Novak Djokovic

Nadal vs. Djokovic – Arguably The Greatest Rivalry In Tennis History

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have, arguably, the greatest rivalry in the history of tennis.

No two men have faced each other more in pro tennis than these two tennis titans.

Their meeting in the final of the 2019 Australian Open was their 53rd career professional match, with Djokovic holding the slight lead 28-25 in the head-to-head. These two legends have played in Grand Slam quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, at ATP Masters 1000 Series events, ATP 500 level events, the Olympics and in Davis Cup. Look at their complete head-to-head analysis, it’s amazing.

In Grand Slam events, the biggest stage in the tennis betting world, Nadal holds the head-to-head edge nine wins against six losses to Djokovic. Nadal won six of these Grand Slam confrontations on the clay at the French Open, although Djokovic did hand Nadal one of his two career Roland Garros losses in the quarterfinals of the event in 2015. Their first career meeting came at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, Nadal winning by a 6-4, 6-4, retire scoreline as Djokovic was forced to quit with a back injury.

On hard courts at Grand Slams, Djokovic’s decisive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win in the 2019 Australian Open final gave him a 3-2 head-to-head advantage. Nadal won his two Grand Slam hard court matches with Djokovic at the US Open – in the 2013 final by a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 margin and also in the 2010 final by a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 margin. Djokovic won the 2011 U.S. Open final over Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 and also in the epic 2013 Australian Open final by a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in what tennis historian and “Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book author Steve Flink named the No. 7 match in the history of the sport.

Indian Wells Kicks Off 30th Year of ATP Masters 1000 Tennis

The 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California ushers in the 30th year of the ATP Tour branding these elite events as “Masters 1000” events. Remember when they were called “The Super Nine?”
Indian Wells is one of seven of these such events that have been part of this elite status since the start of the modern-day ATP Tour in 1990, along with Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati and Paris.

Both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are vying for a record-breaking sixth Indian Wells title and Djokovic will also be looking to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles. Nadal also seeks a sixth trophy overall in the desert, but he has only won three singles at Indian Wells to go with two doubles titles.

Last March in Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic lost his opener to 109th-ranked qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan. Djokovic returns in 2019 as the world No. 1 and champion of the last three major tournaments and two of the last three ATP Masters 1000 events. Djokovic has not played since winning his seventh Australian Open title on January 27.

Federer held three championship points to make it six titles in Indian Wells before losing to Juan Martin del Potro in 2018. Federer enters the event on a hot streak after winning the 100th title of his career in Dubai on March 2 defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. Federer has defeated 50 different opponents for his 100 titles — 25 of whom are now retired. A fascinating stat regarding Federer and his chief rival Nadal – this marks the first time these two are playing at the same ATP Tour event (non Grand Slam event) for the first time since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Federer is on a five-match win streak against Nadal, including a 6-2, 6-3 victory at 2017 Indian Wells. The two rivals could meet in the semi-finals on 16 March.

Chris Kermode ATP Exit Is The Latest Chaotic Move In Men’s Pro Tennis

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

At this point, men’s tennis seems to be a cacophony of chaos. To add to it, the hard-pressing matters are not only being played out both prominently but look to be raging just as intensely within the sport’s inner recesses. The problem is, however, that neither there is a way to pinpoint the origins of this problem nor there is an effective solution in sight.

The ousting of Chris Kermode as Association of Tennis Professionals’ Chief Executive Officer therefore has several connotations as it has various implications. But the one question it raises, first and foremost, is why now when the sport is said to be ostentatiously flourishing? In that respect, the whole “he said-he said-they said” turn of events that is being played out in the aftermath of the ATP Board Meeting in Indian Wells does not enumerate much beyond the offering of reasons as to why things happened the way they did.

So what purpose does the currently ongoing clamouring – of trying to pin the blame on Novak Djokovic and other members of the Player Council and/or on the Player Representatives – serve? For, despite the earnestness of everyone involved – both first-hand and as onlookers into the matter – there are no answers available even as pertinent scepticisms – read, vis-à-vis Justin Gimelstob’s controversial presence in the decision-making – have abounded.

The one aspect that needs to be peered into and pored over deeply, but which has been quieted down, is where does men’s tennis go from here? At the same time, the stakeholders – be it players or those responsible for its managerial side – need to introspect on what can only be considered as a failing of the sport despite its much-bandied-about successes. In isolation, this is bad news. But it worsens when juxtaposed with the mess the International Tennis Federation has inflicted upon itself.

The open rebellion dotting the ITF’s periphery by several national tennis boards, its members and (deprived) players following its Transition Tour muddle should have cautioned the ATP in a timely manner. Yet, even as the ITF finds it difficult to justify its recent actions, which have seen an unequal bartering of the Davis Cup to a soccer player, the returns from which – when filtered to its core – are non-existent to the tournament’s growth and continuity, the ATP did as it felt right.

But in trying to do what was right, the ATP came across as short-sighted, imposing restrictions on the entirety of the men’s game.

Beyond 2019, following the end of Kermode’s term, men’s tennis will have to start over from scratch. The Briton’s business acumen – giving men’s tennis widespread marketability and in turn, leading to enhanced profitability – would be a thing of the past. In the sport’s annals, it would not be a pause but a definite stopping point.
Then, whoever takes over from Kermode, will not only have the onus of living up to the standards set by his predecessor (while attempting to better it) but will also need to live up to the expectations of these stakeholders of the domain who had insisted on making the change, in the first place. Just as along those of whom – including Djokovic – who spoke about administrative changes being necessary will also be at the receiving end of scrutiny, with enquiries flowing about whether the so-called alterations netted positive results.

Djokovic is well-within his rights now to decline commenting on what his personal choice was in the voting to truncate Kermode’s role. But at that unspecified point in the future – if it does come to pass – if the changes were not to work, him and the others who were a part of the present-day decision-making would need to justify themselves as to whether their good intentions came through for the lowest-ranked player as much as for those in the top-tier. It may also be the questions that popped up in the Chris Kermode’s non-continuing-as-the-CEO melee are answered, one way or another.

Australian Open Proves There Is Still A Ways To Go For The “Changing Of The Guard”

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

As the 2019 Australian Open concludes, one of the biggest upsets of the tournament was that of Roger Federer. The two-time defending champion’s fourth-round defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas set the ball rolling anew about changing of the guard and how Federer’s – and his other peers’ – time had come to an end.

Yet, as it turned out in the days after Federer’s upset, the old guard remained as they were – with Novak Djokovic defeating Rafael Nadal for the men’s title – even as the youngsters kept dropping off, one-by-one as the draw narrowed further. Until eventually, the two others who reached the penultimate stage of the tournament – Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lucas Pouille – got quite a lesson as to how they were expected to play at that point.

The concept of changing of the guard, too, has taken a lunging step backwards at this point. To that end, it is following the usual chain of events that usually transpire in an event. Each time that one among Federer, Nadal and Djokovic loses – and a Next Gen player wins – in a tournament, or a tournament; the narrative repeats itself. But, the moment any of them wins an event, the younger players get relegated to the backburner even as the legendary status of these players is cemented further. As such, suffice to say, the idea that there is a change of guard happening in the upper echelons of the game will soon reappear as the season progresses from beyond the Australian swing. And, at this point, it has honestly begun to get slightly tiresome.

All this, however, is not to say that the youngsters are not making their way through. But that there is an attempt to conflate expectations and reality, without considering the time factor needed to merge the two into a single entity. For example: in the last few years, Alexander Zverev has been a steady presence in the top ATP rankings with a slew of titles backing his credentials. Yet, his results in the majors have been disappointing – although not for want of trying.

Much as Zverev himself ponders about the dichotomy of his results otherwise in the ATP events and at the majors, for the numerous others who have directed their scrutiny at him, the takeaway ought to be that not keep harping on it and rather, let him figure it out for himself with his team. The same case can be made for Hyeon Chung – who after a surprisingly great run at the 2018 Australian Open has been laid low with injuries and inconsistent performances – and more recently, for Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In case of the Greek, the highs after his win over Federer – and Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-final – came cascading down in his lopsided 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 semi-final loss to Nadal. In a curious admission about the result, Tsitsipas observed in the post-match press conference, “I don’t know, I feel very strange. I feel happy with my performance in this tournament, but at the same time I feel disappointed. I feel like I could do a bit better today. I don’t know. That’s how I felt. But it’s a very, very weird feeling. Almost felt like just couldn’t play better. I don’t know.”

The rest of his press conference followed along the same lines with Tsitsipas outlining Nadal’s game-plan during the match and his inability to deal with the tactics employed. As far as analysis went, it was needed. But considering that Tsitsipas had faced Nadal twice before – as recently as in 2018 – and had lost both matches to him, he needed to have a strategy worked out to cover all his problematic areas against the Spaniard. Most importantly, as befitting the ranks of a player ushering in a new era, he needed to adjust his strategy right there, on the court, when the ones he had been employing were not working effectively against Nadal.

At the moment, this is the biggest differentiator between these multiple-time champions and the new players. The older players’ acumen in manipulating their tactics to put their opponents on the back-foot, then, is not something that can be gained in a match or two. It takes years to put together and even then, it is not perfect at all times.
But, in case of losses, it is the experience-wrought capability to reset their games that has made them so dominant, year-on-year and season-after-season. Even for Federer, despite his loss which has not been his first, and which will not be his last either.

Alexander Zverev Shocks Novak Djokovic To Win ATP Finals In London

Alexander Zverev became the youngest champion ever at the year-end ATP Finals in a decade with his comprehensive upset of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

The title marked the biggest career win for the 21-year-old German, who began working with tennis legend Ivan Lendl in late August.

Zverev became the youngest player to win at the ATP’s season finale since Djokovic in 2008. He was the first German to win the title since Boris Becker in 1995.

“This is the biggest title of my career so far. This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only,” Zverev said. “How I played today, how I won it, for me it’s just amazing.”

One year ago, Zverev made his debut at elite eight-player event in London, falling short of reaching the semifinals. The 10-time ATP tournament title champion beat six-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets on Saturday in the semifinals. It’s the first time a player has beaten both Djokovic and Federer at the same Nitto ATP Finals. Zverev’s the first player to beat the Top 2 seeds in the semifinals and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.

“It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and final,” Zverev said. “It means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now.”

ATP, Tennis Australia Officially Launch ATP Cup

The ATP and Tennis Australia have officially unveiled the ATP Cup – a new team competition to kickstart the men’s tennis season from 2020. The tournament, which was announced during the Nitto ATP Finals in London, will be played across three Australian cities over ten days in the lead up to the Australian Open and will feature teams from 24 countries.

World No. 1 and President of the ATP Player Council Novak Djokovic was among the players who joined ATP Executive Chairman & President Chris Kermode and Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, to reveal the details of the competition, which has been shaped through extensive consultation over several years with players, tournament organisers and sponsors. The launch also revealed the ATP Cup’s new brand identity and a promotional video to bring the plans to life.

The event sees the return of an ATP team competition into the calendar for the first time since the ATP World Team Cup, which was held in Dusseldorf from 1978-2012.

The move represents the latest initiative by ATP to innovate in the sport, as well as providing increased earning opportunities for its players, and introducing new fans to the game. The tournament will ensure every season starts with an event with a truly global profile, giving players the chance to see their nation crowned the best in the world. The 2020 ATP Cup will offer US$15 million in prize money and up to 750 ATP Rankings points to the winners.

Djokovic, who finished 2018 as year-end No.1 for a fifth time, stated: “I like that it’s owned by ATP, by the players, and that we have ranking points, and it’s going to be the best way to kick start the season. Australia is a country that has a Grand Slam, that nurtures tennis tradition. More than 90 per cent of the time we’re playing as individuals and we don’t have too many team events. This is going to bring together a lot of nations and for me personally it will be a very nice and proud moment to represent my country.”

Kermode added: “This new event fits perfectly with our strategy to innovate and look towards the future. We know from our extensive discussions with the players that the ATP Cup will provide a great way for them to open their season – bringing together the world’s best for a major team event that compliments existing scheduling, provides highly-coveted ATP ranking points and clearly links to the Australian Open. The first week of the season is when the players want to play and that’s why the tournament has their strong support. By staging the event with Tennis Australia, which is renowned for its experience as an outstanding event promoter, we know that the tournament will be a great success from year one.”

Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley added: “This is an amazing opportunity, in close collaboration with the players and the tour, to deliver a globally impactful event that further elevates the sport and the fan interest in it.

“We want to keep growing tennis, give the players an environment where they can perform to the best of their abilities and then ensure they are appropriately appreciated and rewarded. This event will help us all achieve that while connecting with new generations of tennis fans. It will provide a new source of inspiration for young athletes to choose our sport.”

The format of the ATP Cup will see nations split into six groups, with eight teams emerging from the round-robin stage to compete in the knockout phase until only one team is left standing. There will be up to five players in each team, with ties comprising two singles matches and one doubles match. The criteria for entry into the ATP Cup will be based off the ATP Ranking of the No. 1 singles player from each country.

Venue announcements will be made in due course.

About The ATP
The ATP is the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour. With 64 tournaments in 31 countries, the ATP World Tour showcases the finest male athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues. From Australia to Europe and the Americas to Asia, the stars of the 2018 ATP World Tour will battle for prestigious titles and ATP Rankings points at ATP World Tour Masters 1000, 500 and 250 events, as well as Grand Slams (non ATP events). At the end of the season only the world’s top 8 qualified singles players and doubles teams will qualify to compete for the last title of the season at the Nitto ATP Finals. Held at The O2 in London, the event will officially crown the 2018 ATP World Tour No. 1. For more information, please visit www.ATPWorldTour.com.

About Tennis Australia
Tennis Australia is the governing body of tennis in Australia, promoting and facilitating participation in tennis at all levels, and also conducts national and international tournaments including the Australian Open. Visit tennis.com.au for more information.

Paris Is Turning Into Novak Djokovic’s Kind of Town

Paris is a special town for Novak Djokovic.

It is the scene of perhaps his greatest triumph in pro tennis when he won the 2016 French Open to finally complete his career Grand Slam –and his “Novak Slam” where he held all four major titles at the same time, a feat that had not been achieved since 1969 by Rod Laver.

Since Djokovic reached his career height at Roland Garros in 2016, he struggled with injuries, burnout and off-court issues, but amazingly rebounded to the top of the game after his ranking dropped to No. 22 in May of this year. Now, Paris is the scene of another major career achievement for the Serbian maestro.

The Rolex Paris Masters event in Paris, the second-to-last ATP event of the year, marks the event where Djokovic returns to the No. 1 ranking, becoming the the first player to have his ranking move to No. 1 after being ranked outside of the top 20. Djokivic has won this prestigious indoor event four times – in 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – and is trending upward in his return to the No. 1 ranking. Based on his current form, and storied history at the event, Djokovic is the clear tennis betting favorite to win a fifth Rolex Paris Masters title.

Roger Federer, who faces Djokovic in a blockbuster semifinal, will look to win for the second straight week after winning the title in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland the previous week. A win in Paris would mark his 100th career singles title, second to only Jimmy Connors and his 109 titles on the men’s all-time list. In 2011, Federer won his 70th career singles title in Paris, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

While most eyes will be on Djokovic and Federer, the Rolex Paris Masters is the site of some unpredictable results and the other semifinalists in the top half, Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov, could also surprise. Last year at the event, Jack Sock of the United States captured the title beating another Serb, Filip Krajinovic, in the final.

Photo Essay: March toward Destiny

In the waning days of August, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro began a long, hot, exhausting trek toward the final of the US Open, where they would ultimately meet in a battle of veteran wills. There, Djokovic would look for his 14th Grand Slam singles title, del Potro his second. In this photo essay, tennis writer and photographer Chris Nicholson illustrates their paths to destiny.

Photos by Chris Nicholson, author of Photographing Tennis. Follow Chris’ US Open photos on Instagram (@ShootingTennis).

Can Novak Djokovic Win Another Wimbledon – U.S. Open Double?

Novak Djokovic entered Wimbledon this year having not won a tournament in a year. Now he could be on the verge of sweeping the two biggest titles in tennis.

Djokovic cemented his return to the top of the tennis world with his unexpected victory at Wimbledon in July, edging Rafael Nadal in an epic five-set semifinal and a straight-set final-round win over Kevin Anderson.

Now, Djokovic is on the verge of becoming only the second man in the Open era to win the Wimbledon and U.S. Open summer double more than twice, joining Roger Federer, who has turned the trick four times in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Djokovic swept Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011 and also in 2015.

Following Wimbledon, Djokovic also won the title in Cincinnati – to complete his career sweep of all nine Masters Series titles – defeating Roger Federer in the final. Despite his No. 6 seeding in New York, his win at Wimbledon and in Cincinnati see him trending upward in the tennis betting odds at the U.S. Open. After starting the year with a 6-6 record, he is now healthy and confident and inspired to win more titles and catch up to his rivals Federer (20) and Nadal (17) in the all-time major singles titles rankings.

Djokovic ended a career-long 54-week title drought with his fourth Wimbledon title and 13th major title overall. With a ranking of No. 21 at Wimbledon, he became the lowest-ranked major champion since No. 44 Gaston Gaudio at 2004 Roland Garros. His win continued the men’s trend of major men’s titles being won by primarily Federer, Nadal and Djokovic over the last ten years.

Djokovic’s only struggles en route to the semifinals were with the high temperatures and humidity. With cooler weather coming to New York City for the event’s finale, Djokovic, who often struggles in oppressive heat, will be much more comfortable.

Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens Win Western & Southern Open Titles

Novak Djokovic did what no player has ever done before, winning his first title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to complete the ‘Career Golden Masters,’ by winning all nine ATP Masters 1000 events.

Djokovic took down Roger Federer, 6-4, 6-4, on Sunday, to improve to 24-22 in their storied rivalry and deny Federer his 99th career title and eighth in Cincinnati. The two hadn’t played since the 2016 Australian Open, and Djokovic’s latest triumph gives him 31 career ATP Masters 1000 titles, two shy of all-time leader Rafael Nadal’s 33.

In the women’s championship, Kiki Bertens took down No. 1 Simona Halep, 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2, to win the biggest of her six career WTA titles and her first at a hard-court event. Bertens saved a match point in the second-set tiebreak to notch her 10th win over a Top 10-ranked opponent this year and improve her record in North America to 15-3 this year. Twenty-year-old Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka also had an impressive week, upending three seeded players to reach the semifinals.

The US Open Series concludes this week with the women’s Connecticut Open in New Haven and the men’s Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina. The Connecticut Open field features five Top-10 players, as well as Americans CoCo Vandeweghe and Danielle Collins. Americans in Winston-Salem include Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Taylor Fritz, Ryan Harrison and Tennys Sandgren.

ESPN’s family of networks will carry weeklong coverage from both tournaments. Early-round matches from New Haven and Winston-Salem will be delivered live on ESPN3 and stream live on the ESPN app. ESPN2 will pick up its coverage with Friday’s semifinals and will air Saturday’s finals, at 3 p.m. (New Haven) and 5 p.m. (Winston-Salem). See the full summer TV schedule here.