Nick Kyrgios has refused to stem the criticism he has unleashed on Novak Djokovic over the last few months, over a range of issues, most of them coronavirus related, and yesterday was no less. Responding to a tweet that quoted Djokovic, Kyrgios accepted that the Serbian was a ‘hell of a tennis player’ and may go unbeaten this year. But, those two sentences were the extent of his admiration.
“Unfortunately when he was supposed to show some leadership and humility he went missing,” the rest of Kyrgios’ read. “Majority would say he has taken an L regardless.”
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Kyrgios’ criticism of Djokovic started last year, on a podcast where he called the Serbian’s celebrations ‘cringe-worthy’. On the same podcast he called Nadal ‘super salty’ before going to face him in a highly acrimonious match at Wimbledon.
But this year, Kyrgios’ callouts have been more to the point, where he has dropped the blame for the disastrous Adria Tour firmly on Djokovic’s feet, accused him of flouting Covid-19 physical distancing protocols and disregarding public safety entirely.
Djokovic, responding to this criticism (not specifically restricted to Kyrgios) called it a ‘witch-hunt’ and recently expressed no regrets over organising the event. To which, Kyrgios again had a swift and easy reply. “Scary that people take zero ownership. Group of albatrosses,” he wrote.
Djokovic in Quarters, Murray Out
His social stances may be debatable and criticism worthy, but on court the Serbian kept up his unbelievable 2020 form intact, winning his 20th match in a row, beating Tennya Sandgren 6-2, 6-4 at the Western and Southern Open in New York. The tournament serves as a warm up for the US Open set to be hosted at the same venue later this month.
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“All in all it was just a great performance,” said Djokovic. “I felt better and I played better than I did last night. Everything is going in the right direction.”
Djokovic broke Sandgren thrice in their encounter and will face the fourth seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff at the quarterfinals. The German player registered a topsy turvy, 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over David Goffin on Tuesday.
Andy Murray, who has recently started discovering his best form, after a long battle with injury, a hip surgery and what seemed like an early retirement from the game, lost his quarter final against Milos Raonic who will face Filip Krajinovic next. On Monday, Murray had reinvigorated hopes of a fairy tale return to form, with a victory against fifth seed Alexander Zverev. In the other quarters, Stefanos Tsitsipas plays Reilly Opelka, and last year’s US Open runner up Daniil Medvedev plays Roberto Bautista Agut.
Sakkari Defeats Serena
On the women’s side, the seeds continued to tumble, the latest among them the biggest name in tennis right now. 25 year old, Maria Sakkari, in a shocking turn of events, recorded a superb comeback win — 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1 — against Serena Williams to progress to the quarter finals of the tournament.
"I haven't realized it yet," Sakkari said after the match. "It feels pretty good, because she has been a role model for me growing up, and obviously what she has achieved is huge. So it feels very nice," Sakkari said in her post match interview.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion — one of the favourites to win almost every tournament she enters — began with a bright opening set before Sakkari leveled the game but Williams lifted up the pace again to gain an advantage in the rain-delayed match. In the second set, Williams trailed 3-1, before reeling off four games in a row and was serving for the match when things went awry.
Sakkari, the World No. 21, dragged the set to a tie-break and levelled the contest at one set apiece. In the decider she surged away to a 5-0 lead and completed the upset win on her eighth match point with a powerful forehand.
Williams, in her post match interaction made mo excuses for her loss and insisted she had enough opportunities to put the match away, but did not take it.
"It was tough. I literally should have won that match. There was no excuse," she said. "I literally put myself in this situation. You know, it’s like dating a guy that you know sucks. That’s literally what I keep doing out here. It’s like I have got to get rid of this guy. It just makes no sense. It’s frustrating. It was hard... I had so many opportunities to win and I have to figure that one out, like how to start winning those matches again." Williams, at one point flung her racquet into the stands and also received a time violation.
Sakkari will compete against Greece’s Briton Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals, who won 6-4 6-2 against the Russian veteran, Vera Zvonareva. In the other quarters to be played later tonight, former US and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka will play Anett Kontaveit, Victoria Azarenka takes on Tunisian Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens will Jessica Pegula.
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