ATP

Alcaraz downs Draper, Fritz stays in ATP Finals contention

By Sports Desk October 24, 2022

Carlos Alcaraz reached the last-16 stage of the Swiss Indoors Basel by beating Jack Draper in three sets on Monday.

The number one seed lost the opening set but responded to take the following two and win 3-6 6-2 7-5.

Alcaraz dominated at the net, winning 30 of 39 points to edge out his opponent after more than two hours.

Elsewhere, at the Vienna Open, fourth seed Taylor Fritz overcame Yoshihito Nishioka in another three-set thriller.

Nishioka took the opener, and Fritz was staring down the barrel in a second-set tie-break before trailing by a break in the decider.

However, the American won the final five games to advance 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-3.

The comeback boosted Fritz's chances of making the ATP Finals, trailing Felix Auger-Aliassime by 315 points in the Race to Turin.

Third seed Andrey Rublev found life far easier as he beat Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-1.

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  • Australian Open: Djokovic defends his father over pro-Putin group video – 'I can't be angry at him' Australian Open: Djokovic defends his father over pro-Putin group video – 'I can't be angry at him'

    Novak Djokovic insists his father did not intend to pose for pictures with supporters of Vladimir Putin and is hoping he will be able to attend Sunday's Australian Open final.

    Srdjan Djokovic was not present at Rod Laver Arena for his son's 7-5 6-1 6-2 win over Tommy Paul on Friday, which set up a final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    The 62-year-old announced in a statement ahead of the match that he was staying away to avoid creating any "disruption for my son or for the other player".

    It comes on the back of Srdjan being pictured standing next to a Russian flag with Putin's face on it, and a man whose t-shirt indicated support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    But Novak, who is chasing a 10th grand slam title in Australia and a record-equalling 22nd men's singles major overall, believes the situation has been taken out of context.

    "There was no intention," Djokovic said after beating Paul. "You're basically asking me a question like he did it intentionally, like he's not being careful about what he's doing. 

    "It can happen to many people what happened to him. He was passing through, made a photo, it has escalated. He was misused in this situation by this group of people. 

    "That's what happened. I can't be angry with him or upset because I can say it was not his fault. He went out to celebrate with my fans, and that's it. That's all that happened. 

    "After that, of course he felt bad because of me and he knew how that's going to reflect on me, the whole media pressure and everything that's happened in the last 48 hours.

    "But it is what it is. You accept it and you move on."

    Elaborating on the incident, he said: "The photo that he made, he was passing through. I heard what he said in the video. He said 'cheers'. 

    "Unfortunately some of the media has interpreted that in a really wrong way. I'm sorry that that has escalated so much. 

    "But I hope people understand that there was absolutely no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives or anything like that.

    "There was a lot of Serbian flags around. That's what he thought. He thought he was making photo with somebody from Serbia. That's it. He moved on."

    Asked if he expects his father to be back in the stadium for Sunday's final, Djokovic said: "Let's see. It wasn't pleasant not to have him in the box today. 

    "It's a decision that we made together. We just didn't know how things would play out, I guess.

    "But yeah, I hope to have him [there for the final]. I hope he's going to be feeling okay to be in the courts because I would like to have him there for the final."

    Djokovic argued with the umpire and appeared to completely lose focus as he let a 5-1 lead slip in the opening set, but he responded well en route to a straight-sets victory.

    And the Serbian, who has still never lost either a semi-final or a final at the first major of the season, admitted the controversy surrounding his father impacted his performance.

    "I saw, as everybody else saw, what happened yesterday," he said. "It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level. 

    "There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else. It has got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it until last night. 

    "My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during the 90s. As my father said, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. 

    "We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war."

  • Jamaica Davis Cup coach Mel Spence expects home court advantage to play big factor in Estonia tie Jamaica Davis Cup coach Mel Spence expects home court advantage to play big factor in Estonia tie

    Jamaican Davis Cup Coach/Captain Mel Spence is confident that home-court advantage will be enough for his team to see off a tough challenge from Estonia in their group two qualifying fixture at the Eric Bell National Tennis Centre from February 4-5.

    Estonia are currently ranked 59th in the world, ten spots ahead of the Jamaicans.

    “The Estonia team is very good. On paper they have some rankings that are higher than us but that’s just on paper,” Spence said at a press conference on Thursday.

    "We have the home court advantage and I think that’s going to push us through,” he added.

    Spence noted that the Jamaican team comprising Blaise Bicknell, Jacob Bicknell, Daniel Azar, Randy Phillips and John Chin has been performing well for a while.

    “I’m very confident in them. They’ve been playing very good tennis over the last six months to a year and they’ve gelled well. It’s basically the same team that we’ve had before. We have a tough opponent ahead of us but we’ve played tough opponents before and come out on top,” he said.

    While the team can’t be together until a few days before the tie, Spence noted the amount of preparation that some members of the team are getting by competing for their universities overseas.

    “Within their respective teams they’ll play matches against their other teammates but they just started the season so I’d say they play an average of two matches a week against other schools. That’s plenty of preparation for them.”

    21-year-old Blaise Bicknell currently represents the University of Tennessee while Chin, 19, represents Boise State University. Bicknell is currently the highest ranked Jamaican on the ATP Tour at 764.

     

     

  • Australian Open: Even Djokovic's 'vivid imagination' could not have dreamt up a 10th Melbourne final Australian Open: Even Djokovic's 'vivid imagination' could not have dreamt up a 10th Melbourne final

    Novak Djokovic said even his vivid imagination could not have dreamt up playing a 10th Australian Open final 15 years after winning his first at Melbourne Park.

    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. 

    "I respect him a lot, he's one of the most interesting guys off the court, with his interests and hairstyle. But it's all business on Sunday, let the best player win."

    Both players were involved in a slog at the start of the second set and when asked about his energy levels, Djokovic joked: "It's great, it's perfect, it's 110 per cent!"

    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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