Relentless Djokovic sends Serbia-Croatia semi-final to a decider with Cilic win

Novak Djokovic claimed a 19th straight win in singles at the Davis Cup as he beat Marin Cilic 6-4 6-2 to send Serbia’s semi-final against Croatia to a deciding doubles rubber.

The world number one will pair up with Nikola Cacic to face off against world number one doubles partnership Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic for a place in the final against either the Russian Tennis Federation or Germany.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has only ever lost one Davis Cup singles match – against Olivier Rochus on clay back in 2005 – and handled a pressure situation against a fired up Cilic after Borna Gojo had beaten Dusan Lajovic in three sets earlier in the day.

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2014 US Open winner Cilic fashioned six break points in the opening set and a further two in the second, but was unable to convert against Djokovic, who has now not been broken in matches against Dennis Novak, Jan-Lennard Struff or Alexander Bublik at this year’s event.

Djokovic, contrastingly, was brutally efficient when the opportunity presented itself, sealing the decisive break in game nine of the first set from 0-40 down and securing an early double break in the second to race away from the 33-year-old Cilic and send the match to a decider.

“It was always going to be a tough match,” said Djokovic afterwards.

It was a very nervy start from both of us and we both knew the significance of the match!

Earlier, world number 279 Borna Gojo held his nerve to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give Croatia a 1-0 advantage.

The importance of this opening rubber made it a high-pressure, low quality affair as both players struggled to put together any fluid tennis but it was 23-year-old Gojo who managed to settle better to give his country the advantage.

The tie represented the first time that the pair had met, and Gojo – buoyed perhaps by impressive results against Italy’s world number 21 Lorenzo Sonego and Australia’s world number 61 Alexei Popyrin earlier in the competition – was in the ascendancy from the off and was two points away from a 5-1 advantage in the first. However, after a spectacular collapse, 17 of the final 18 points went Lajovic’s way as the world number 33 gave Serbia the early initiative.

The Croatian finished the first set with 19 unforced errors to his opponent’s 12, and the match remained a low-quality affair in the second. Gojo, again, was in the ascendancy early, passing on an opportunity to open up a 4-0 advantage, but, unlike the first set, he managed to capitalise on the early break to serve it out to send the match to a deciding set.

Gojo again broke early in the decider, twice, as his more experienced opponent began to churn through the unforced errors – Lajovic would finish the match with 44 – and held his nerve to see it out.

– – –

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'What WTA did is really strong' – Medvedev on Peng reaction – Davis Cup Finals Diary

Medvedev on the fence

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev helped secure a 2-0 win for Russian Tennis Federation over Sweden on Thursday to send his side into the Davis Cup semi-finals then immediately found himself fielding questions about the WTA’s decision to immediately suspend all tournaments in China and Hong Kong, as concerns continue to mount over the safety and well-being of Peng Shuai.
Following the WTA’s announcement on Wednesday, the ATP released a statement on Thursday that expressed concern for Peng but did not mention her sexual assault accusations, nor did it include any intention of pulling any operations from China.

Davis Cup

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“What WTA did was definitely a strong decision. At the same time there are so many, let’s say, companies in the world, let’s talk, outside of WTA and ATP. Many of them are outside of China and are still working,” Medvedev told reporters in Madrid.

“I feel like there can be different opinions on what to do. I’m sure talking about [ATP chairman] Andrea [Gaudenzi], ATP, every player, we all want to see her, to be safe, in China, outside of China, doesn’t matter.

“I don’t want to blame anybody for not doing the same thing. Maybe Andrea has a different opinion on what to do in this situation and how to react. What WTA did is a reaction, so ATP did a different reaction. I don’t want to say which one is good or bad.

“But definitely what WTA did is strong. Yeah, there was a lot of money involved there. It’s really strong from [Steve] Simon to make this decision.”

Several players spoke out on social media in support of WTA CEO Steve Simon’s strong stance and criticised the ATP’s weaker position in comparison.

World No.26 Reilly Opelka shared the ATP’s statement and sarcastically wrote “POWERFUL” as the caption. He then responded to a Twitter follower further mocking Gaudenzi’s statement by saying: “I was particularly moved by the part where he said ‘we will monitor any developments as this issue evolves’.”

‘I’m in shock’ – Osaka joins calls for information on missing Chinese star Peng

Noah Rubin described the statement as “weak”, US Davis Cup team captain Mardy Fish wrote, “That’s a statement?” while former world No.1 Andy Roddick tweeted: “How to say a lot of words and say nothing.”

Last month, French veteran Nicolas Mahut said he will not compete in China until the situation with Peng has been resolved.

Asked if he would feel comfortable competing in China while Peng’s sexual assault accusations remained ignored and she was unable to speak or act freely, Medvedev said: “Next tournaments in China are in autumn [2022], so hopefully we can see more of a situation evolving, what happens in the country itself, China, what happens with Shuai.

“Right now what we have is a person missing, and that’s not nice. Hopefully, the issue can be solved because we can never know what’s going to happen.

“That’s why I don’t want to comment this early because, yeah, if the tournament would be next week, probably nobody would feel comfortable. Again, the tournament is next autumn. A lot of countries have different issues, yet we play in most of the tennis tournaments.

“Let’s see how the situation evolves and what the result is going to be. I don’t like this word, but hopefully it’s going to be a positive one.”

Ymer brothers go down fighting

Their quest to claim a first Davis Cup semi-final for Sweden since 2007 ended in defeat to Russian Tennis Federation but the Ymer brothers, Elias and Mikael, can walk away from Madrid with their heads held high after several heroic performances.

Trailing world No.5 Andrey Rublev by a set and 3-5, Elias, the older Ymer who is ranked 171 in the world, broke the Russian as he was serving for the victory, took the second set and went down in the deciding tie-break in the third.

Elias matched Rublev’s firepower and played well above his ranking before surrendering 6-2 5-7 7-6(3). The 25-year-old won both his singles matches in the group stage against Canada’s Steven Diez and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin. Prior to this week, the Swede hadn’t won a Davis Cup match since 2018.

“I was thinking about it right after the match,” Elias said after his opening victory over Diez. “I told them in the locker room, ‘Guys, I just got a win,” he added with a laugh.

Davis Cup Finals highlights: Rublev overcomes Sweden’s Ymer

Inspired by his captain Robin Soderling, Elias followed an aggressive game plan against Rublev and fired 27 winners – 18 of which came off the forehand wing.

The younger Ymer lost to Medvedev 6-4, 6-4, which was enough to seal the tie victory for the Russians but Mikael still has plenty to be proud of.

“It’s tough to look past (the loss) at the moment. I think when we calm down after dinner maybe tonight, I think we’ll look back and say coming from where we are, it’s a pretty good job to reach quarters. It’s a bit of a new stage for us also.”

Earlier in the week, Elias reflected on the journey of the Ymer family and said it was a “miracle” that he and his brother were now representing Sweden as the No.1 and No.2 players in Davis Cup.

“It’s a miracle. You don’t see it in almost any other country. It’s not in many sports, two brothers. Our parents emigrated from Ethiopia. We’re both like No.1 and No.2, representing Sweden in the biggest tennis event in the world. You don’t see it so often,” said Elias.

“I always try to stay present and appreciate it. I know we both can do more. Always look where you are and appreciate it.”

Mikael said it was their father’s dream to see them lead Sweden at the highest level.

“Of course, there are moments here and there that I sit and I think that it’s beautiful, it’s a beautiful story,” added the 23-year-old.

‘Extra pressure’ for Djokovic in semis

Serbia squeezed past Kazakhstan 2-1 in the quarter-finals and now take on Croatia in a high-stakes semi-final on Friday.

Debutant team captain Viktor Troicki hailed the efforts of Serbia’s “saviour” Novak Djokovic, who came through for his side in both singles and doubles on Wednesday.

“I’m really grateful to have him also as a fan and also as a player on the team. He did so much in for our tennis, not just in Davis Cup but our whole nation. He’s giving everything for the team. Playing all the time, winning all the time, it’s a huge pressure,” said Troicki.

Serbia lead Croatia 2-0 head-to-head and the neighbouring nations will be squaring off for the third time since 2010.

The Serbs have the world No.1 in singles on their side but Croatia have the No.1 doubles team in the world and the tie will likely go the distance, especially with Borna Gojo proving to be a rock-solid No.2 player for the Croats.

“There is a big rivalry obviously being the neighbouring countries, and there is always an extra pressure, an extra motivation, extra expectations I think for both nations to really win against each other,” said Djokovic.

“But I think regardless of what happens on the court, what is really nice in the sense of really positive message out there is the respect and the friendship with these guys that we have on and off the court. I’m sure that both teams are going to give their very best to win it. It’s not just semi-finals, but it’s playing against Croatia or Croatia against Serbia, which has extra meaning for us.”

Djokovic cruises past Bublik in straight sets to level tie for Serbia

Quote of the day

“I showed emotions that I shouldn’t do. It always takes time to recover these emotions. So basically, yeah, my level was here, his here. After the second set, we were equal. Plus he was believing in his-self, he was going for the shots. I was playing with fear. I said to myself, if I want to win, I need to change my attitude, I need to start to believe as well. If I want, I can win this match. It depends on me, it’s not depending on him.”

– Andrey Rublev walks us through the emotional roller coaster he went through during his three-set win over Swedish world No.171 Elias Ymer.

Stats of the day

Shamil Tarpischev, who is the longest-serving Davis Cup captain of all time, was leading Russia for the 100th tie on Thursday. He first captained the Russian team in 1974 and began his current spell as captain in 1997, missing just one tie since then.

Rublev recorded his 18th Davis Cup match-win on Thursday, which sees him take sole possession of fourth place on the list of most victories posted by a Russian in the history of the competition, moving past Nikolay Davydenko.

Medvedev improved his Davis Cup singles record to 6-2 following his victory over Mikael Ymer.

Medvedev struck an uncharacteristic nine double faults in his 6-4, 6-4 win over Ymer.

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Djokovic 'so motivated' for Davis Cup but who will win semi-finals?

The semi-finals of the Davis Cup are set with Novak Djokovic’s Serbia taking on Croatia and Russian Tennis Federation facing Germany.

Serbia face Croatia in Madrid on Friday before the second semi-final on Saturday. The final then takes places in the Spanish capital on Sunday.

Ahead of the clashes we look at who are the favourites to reach the final and what the strengths and weaknesses are of each nation.

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Serbia v Croatia

It’s been a battle for Serbia, but they are into the last four.

They faced an anxious wait until the last doubles match of the group stage to confirm their place in the quarter-finals, and then came from behind to beat Kazakhstan and make the semi-finals for the first time since 2017.

Djokovic has done his bit with three straight-set singles wins and a decisive doubles victory against Kazakhstan, after which he spoke about the “beautiful emotions” that he feels playing for his country.

“I just feel so much motivation, and I am inspired to be part of the team. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll be there for the captain. I’ll try to be available always for the team, because the team competitions like Davis Cup, particularly Davis Cup that is the most historic team competition that we have in our sport that is an individual sport,” he said.

“Other than Davis Cup you have the ATP Cup, you have the two big competitions for team that just provoke the most beautiful emotions in me. I’m very motivated to play for Serbia.”

As motivated as Djokovic maybe, he is surely going to need some help if Serbia are to make the final. So far he has not had much support in the singles with Miomir Kecmanovic, Filip Krajinovic and Dusan Lajovic all getting a go and managing just one win between them. World No 69 Kecmanovic suffered a crushing defeat to Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarter-finals and it seems likely that world No 33 Lajovic will return against Croatia, probably to face Borna Gojo, who is 2-0 in singles.

That will likely be the match that decides the tie, with Djokovic expected to beat Marin Cilic in the other singles contest and world No 1 duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic giving Croatia the edge in the doubles. Mektic and Pavic are yet to drop a set in their three matches and will probably face Djokovic and Nikola Cacic, who are 1-1 in the competition and had to battle to a three-set win over Kazakhstan to send Serbia through.

Prediction: Croatia win 2-1

Germany v Russian Tennis Federation

Germany have been the surprise package of the Davis Cup finals, finishing top of their group and then ousting Great Britain in the quarter-finals.

They don’t boast the same top-tier talent in singles as some of the other nations, but Jan-Lennard Struff and Dominik Koepfer have pulled off some big wins to set things up for doubles pair Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz.

Germany have won every tie 2-1 – each time decided in the doubles – but another victory looks a tough ask against the Russian Tennis Federation.

Germany produce stunning tie-break fightback to upset GB to progress to the semi-finals

World No 2 Daniil Medvedev has been imperious so far, winning all six sets he has played, and Germany will probably be focusing their attentions on winning the other singles match.

World No 5 Andrey Rublev has not been in the best of form to finish the year and suffered a shock defeat to 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez in the group stage. He was also pushed to three sets by world No 171 Elias Ymer in the quarter-final win over Sweden. Such is the strength in depth of the Russian Tennis Federation squad that there’s a chance Rublev could be replaced by world No 29 Karen Khachanov.

If it does go to the doubles then Krawietz and Puetz would be favourites, but Russian Tennis Federation also have the advantage of having played all their matches so far in Madrid, while Germany have been based in Innsbruck.

“Madrid feels like home, we’re winning a lot of matches,” said Medvedev after leading his team into the last four.

“It was a great boost of confidence to beat the home team [Spain in the group stage]. We are winning a lot of matches, we didn’t lose a tie in the group. Saturday’s going to be my first semi-final, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Prediction: Russian Tennis Federation win 2-0

Final prediction: Croatia 2-1 Russian Tennis Federation

– – –

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IOC says it has held second video call with Peng ahead of ‘personal meeting’

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'You don't have to fool yourself' – Nadal accepts Djokovic will win most Grand Slams

Rafael Nadal has conceded that Novak Djokovic is likely to close his career as the most successful men’s Grand Slam singles tennis player of all time.

The Spaniard is currently tied with Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles after the Serbian added three more to his tally in a remarkable 2021.

With both Nadal and Federer increasingly troubled by injury, the 13-time French Open champion believes that it would be foolish to suggest that Djokovic is not most likely of the three to end up with the highest tally.

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“Djokovic is best positioned to be the [men’s] player with the most Grand Slams,” Nadal admitted to Vamos, on Movistar+.

“You don’t have to fool yourself – Federer is where he is and I am where I am. However, Djokovic is playing well and in a good moment.

Djokovic cruises past Bublik in straight sets to level tie for Serbia

“That is the reality and you can’t ignore it. We don’t know what is going to happen in nine months’ time, but he is the favourite right now.”

Nadal won his last Grand Slam at Roland-Garros last year, but has competed at only two majors since.

He was knocked out of the quarter-finals at the 2021 Australian Open by Stefanos Tsitsipas before falling to Djokovic in the semi-finals on the clay at the second Grand Slam of the year.

Federer, meanwhile, last took victory in Australia in 2018.

The 40-year-old underwent season-ending knee surgery in August but hopes to return to the tour in 2022.

The emergence of a ‘Next Generation’ to succeed men’s tennis’ ‘Big Three’ has long been talked about, but players like Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev are yet to replicate the remarkable consistency of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal and the sport’s biggest tournaments.

However Nadal relieves that with he and Federer increasingly absent from week-to-week tour life, the trio form a key part of the “current generation” rather than the future of tennis.

“They are no longer the Next Gen, we do not have to make it eternal.

“Players like Medvedev, Zverev or Tsitsipas have already passed that stage of the Next Gen, they are the current generation, the present.”

– – –

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‘We don’t have enough information’ – Djokovic supports ‘bold and courageous’ WTA stance on Peng

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IOC says it has held second video call with Peng ahead of 'personal meeting'

The International Olympic Committee has said it has again spoken with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.

The IOC last week released an image of the organisation’s president, Thomas Bach, having a video discussion with Peng, who disappeared from public view after accusing former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
The Women’s Tennis Association this week suspended all tennis tournaments in China due to its ongoing concerns regarding the safety of the player.

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‘We don’t have enough information’ – Djokovic supports ‘bold and courageous’ WTA stance on Peng

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A statement from the IOC now says that the organisation shares the “same concern” about Peng’s well-being and that they have “agreed on a personal meeting in January” after another video call.

“We share the same concern as many other people and organisations about the well-being and safety of Peng Shuai,” an IOC statement read.

“This is why, just yesterday, an IOC team held another video call with her. We have offered her wide-ranging support, will stay in regular touch with her and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January.

“There are different ways to achieve her well-being and safety. We have taken a very human and person-centred approach to her situation. Since she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these concerns directly with Chinese sports organisations.

“We are using ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters.”

Djokovic: ‘It’s shocking that Peng is missing’

In a swiftly-deleted post on Chinese social media site Weibo made on November 2, Peng alleged that Zhang had sexually assaulted her 10 years ago.

Peng was reportedly not seen publicly for two weeks.

The WTA’s decision to suspend all tournaments in China is likely to have significant financial ramifications for the organising body of women’s professional tennis, which insisted that the IOC’s video call with Peng was “insufficient evidence” of her safety.

China typically hosts several WTA Tour events and the end-of-season finals are contracted to be held in the city of Shenzen until 2030, though the event was moved to Mexico this year due to the coronavirus.

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'We don't have enough information' – Djokovic supports 'bold and courageous' WTA stance on Peng

Novak Djokovic has said he supports the “very bold and very courageous” stance of the WTA Tour after it suspended all tournaments in China due to its ongoing concerns regarding the safety of Peng Shuai.

Speaking at the Davis Cup, the ATP Tour world number one said “I support fully the WTA’s stance because we don’t have enough information” and praised the strength of the WTA Tour in its response to the situation.

“I support fully the WTA’s stance because we don’t have enough information about Peng Shuai and her well-being,” he said.

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“I think the position of the WTA is very bold and very courageous.”

Djokovic added that her health was of the “utmost importance to the world of tennis”.

In November, Peng accused a former Chinese Communist party vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of alleged sexual coercion three years ago. Her Weibo social media account has since been disabled and she has not been seen in public unaccompanied since. That prompted concern around the world, including from professional tennis players, about her safety and whereabouts.

Chinese state media had released videos purportedly showing Peng at dinner, and another appearing to show her at a youth tennis match in Beijing in late November. The validity of both has been widely questioned.
In late November, Peng had a video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach. The IOC said in a statement at the time that Peng said she was safe and well.

However, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon released a statement on Wednesday to maintain that he still had “serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation”, and “in good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault”.

‘I’m in shock’ – Osaka joins calls for information on missing Chinese star Peng

WTA STATEMENT IN FULL

“When on November 2, 2021, Peng Shuai posted an allegation of sexual assault against a top Chinese government official, the Women’s Tennis Association recognized that Peng Shuai’s message had to be listened to and taken seriously. The players of the WTA, not to mention women around the world, deserve nothing less,” began the statement.

“From that moment forward, Peng Shuai demonstrated the importance of speaking out, particularly when it comes to sexual assault, and especially when powerful people are involved. As Peng said in her post, “Even if it is like an egg hitting a rock, or if I am like a moth drawn to the flame, inviting self-destruction, I will tell the truth about you.” She knew the dangers she would face, yet she went public anyway. I admire her strength and courage.

“Since then, Peng’s message has been removed from the internet and discussion of this serious issue has been censored in China. Chinese officials have been provided the opportunity to cease this censorship, verifiably prove that Peng is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and investigate the allegation of sexual assault in a full, fair and transparent manner. Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.

“None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.

“As a result, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong. In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.

“I have been gratified by the massive amount of international support the WTA has received for its position on this matter. To further protect Peng and many other women throughout the world, it is more urgent than ever for people to speak out. The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players. As we do so, I hope leaders around the world will continue to speak out so justice can be done for Peng, and all women, no matter the financial ramifications.

“I very much regret it has come to this point. The tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are full of great people with whom we have worked for many years. They should be proud of their achievements, hospitality and success. However, unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China. China’s leaders have left the WTA with no choice. I remain hopeful that our pleas will be heard and the Chinese authorities will take steps to legitimately address this issue.”

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'I'm better than you!' – Kyrgios lifts lid on 'uncomfortable' Serena doubles match

Nick Kyrgios has described his experience of playing doubles with Serena Williams as “uncomfortable”, because he thought he was the better player.

Kyrgios and 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams teamed up for Singapore Slammers at the International Premier Tennis League in 2014, losing 6-3 to Kirsten Flipkens and Daniel Nestor.

Speaking about the match on his No Boundaries podcast, Kyrgios said: “I’ve hit with Serena before. I played mixed doubles with her at IPTL and it was the most uncomfortable experience for me because she was trying to do everything. And I was like ‘I’m better than you’.

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“There are some sports where the levels [between men and women] are quite similar…but deep down I was like ‘Serena you have to get me involved here, we’re getting snipped, give me the ball!’”

The comments are in contrast to Kyrgios’ views on playing doubles with Venus Williams at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

The Australian described that experience as a “dream come true” and said Venus is a “legend” of the sport.

Kyrgios has only played five matches on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon and has been recovering from injury in preparation for the Australian Open in January.

While Kyrgios has sometimes been viewed as an underachiever due to the talents at his disposal, he says he is happy with the path he has chosen.

“Every single day of my life I deal with people telling me how to be or how to train or how to hit a forehand. I feel that as a 26-year-old I am in a pretty good spot, I help a lot of people, I have a lot of options, I’m healthy, I’ve got great friends and those are my goals right now.

“When I was young I wasn’t thinking about winning Grand Slams, I just wanted to have fun.”

Kyrgios also acknowledged that he doesn’t have the same drive as many of the other top players.

“I love the game but I’m not passionate or driven as they are. They’re like once in a generation, once in a decade athletes.

Watch the moment Boston Celtics superfan Kyrgios walks out at TD Garden

“There’s no chance that [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal or Novak [Djokovic] or [Andy] Murray doesn’t love it. If you watch Murray’s documentary, he’s having phone calls in the middle of the night at 3am to his team saying, ‘I’m scared to not play, like I don’t know what I’m going to do without the sport.’ That’s not me.

“You have to pick what you want, do you want fun or more titles? You can have a little balance but I have picked my poison. I am happy.

Asked how he reacts when people say he should have had more success in tennis, Kyrgios added: “I just say it’s my life. It’s so easy to tell people what to do… you can’t tell people how to live their life.”

Serena Williams could join Kyrgios in making her return to action at the Australian Open in January.

The American has not played since Wimbledon due to injury but suggested last month that she would compete in Melbourne as she aims to win a record-equalling 24th major.

– –

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Djokovic Does Double Duty, Leads Serbia To Davis Cup SFs

Novak Djokovic did double duty on Wednesday in Madrid to lead Serbia into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup Finals.

Djokovic defeated Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-4 in singles and quickly returned to the court to partner Nikola Cacic to a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory against Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, giving Serbia a 2-1 victory against Kazakhstan.

“I’m proudest of the fighting spirit. We had a little drop energetically in the second set, but we managed to bounce back. The start of the third set was crucial the first couple of games to hold our nerves, try to switch the momentum to our side and that’s what we managed,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I’m proud of Nikola, proud of this team and I think we deserve to be in the semi-finals.”

<img src="https://sportblogg.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/djokovic-davis-cup-2021-qf.jpg" alt="Novak Djokovic“>
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Cacic and Djokovic lost a deciding doubles rubber in group play against Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz of Germany. This time, they came out on the winning end, with Cacic hitting a clutch forehand return to end the match.

“This is our third match played together and every match is better. We are getting better on the court,” Cacic said. “We had a little bit of a problem in the second set actually, I got a little bit tight… But we managed to come back in the third set and I’m really happy.”

Serbia had no margin for error after Mikhail Kukushkin secured a 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(11) triumph against Miomir Kecmanovic in the first rubber, which Kecmanovic served for in the third set.

But Djokovic was locked in throughout the day. The World No. 1 levelled the tie with a comprehensive performance against the big-serving Bublik, who even threw in an underarm serve in the penultimate game. Djokovic did not lose focus, closing out Bublik before coming back to produce a determined performance in the doubles rubber. Serbia will play Croatia in the semi-finals.

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Djokovic cruises past Bublik in straight sets to level tie for Serbia

Novak Djokovic efficiently cruised past Alexander Bublik with a 6-3, 6-3 victory in their quarter-final clash in Madrid to make it 1-1.

Earlier in the day, Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan a surprise 1-0 lead with a 6-7 6-4 7-6 win over Miomir Kecmanovic, but it never looked like Bublik would be able to produce a victory over Djokovic.

The world number one set up two break points with a trademark forehand at 2-1 up. Bublik saved the first one with an ace but could not save the second after miscuing a drop shot.

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Djokovic grew in confidence and then began to toy with his opponent during their rallies. Djokovic, who made just four unforced errors in the first set, comfortably held his service game to win it 6-3.

In a nervy start to the second set Djokovic broke to go 2-1 up with the penultimate shot a masterful cross-court return. Winning close to 90 per cent of his points on his first serve throughout the match, Djokovic fashioned a 4-2 lead in the second set.

And Djokovic wasted no time to wrap up the contest, holding his service game to love to go 5-3 up. Bublik held his serve with a cheeky underarm serve, but Djokovic sealed the win on his second match point and gave a subtle fist pump to himself.

Next up Djokovic and Nikola Cacic will take on Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov in a doubles decider.

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Djokovic beats Bublik and wins doubles decider to lift Serbia into semi-finals

Novak Djokovic efficiently cruised past Alexander Bublik with a 6-3, 6-3 victory in their quarter-final clash in Madrid to make it 1-1 before winning in the doubles to help his nation into the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan a surprise 1-0 lead with a 6-7 6-4 7-6 win over Miomir Kecmanovic, but it never looked like Bublik would be able to produce a victory over Djokovic in the second match.

It meant that Djokovic and Nikola Cacic took on Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov in a doubles decider and the Serbians prevailed with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory in one hour and 39 minutes.

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“We had a little drop energetically in the second set but we managed to bounce back,” Djokovic said after the match. “The start of the third set was crucial.

The first couple of games we held our nerves and bridged the momentum to our side and that’s what we managed. I’m proud of Nikola and this team and we deserve to be in the semi-finals.

Serbia captain Viktor Troicki said afterwards: “I’m proud of my team. The players gave their best. We were unlucky in the first match but luckily we made it through. Novak today was amazing in the singles and doubles, Nikola also helped him so much. I’m proud of the whole team.

We have a few days to rest and it’s already late and we will prepare well for Saturday’s match.

Against Bublik the world number one set up two break points with a trademark forehand at 2-1 up. Bublik saved the first one with an ace but could not save the second after miscuing a drop shot.

Djokovic grew in confidence and then began to toy with his opponent during their rallies. Djokovic, who made just four unforced errors in the first set, comfortably held his service game to win it 6-3.

In a nervy start to the second set Djokovic broke to go 2-1 up with the penultimate shot a masterful cross-court return. Winning close to 90 per cent of his points on his first serve throughout the match, Djokovic fashioned a 4-2 lead in the second set.

And Djokovic wasted no time to wrap up the contest, holding his service game to love to go 5-3 up. Bublik held his serve with a cheeky underarm serve, but Djokovic sealed the win on his second match point and gave a subtle fist pump to himself.

‘We waited for it!’ – Bublik gives crowd what they want with underarm serve

– – –

Stream the 2021 Davis Cup and the 2022 Australian Open live and on-demand on discovery+

Davis Cup

Tiafoe on ‘f****** play hard’ & Bublik’s Medvedev impression – Davis Cup Finals diary

29/11/2021 AT 10:07

Australian Open

‘Blackmail’ – Djokovic will ‘probably not’ play Australian Open, says father

29/11/2021 AT 09:01