May 29, 2016

Del Potro Usurps Top Seed Fognini in Sydney

By Dave Gertler

(January 14, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro has come from behind in his second-round match at the Apia International, to usurp top seed Italian Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday. The Argentine world No. 338 – who last year was ranked No. 5 in the world when he beat Bernard Tomic in the Sydney final – hadn’t played a match since Dubai in February 2014 before he faced his first-round opponent on Tuesday.

 

“I feel better on the court,” said Del Potro, “Especially in the end of the match. I serve well, I hit good forehands, and my backhands improved from yesterday to this match a little bit.”

 

On Wednesday, Del Potro faced an initial onslaught from world No. 18 Fognini who broke Del Potro twice in the first set, taking it 6-4. Del Potro found his range toward the end of the second set, again relying on his main weapons, his serve and forehand, to maintain pressure on Fognini’s game, breaking Fognini four more times to win the second and third sets 6-2, 6-2.

 

As far as adding his aggressive backhand back into his arsenal, Del Potro isn’t rushing anything, saying, “My game is serve strong and hit and try to make winners with my forehand. If my backhand is OK, I will be aggressive too with my backhand in the future. But now I think I have to put it on court, just to hit the ball as better I can, and don’t try to make winners with my backhand at this moment. I just need to play a lot of backhands during the point, and if I do that, I will get confidence very soon to play aggressive as well.”

 

A dip in form by the mercurial Fognini in the latter half of the match contributed to Del Potro’s from-behind win, but Del Potro’s serve and service percentage got better as the match wore on. In the second set, he only dropped one point behind his first serve, and in the final set his first serve percentage was 78%, winning 12 of 15 points behind it.

 

Del Potro will face Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarter-finals on Thursday, and indicated he would be physically ready. “My wrist is the same,” said Del Potro, “It’s not getting worse, so I have confidence with that. Of course I’m very happy to beat my first top 20 player on the year.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Successful Start to Del Potro’s Comeback in Sydney

Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 13, 2015) For Juan Martin Del Potro, this was the successful return to competition after almost a year that everyone – except, perhaps, his first-round opponent at the Apia International, Sergiy Stakhovsky – was hoping for.

 

The shot most affected by his injury is Del Potro’s double-handed backhand, but the Argentinian 26-year-old possesses other weapons, namely one of the most powerful serves and deadly forehands on tour. Those were both on full display on Tuesday afternoon, when he denied Stakhovsky any break points on the way to a straight-sets 6-3, 7-6 victory that took 81 minutes.

 

 

“It was a great moment for me,” said an emotional Del Potro after the match, “I think I play well to be in my first match after ten months. I serve well.  My forehand is still working out. So that’s mean good signal for the future. I need to work very hard to my backhands and my movements, but I think now is time to think about my comeback and enjoying this moment a lot. I been at home for a long time really sad. To be honest, I didn’t expect this moment to be early in the season. I’m so happy, so glad.”

 

 

After the match Del Potro, who raised the Apia International winner’s trophy in 2014, raised both arms in a warmly-received celebration before collapsing to his chair and putting his towel over his head, apparently overwhelmed by the emotion.

 

 

“I enjoy the match, enjoying the atmosphere on there,” said Del Potro, “They are still Argentinian fans coming to watch me, which is very good for me. Obviously be the defending champion here means a lot. But I don’t have to think about that. Just try to be calm and go step by step, trying to go slowly. I know many people expect me playing like a top 10 very soon, but I will say to them that it takes a bit of time.”

 

 

Del Potro indicated his wrist felt better than he had expected, saying, “I will be ready to play tomorrow for sure. I will do treatment after here that take me like an hour every day. It’s supposed to be worse after intensive match like today, but I’m feeling well at the moment. I will see tonight and maybe tomorrow morning, but my doctor is behind me. He give me big confidence every day, so I’m still positive and I still want to play tennis.”

 

 

Hi opponent on Wednesday, top seed Fabio Fognini, has also struggled with his health recently in Perth, where he was sidelined from the Hopman Cup for at least one rubber with a heat-related illness. “Fabio is a great player,” said Del Potro, “He’s the No.1 seed. He is a friend of mine as well. So just try to play as I did today will be great for me. Obviously focus is on my wrist, trying to don’t get worse after tonight and after the match of tomorrow. If everything happens in the good way, I will be happy for this week.”

 

 

Clearly focussed on the long road back to full health, Del Potro assures, “I will be an aggressive player again very soon, but now it’s time to work on my physically and the treatment and the recoveries every day.”

 

 

Reflecting on his time away from the game, he said, “It’s been horrible for me. I spend a lot of time at home. I was watching tennis on TV. I think for all the players watching the big tournaments on TV is really, really bad. Supposed to be there playing with these guys, looking on trying to win a grand slam again. But I also have a big support of my family, of my friends. Because of them, I’m here now. They want me to still watching playing tennis. And I feel young, so I will try to play tennis as long as I can. Could be another start of my career after this match.”

 

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .
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Stars Descend On Sydney for the Apia International

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Stars of the tennis world have been descending upon Sydney over the last days, while qualifying heats have been contested at the Apia International in Sydney. Last year’s women’s champion Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and won eight matches in a row at the 2014 Apia International, has had to navigate through qualifying again – albeit as top seed this year – and will make it into the main draw if she defeats American Nicole Gibbs on Sunday. Despite lifting her ranking from outside the top 100 a year ago to where it is now at No.37, that Pironkova still needed to qualify is testament to the depth of the women’s draw at this year’s event.

The tournament’s top seed Simona Halep will arrive in Sydney on Sunday, from Shenzhen, China where she won the tournament.
Petra Kvitova lost in the semi-finals of Shenzhen.
Caroline Wozniacki  arrived at Sydney Airport last night from Auckland, losing her Auckland final to Venus Williams.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will complete the Apia International’s top four seeds when she arrives in Sydney from Perth, where she and Jerzy Janowicz – who will also feature strongly on the men’s side of the Sydney tournament – have won the Hopman Cup in an eventful final against USA’s John Isner and Serena Williams.

Janowicz will continue to be a headline act of Australia’s Summer of Tennis, as he plays young Australian giant-killer Nick Kyrgios in their first round match, which was allotted yesterday during a draw ceremony whose guests of honour included Ken Rosewall and Lesley Bowrey. 2005 Sydney finalist Sam Stosur, as well as 2012 Sydney finalist Julien Benneteau, were also in attendance for their respective WTA and ATP draw ceremonies.

 

While the men’s draw is less stacked than a women’s draw which boasts six top-10 players, Benneteau called the men’s draw, “Very compact,” saying, “Maybe there is not top 10 players, but from the top seeds to the end of the draw, there are tough players between 20, 30, 40, very good players, so I really think that anyone can win on Saturday.”

The men’s top two seeds, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, will fly surprisingly under the radar at this tournament given that last year’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro, has chosen this event to stage his comeback from injury that has left him sidelined for almost a year. Del Potro flew in on Thursday night and has been using the days since to practice on Ken Rosewall Arena, with some light strapping on his wrist.

 

Ken Rosewall predicted a big year for the new Australian men’s No. 1, saying, “Because of his rapid improvement and his performance at Wimbledon and other senior events, there’ll be a lot of players who’ll be wanting to be in top form when they play against him. Hopefully Nick can remain physically clear without any problems, and he’ll be in good form. But I think there’ll be extra pressure on him this time to kind of stand up to being the number one player in Australia.”

 

At the women’s draw ceremony, Lesley Bowrey, winner of the French Open in 1964 and 1965, had some timely and compassionate words of wisdom for Sam Stosur, who is known for her struggles to win matches on home soil. “I just want to wish Sam all the best,” said Bowrey, “And just go out there and be free and easy, really, and not worry, as you say about everyone else, and what they’re telling you, just play your own game and do what you want to do.” Stosur has been drawn to face Lucie Safarova, the Czech world No.15 to whom she has lost their last six matches.

 

“Look, sometimes when I used to lead in matches, and I used to lose them too,” continued Bowrey, perhaps referring to Stosur’s loss last week in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, after having a match point at 5-1 in the deciding set, “We all do that, it’s nothing new, you just have to find a way. What I used to do is just say, well, if I’m leading 5-1 or 5-2 or 5-3, I’d just tell myself I’m down that, and just take the pressure right off myself. That’s how I used to handle it, just tell myself I’m not leading, I’m down. Tennis is a tough game, it’s a tough sport.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Del Potro to Play Sydney

Del Potro smiles with racquet bag

(January 7, 2015) After his Tuesday afternoon practice session in Buenos Aires, Juan Martin del Potro decided to come back to the ATP tour and play in Sydney and the Australian Open, the Argentine’s management team announced on Wednesday.

“I missed the tour, I missed to compete. Those feelings outweigh the pain in the wrist, which comes and goes and prevented me from having the ideal pre-season training. I don’t expect great results. At this point I don’t care about the rankings. I take it as a reward for the effort that I put to return,” wrote the Olympic medalist on his Facebook account.

Del Potro played his last singles match on February 25th, 2014, when he was forced to retire against Somdev Devvarman in Dubai.

From Del Potro’s Facebook page:

 

Hola a todos!!! Quería contarles que decidimos viajar a jugar Sydney y el Abierto de Australia. Extrañaba mucho el circuito, extrañaba competir, extrañaba el contacto con ustedes en la cancha y eso pesa más en la decisión que las molestias en la mano, que van y vienen y no me dejaron tener la pretemporada ideal.

No espero grandes resultados, solamente volver a sentir la sensación de la competencia, la sensación de ser nuevamente un tenista activo, después de casi un año fuera. En este momento no me importa el ranking. La situación pasa por otro lado. Lo tomo como un premio al esfuerzo y las ganas que le puse para volver.

La experiencia de la lesión anterior me servirá para no sentir ansiedad en el regreso. Sigo los pasos que aconseja mi médico Richard Berger. Hay que tener paciencia.

Como escribí en un mensaje anterior, gracias por el apoyo en el camino del regreso. Saben que sin el aliento de ustedes, sumado a mi voluntad, al apoyo de mi equipo de trabajo, de mi familia y amigos, esto no sería posible.

Nos vemos en Australia!

////////

Hello everyone!!! I wanted to tell you that we decided to travel to play Sydney and the Australian Open. I missed the tour, I missed to compete, I missed interacting with you on court and those feelings outweigh the pain in the wrist, which comes and goes and prevented me from having the ideal pre-season training.

I don’t expect great results, I just want to feel the competition, I want to feel an active player once again, nearly a year after my last match. At this point I don’t care about the rankings. The situation is different. I take it as a reward for the effort that I put to come back.

The experience of my previous injury will help me so as not to be too anxious. I follow what my doctor Richard Berger says. I have to be patient.

As I wrote in a previous post, thanks for your support on my way back! You know that without your love, my will, the support of my team, my family and friends, this would not be possible.

See you in Australia!

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Del Potro Gives Update on His Left Wrist Surgery Recovery

Del Potro (R) with Dr. Richard Berger (L) during second visit to the Mayo Clinic.

Del Potro (R) with Dr. Richard Berger (L) during second visit to the Mayo Clinic.

(May 1, 2014) Juan Martin Del Potro posted an update about his recovery post wrist surgery on his Facebook page:

 

Hello everyone! Here I leave a picture with Richard Berger in my second checkup at the clinic may after surgery. The doctor is satisfied with the recovery and, although I still have to continue to wear the splint will now begin the part of rehabilitation exercises to regain mobility on the left wrist. Thanks for your messages and happy worker day!

Hello everyone! Here’s a photo with Richard Berger during my second visit to the Mayo Clinic after the surgery. The doctor is pleased with the recovery and even though I still have to wear the splint, I will begin doing rehabilitation exercises to regain mobility in the wrist. Thank you for your messages and happy Labor Day!

A statement from the Mayo Clinic after Juan Martin del Potor’s second visit after the wrist surgery:

 
Juan Martin del Potro returned to the Mayo Clinic almost six weeks after his left wrist operation, where he saw his surgeon, Dr. Richard Berger. He has been wearing a special splint to support his wrist while his ligament repairs heal. 
 
Dr. Berger was very pleased with everything about the examination. The ligament repairs have healed exactly as planned, and he will begin an intense period of rehabilitation for regaining motion and strength. This rehabilitation will continue until Juan Martin is ready to re-enter competitive tennis.

 

Del Potro underwent surgery on his right wrist back in 2010, the year after he won his first and only major the US Open and was off the tour for eight months. His last match in 2014 came in Dubai in February.

Related Articles:

Juan Martin Del Potro to Have Surgery on His Left Wrist

Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Sony Open

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Juan Martin Del Potro to Have Surgery on His Left Wrist

Del Potro retires

(March 23, 2014) Juan Martin del Potro announced on his Facebook page on Sunday evening that he will be undergoing surgery on his left wrist on Monday, March 24, 2014 . Here is the announcement on his Facebook page:

Estimados amigos,

Les quiero contar que luego de un período de tratamiento médico conservador, en el que probamos alternativas para que pueda ser competitivo en una cancha de tenis, y de nuevos estudios realizados hoy, mi médico Richard Berger decidió operarme para solucionar el problema en la muñeca izquierda. Será mañana, lunes 24 de marzo.

Lógicamente, no es la decisión más fácil ni el momento más feliz de mi carrera. Tengo la experiencia de una situación parecida y sé lo duro que es estar fuera del circuito, las ganas de querer volver, las semanas interminables de recuperación y también lo complicado que es comenzar a pelear por los primeros puestos nuevamente.

Como siempre, les agradezco a los que me manifiestan su apoyo en cualquier parte de la Argentina y el mundo, en los torneos, en la calle o por redes sociales. La fuerza de ustedes y mis ganas serán fundamentales en la recuperación.

Muchas gracias a todos,
Juan Martín

///////////////////////////////////////////

Dear friends,

I want to tell you that after a period of medical treatment, in which we tried to be competitive on a tennis court, and following new examinations done today, my doctor Richard Berger decided that I should have surgery to fix the problem on my left wrist. It will be tomorrow, Monday, March 24th.

Obviously, it’s not the easiest choice or the happiest moment of my career. I experienced a similar situation and I know how hard it is to be out of the tour, the desire to return, the endless weeks of recovery and how difficult it is to start fighting for the top spots in the rankings again.

As always, thank you to those who express their support in any part of Argentina and the world, during tournaments, on the streets or social networks. The strength you send me and my desire will be crucial during my recovery.

Thank you very much to all,
Juan Martín

Del Potro had withdrawn from the Sony Open last week and the BNP Paribas Open with the same injury – ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Sony Open

 

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine when he withdrew from Indian Wells.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

Del Potro underwent  surgery on his right wrist back in 2010, the year after he won his first and only major the US Open and was off the tour for eight months.

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Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Sony Open

Del Potro in press 3

 

(March 19, 2014) Juan Martin del Potro has announced on his Facebook page that he is withdrawing from the Sony Open in Miami citing the wrist injury which also took him out of the BNP Paribas Open:

 

Hola a todos de nuevo. Durante estos días me estuve entrenando en el Crandon Park y seguí el tratamiento para intentar jugar en Miami, pero todavía siento dolores en la muñeca y no estoy en forma competitiva para entrar a la cancha. Me siento muy triste porque se trata de un torneo especial para mí por la cantidad de fans argentinos y latinos en general. En los próximos días visitaré a mi médico nuevamente para determinar los pasos a seguir. De corazón, gracias a todos por los mensajes en este momento especial.

////

Hi everybody. During these days I was training at the Crandon Park and followed the treatment to try to play in Miami, but I still feel pain in my left wrist and I don’t feel competitive to go on court. It’s a pity because this is a special tournament for me since there are many Latin fans and Argentines in particular. In the next few days I will visit my doctor again to determine the following steps. Sincerely, thanks everybody for the messages in this special moment.

Related article:

Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

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Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

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Juan Martin Del Potro Retires from Match in Dubai

Del Potro retires

(February 25, 2014) DUBAI – Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to retire from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday with a left wrist injury after losing the first set in a tiebreak to Somdev Devvarman.

 

The No. 2 seed had been suffering with the injury before he arrived in Dubai, and he sought medical advice in the United States following his opening round loss at the Australian Open last month. Del Potro missed most of the 2010 season recovering from wrist surgery. Del Potro won the US Open, his only major in 2009.

 

Although he broke for a 2-0 lead, Del Potro immediately dropped his own serve in the next game and after failing to convert three set points on his opponent’s serve at 6-5 he lost the tiebreak 7-3.

 

“My wrist is hurting a lot and it was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it’s very difficult play like in these conditions, you know, playing slices or I cannot be the player what I would like to be,” said the Argentine.

 

“It’s hurting all the time, it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more. But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time.  He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. I have been doing a big effort to play this tournament, and it was not enough to play what I like to play.”

 

Devvarman said that he realized after a few games that Del Potro was having some pain.

 

“After starting the match, I realized that he wasn’t very comfortable hitting backhands obviously, and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasn’t really hitting over it, so I knew that he wasn’t happy,” said Devvarman. “I just tried to fight hard and tried my best to make things tough for him, make things easier for me.

 

“Obviously it’s unfortunate, you know, especially for a guy like him. I think he’s been playing really good tennis to be in the top 5, and I wish him nothing but the best and a good recovery.”

 

Del Potro said that he plans to head straight to the Mayo Clinic for another consultation with his physician Dr. Richard Berger, who operated his right wrist surgery.
The next tournament is in the United States, and I have a couple of weeks off before the tournament and I will be there to see the doctor and what advice he will give to me,“ Del Potro said.

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Djokovic, Del Potro, Berdych and Federer Meet the Media in Dubai

 

Dubai venue-001

By Florian Heer

(February 23, 2014) DUBAI – For the 22nd time, the only ATP World Tour 500 event in the Middle East region is taking place in Dubai. The tournament is held at the Aviation Club and its Centre Court with the official name of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, has a capacity of 5,000 seats. Total prize money will be US-$ 1,928,340.

The draw was announced on Saturday in which defending champion as well as top-seed Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer are projected to clash in the tournament’s semifinals. “We have two of the greatest men who have ever played the game once again competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “Their semifinal will be one to savour, but the field here is so strong that neither are guaranteed their place in the final four,” he added.

There is also second-seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who opens his bid for the title against popular wild card Somdev Devvarman. The Argentine could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Czech faces a qualifier in the first round. “With other members of the Top ten in the form of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and very in-form Tomas Berdych and the entertaining and highly-talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also vying for one of the most coveted trophies on the ATP World Tour, Dubai tennis fans are set to enjoy a fantastic week of top-class action,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

Tomas Berdych-001

Tomas Berdych

On Sunday the event’s top-seeds spoke about the coming week. “Every tournament starts from zero. There will be an opponent already in the first round, who really wants to beat you and plays well,” Tomas Berdych explained. “For me there is also a big change coming from indoors and now playing here outside. I still need time starting to build it up again,” the Czech winner from Rotterdam said.

Roger Federer-001

Roger Federer

“For me it is key playing point to point from match to match,” fourth-seeded Roger Federer stated. “The tournaments in Brisbane and Melbourne gave me confirmation that the racket switch was a good choice,” the Swiss said. “It’s nice spending time with him and it is also inspiring just to hear him speaking about the game,” Federer added about his partnership with Stefan Edberg. “Clearly we are favourites in the next match,” the Swiss talked about the Davis Cup when Switzerland will face Kazakhstan. “Clearly with Stan (Wawrinka) we have a very good team, although the depth is not quite there. Nonetheless Marco (Chiudinelli), Michael (Lammer) and Henri (Laaksonen) can play good tennis but still it depends a lot on Stan and myself. We will see how the next round goes and it is clearly nice to play at home in Switzerland,” Federer is looking forward to the tie and hopes that a lot of spectators will come to Geneva in April.

Juan Martin Del Potro-001

Juan Martin Del Potro

“There are a lot of good players here in the draw. There are Federer or Djokovic, who are also favourites to win the title here,” second-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro said. “Of course I also want to go deep into this tournament. There are high expectations in my country as well and I’m trying to keep within the top-five, top-ten this year and it will be a great season for me,” the Argentine said.

Novak Djokovic-001

Novak Djokovic

“I discussed it with my team last year during the Asian swing in September and Marian (Vajda) was actually the one, who suggested to include another coach,” Novak Djokovic said about his partnership with Boris Becker.

“Marian has been travelling for so many year on the tennis tour and he got a little bit tired. He wanted to spend more time with his family. He has two daughters, who also play tennis so the subject came up and we talked about it. We considered different names and Boris was the one, who fitted most to our vision and to that what I want. Next we talked to Boris and there were several months of discussion how we could make this work and eventually he accepted it. Today I’m still excited for having a tennis legend like Boris in my team,” Dubai’s top-seed told the press.

“As a head coach Boris committed to travel a lot of weeks and many tournaments, which is hopefully going to bring me positive results. It’s just the beginning of the season and the Australian Open was a good tournament for us, although I lost in five sets against the champion, somebody who played an incredible tournament of his life. This was a great match to be part of. The year before I won against Stan (Wawrinka), so this is normal. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It was not because Boris was there instead of Marian, as many people were saying. We are not significantly changing anything in my game. The biggest part where Boris can help me is obviously the mental approach and figuring out certain match situations, as he knows the position on the court.

 

“We are not changing my technique, you will not see me playing with my left and or single-handed backhands,” Djokovic added and laughed. “We do have different games. Boris was a serve and volley player, very strong and muscular. In contrary I’m a player, who stays more at the baseline but I have been working for the last year and a half – also with Marian – trying to use the opportunity that is presented due to my groundstrokes to come to the net and win the point,” the Serb said. “I felt that I have dropped two or three titles in the big tournaments during the last two years, which I could have won. That’s another reason why Boris is here,” Djokovic added.

“After the Australian Open I took some time off. There are more than four weeks between my last official match and Dubai. I only played five matches this year, just practiced for the rest of the weeks and so it will be challenging for me to go out on the courts here. It’s a totally different situation playing matches in front of thousands of people and so I tried to play so many points as possible in the last few days with all the players here,” Djokovic said.

The draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was completed on Sunday after four qualifiers Adrian Ungur, Lukas Lacko, Marius Copil and Thiemo de Bakker battled their way to victory.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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