Belgrade: World number one Novak Djokovic has enjoyed two good weeks on red clay but admitted that winning a second French Open title would be a tall order after a crushing defeat by Rafael Nadal in last week’s Italian Open final.
Djokovic clinched the Madrid Open without dropping a set and then won a pair of epic battles against Argentines Juan Martin Del Potro and Diego Schwartzman in Rome before succumbing to the imperious Nadal 6-0 4-6 6-1 in Sunday’s final.
That defeat aside, the Serb’s form seems to have peaked in time for the May 26-June 9 tournament. However, the 32-year-old from Belgrade, who has won 15 Grand Slam titles, made it clear Nadal, who is the same age, was the favourite at Roland Garros.
He also named Austrian Dominic Thiem, the 25-year-old world number four, and 11th-ranked Italian Fabio Fognini, who is 31, as strong contenders.
“Nadal (is) the number one favourite without a doubt, and then everyone else,” a serene Djokovic told reporters after he was beaten by the Spaniard at the Foro Italico.
“I think it’s going to be a really good tournament. Dominic Thiem has been playing some good tennis and he can beat anybody, especially on clay.
“Fognini is also playing quality tennis, he showed against Nadal in Monte Carlo what he is capable of,” he added referring to the Italian’s 6-4 6-2 semi-final victory.
“On a given day, best of five (sets), with one day between matches, players will have enough time to really be at their best.
“Everybody is trying to peak for Roland Garros and I am really looking forward to it.”
Djokovic’s exploits on clay came after several months of patchy form following his January triumph at the Australian Open in Melbourne where he beat Nadal in straight sets.
A quarter-final loss in Monte Carlo came on the back of early exits at Indian Wells and Miami, prompting speculation by pundits that Djokovic was heading for a dip in form similar to the one in 2016 after he won his maiden French Open title.
But the Serb silenced his critics with a vintage run in Rome, including a rip-roaring victory over Del Potro when he saved two match points in the second set before dismantling his close friend in the third.
He then held his nerve against the battling Schwarzman before running out of steam versus, leaving doubts as to whether he will have enough in the tank to match world number two Nadal for energyduring the gruelling two-week event in Paris.
Djokovic has already achieved the rare feat of holding all four major honours at the same time, having won the 2015 Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles before clinching the Australian Open and French Open crowns the following year.
After two difficult years dogged by an injury which required elbow surgery and a dramatic loss of form, Djokovic bounced back spectacularly to clinch the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open titles again in 2018 as well as this year’s Australian Open.
Dhoni could be ‘exposed’ by Yuvraj’s dad after World Cup
Mumbai: Father of recently retired former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, Yograj has struck again, and all the signs point toward former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
While the cricketer is busy preparing for India’s next clash against Pakistan on Sunday after rain played spoilsport on the much-hyped India-New Zealand clash, a recent video of Yograj has surfaced where he speaks about an ‘un-named’ player who is responsible for the ‘dirty politics’ in the Indian cricket team.
Yograj further goes on to state that this player is the reason that many players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and his own son Yuvraj Singh were not included in the Indian team at crucial points in time.
While Yograj didn’t reveal much about the player he talks about, he did mention that he’d make the complete revelations after the currently ongoing 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Based on earlier allegations by Yograj, who was also a former pace bowler, towards then Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, It seems pretty evident that he is speaking of ‘Captain Cool’.
“I don’t want to take his name but he has been playing these dirty politics from the last 15 years. He has made lives difficult for Indian cricketers. I will make this revelation after the World Cup gets over. He will remember this for life that someone said something about him,” said Yograj.
“I don’t want to speak about him at this point in time because I don’t want the team to get affected during the World Cup,” he added.
FIFA Rankings: India unmoved at 101
London: The Indian national team remain unmoved in the June 2019 edition of the FIFA Rankings released.
Following India’s exit from the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup, India have had a change in coach with Igor Stimac replacing Stephen Constantine.
Under Stimac, India recently participated in the King’s Cup 2019 in Thailand where a 3-1 defeat against Curacao (79) was backed by a 1-0 win over hosts Thailand (116) in the third-place play-off.
GFX India FIFA Rankings June 2019
The Blue Tigers are set to face Tajikistan (120), DPR Korea (122) and Syria (85) in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2019 next. India enter the tournament as defending champions.
Meanwhile, in the global standings, Belgium continue to lead at the top having bettered their advantage over second-placed France who also stay put in their position, the same as Brazil and England at third and fourth spots respectively.
2019 UEFA Nations League champions Portugal have displaced Croatia to stand fifth while Spain (7) has gained two places. Germany (11 – tied with Argentina), Italy and Netherlands (both at 14) have also moved two places up.
Coutinho brace helps Brazil forget Neymar in winning Copa start
Sao Paulo: A brace from Philippe Coutinho handed hosts Brazil a winning start to the Copa America in a 3-0 victory over Bolivia as the absence of superstar Neymar was quickly forgotten.
Barcelona’s Coutinho scored from the penalty spot early in the second half and added a close-range header three minutes later.
Substitute Everton netted a sensational third five minutes from time to clinch a Group A victory for coach Tite’s tournament favorites in Sao Paul.
The build-up to the competition had been dominated by Neymar’s woes, firstly when he was accused of rape by a Brazilian model, and then when he damaged ankle ligaments in a friendly last week, forcing him out of the Copa.
If Brazil’s first-half performance was anything to go by, the Paris Saint-Germain star was sorely missed, but Coutinho’s brace at least silenced the jeers that met the team at half-time.
“Whistles are part of the game, the fans want us to win and play well, so that’s why they jeer,” said the match-winner, whose goals papered over the cracks of an at times disjointed performance.
“We always want their support but we’re focused on the objective, which is the match,” Coutinho told Brazil’s SportTV.
“Whistles or cheers, the important thing is to stay focused and get the win.” Brazil made a bright start and predictably dominated the early possession and chances
But surprisingly their greatest threat came from set-pieces with Coutinho’s corner delivery causing panic in the Bolivian backline.
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