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Wimbledon champion Djokovic flying high again after ‘turbulence’

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London :After two years of turbulence Novak Djokovic was flying high in clear blue skies again after winning a fourth Wimbledon title he believes can act as a springboard to a glorious new chapter in his career.
A 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(3) defeat of Kevin Anderson on Centre Court ended a two-year hiatus in his Grand Slam title collecting and put him on 13 — fourth on the all-time list behind Pete Sampras (14), Rafael Nadal (17) and Roger Federer (20).
“I can’t look too far on the road because I have to embrace and cherish this kind of accomplishment,” the 31-year-old Serbian told reporters.
“If you asked me a month and a half ago whether I think I can win Wimbledon, part of me would say yes, I hope, but maybe I wasn’t that sure at that time of my level.
“This is obviously very pleasing and satisfying to be able to play the way I played in the last couple of tournaments, in Queen’s and Wimbledon.
“This is going to be a huge confidence boost and springboard for whatever is coming up and for the rest of my career.”
Novak Djokovic picks out a blade of grass and eats it as he celebrates his victory over Kevin Anderson
When Djokovic won his first French Open in 2016 he became the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time. He was top of the rankings and his iron-like grip on men’s tennis appeared unshakable.
Two years on he was bundled out of the quarter-finals at Roland Garros by unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato — his form still erratic after admitting he came back too early from surgery he underwent on his elbow in February.
That injury forced him to retire hurt at last year’s Wimbledon, miss the U.S. Open and bow out early at this year’s Australian Open.
He even suggested in a furious reaction to the Cecchinato defeat he might not even play at Wimbledon.
All that now looks like ancient history with Djokovic set to return to the world’s top 10 after falling outside the top 20 for the first time since 2006.
“There were several moments where I was frustrated and questioning whether I can get back to the desired level,” Djokovic, who produced a vintage performance to beat Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-finals, said.
“That makes this whole journey even more special for me. It’s easy to talk now. But I look back at it and I’m grateful that I went through these mixed emotions, turbulences, mentally moments of doubt and disappointment and frustration.
“It’s usually in a struggle that you get to know yourself, you get to have an opportunity to rise like a phoenix and evolve and get better.”
Djokovic said returning to work with long-time coach and mentor Marian Vajda this year had been a key part of the return to form. He had begun the year with former Czech player Czech Radek Stepanek and Andre Agassi as part of his entourage.
“We talked actually post-match (today). It seems like (Marian’s) planning to keep on working with me, which is great news. We going to keep on working till the end of the year for sure, then we’ll see after that,” Djokovic said.


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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