections are very positive!" Djokovic added to a laugh.

    "I came from two sets to love down, I think it was the first time I came down from two sets down in a slam final. It was his first slam final, a really physical and emotional battle. It always is with Stefanos. 

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    He then added: "Look, of course you're not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament that's for sure.

    "We put a lot of effort in the off season weeks on our fitness, to be in good enough condition to play best-of-five sets."

    Sunday's victor will also ascend to the top of the ATP rankings, something Djokovic concedes does add extra spice.

    "Of course it does, winning grand slams and being number one are the two biggest peaks you can climb as a tennis player," he said. "Let's see what happens."

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    Novak Djokovic limped into his 10th Australian Open final with a record-breaking 27th consecutive win in Melbourne against Tommy Paul on Friday.

    Djokovic, who has never lost either a semi-final or a final at the first major of the season, came through 7-5 6-1 6-2 to eclipse the Andre Agassi win streak he had tied with a last-eight defeat of Andrey Rublev.

    Despite a similar scoreline, however, this was not quite as straightforward as that prior match – particularly in a first set the nine-time champion threatened to throw away.

    Djokovic also appeared to be suffering again with the hamstring injury that hampered his preparation for the tournament, but he now needs to come through just one more match, against Stefanos Tsitsipas, to add another title.

    The semi ended as it started, with Djokovic in control, yet there was a blip when he looked to be coasting through the opener.

    Having just passed up his first set point, Djokovic confronted the umpire when he was not allowed time to take a towel and appeared to lose his focus, allowing Paul to win the next seven points en route to consecutive breaks – the second clinched with a stunning 30-stroke rally.

    Finally, with the set level, Djokovic regained some composure and soon enough took a long-awaited second set point before cupping his ear to the Melbourne crowd and being greeted with jeers in return.

    It quickly became clear Paul had missed his chance as Djokovic cruised, his primary foe now that troublesome injury.

    After stretching out his leg during the first-set collapse, the Serbian appeared in discomfort throughout a dominant second, asking for ice at 5-0 up ahead of Paul's sole hold in the set.

    That ailment did not prove enough to derail Djokovic, though, as the third set followed a similar theme in an ultimately commanding semi success.

    Data Slam: Djokovic closing on career-best streak

    Now the sole owner of the longest Open Era winning streak in the main draw of the men's singles tournament at the Australian Open, Djokovic will match his best run at any grand slam if he beats Tsitsipas, having claimed 28 straight victories at Wimbledon.

    Only Roger Federer (40 at the US Open and 40 at Wimbledon) and Bjorn Borg (41 at Wimbledon and 28 at the French Open) have previously had 27-match win sequences at two different majors.

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Djokovic – 12/5
    Paul – 4/0

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Djokovic – 31/39
    Paul – 18/32

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Djokovic – 7/11
    Paul – 2/9

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