Top seed Daniil Medvedev will face Reilly Opelka in the National Bank Open final after the American stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas in a three-set classic in Saturday's semi-finals.

World number 32 Opelka fought back from a set down in Toronto to knock out favoured third seed Tsitsipas in two hours and 32 minutes.

The 23-year-old American triumphed 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, booking a spot in his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Opelka sent down 17 aces but also hit 27 groundstroke winners in the shock victory over 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas who had beaten in-form Casper Ruud in the quarters.

"I played great," Opelka said in his on-court interview. “These courts suit my game, it is no coincidence that John Isner is in the other semi-final.

"Stefanos has definitely improved his returning. Come 5-5 in the first set, a lot of balls started to come back. He is a thinker and has a high tennis IQ, so it was expected, but that is what separates him from the rest of the pack."

Opelka was aided by an excellent first serve percentage of 72 per cent, winning 62 of 81 points when he made his first serve.

Both first two sets went to tiebreaks, with Tsitsipas failing to generate a break point until the third set. Opelka made the first break of the match in the seventh game of the third set and held serve twice after to seal victory.

World number two Medvedev cruised into the decider with a commanding win over John Isner in less than an hour.

Medvedev, who was runner-up in Toronto in 2019, won 6-2 6-2 over the big-serving American, with the match totaling 54 minutes.

Isner could only manage four trademark aces for the match, while the Russian had 11 and broke the American four times from seven opportunities.

Casper Ruud continued his excellent winning streak while Stefanos Tsitsipas made it a birthday to remember at the National Bank Open in Toronto.

Tsitsipas turned 23 on Thursday and marked the occasion with a 6-3 6-2 win over Karen Khachanov.

The Greek star was presented with a cake by tournament officials after his win, as the crowd serenaded him with a chant of 'happy birthday'.

It marks a significant improvement on when Tsitsipas turned 20. On that occasion, he lost the 2018 final of this event to Rafael Nadal.

Next up for Tsitsipas is Casper Ruud, who poked fun at his critics after he eased into the quarter-finals.

Ruud, the world number 12, won three titles on clay courts in July and has now continued that form in the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Playing on a hard court has proved no challenge for the in-form Norwegian, who wrote 'Hard Courts' with a smile underneath on the camera after his 6-4 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic on Thursday.

"I have seen a lot of people questioning my ability to play on hard court, so I just thought it was funny to write a little note," Ruud said in a news conference.

"I think it's fun to play on hard courts. Even though I (have achieved) most of my best results on clay, my best slam result is from this year’s Australian Open (where he reached the Round of 16), so I think it's a surface that also can suit my game well even though this year has been mainly clay.

“I think I'm motivated to come back to the hard courts. I have had two very good matches here. It's a great start for me to the hard-court swing."

Ruud, in the hunt for his fifth title of 2021, has won the only previous meeting between the duo.

"[I am] looking forward to that battle," Tsitsipas said. "We have played each other in the past. Not an easy guy to play against. Looking for a change, looking for a switch-up this time."

However, there was no place in the last eight for world number seven - and Olympic gold medallist - Andrey Rublev, who went down 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to American John Isner.

Fresh from a triumph in Atlanta, 36-year-old Isner has looked sharp all week and has now won eight successive matches.

It brings up a third quarter-final appearance for the world number 30 in Canada, and he will play French 11th seed Gael Monfils after he got past lucky loser Francis Tiafoe 6-1 7-6 (7-2). Monfils will be competing in his first ATP Tour quarter-final in 18 months.

Top seed Daniil Medvedev proved too good for Australian qualifier James Duckworth, winning 6-2 6-4 in one hour and eight minutes.

Medvedev was in ominous form on the hard court, sending down 10-1 aces and winning 27 of 32 points on his first serve.

The Russian world number two will play seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz who fought back to win 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 6-4 over Nicolas Basilashvili.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman lost in three sets to 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut after the Spaniard saved three match points.

Bautista Agut will next play Reilly Opelka who came from behind, and also saved a match point, to win over Lloyd Harris in three.

Canadian fifth seed Denis Shapovalov was a major casualty in the second round of the National Bank Open in Toronto after a straight-sets defeat to Francis Tiafoe.

Unseeded American Tiafoe swept aside the local 6-1 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes to secure his third-round spot against 11th seed Gael Monfils who beat John Millman 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Tiafoe was only in the Toronto main draw as a lucky loser after being defeated in qualifying by Emil Ruusuvuori but he hit 14 winners in an emphatic display.

World number 10 Shapovalov was unable to generate any break points while Tiafoe reeled off five games in a row, with two breaks, to win the first set.

The Canadian continued to struggle with his serve in windy conditions, as the American world number 52 won 88 per cent (23/26) of points on his first serve.

Another local hope, ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, also was eliminated, going down 7-5 6-4 to Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

The Canadian hit six aces to Lajovic's none, but was undone by unforced errors at key times, with a double fault gifting the Serbian a 6-5 lead in the opening set.

Australian 12th seed Alex de Minaur also bowed out after a one-sided 6-1 6-1 defeat to Georgian world number 42 Nicolas Basilashvili.

Basilashvili sent down 6-2 aces and converted five of his six break points generated in an impressive display.

Australian qualifier Jack Duckworth booked a third-round ticket against top seed Daniil Medvedev after upsetting 16th seed Jannik Sinner, who won last week's Citi Open.

Fourth seed Andrey Rublev won through with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 victory over Fabio Fognini, while seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz progressed with a walkover after Kei Nishikori retired with a shoulder injury.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman beat Benoit Paire 7-5 6-1, while 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut handled Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4.

John Isner knocked out 13th seed Cristian Garin in three sets, while Lloyd Harris beat Feliciano Lopez in two and Karen Khachanov defeated compatriot Aslan Karatsev 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to secure a third-round meeting with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas pledged to help those affected by the fires in his homeland in his post-match press conference on Tuesday.

“My heart is with all the people of Greece,” Tsitsipas said. “I come from the south suburbs of Athens. When I was there a few days ago, I could see the fires from the south. Huge, giant clouds, smoke, which you could see from far, far away. It wasn't very nice. Even at the beach that day when I went to swim, you could see all the debris from the smoke and from the fires in the sea.”

Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas survived three-set scares at the National Bank Open on Tuesday, but five-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal departed Toronto without even taking the court. 

Top seed Medvedev, who won just three games against Nadal in the final in 2019, the last time the tournament was played, prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 in his opener against Alexander Bublik.

The man Nadal beat to win the title the previous year, Tsitsipas, failed to convert on five match points in an epic second-set tiebreak but recovered to down Ugo Humbert 6-3 6-7 (13-15) 6-1.

Nadal pulled out ahead of a scheduled match against Lloyd Harris, who beat him last week in Washington as the 20-time grand slam winner struggled with a foot injury. 

Countryman Feliciano Lopez replaces Nadal in the draw and will face Harris on Wednesday. 

Elsewhere Tuesday, sixth seed Casper Ruud needed more than two hours to put away Marin Cilic 6-3 3-6 6-3, while 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov suffered a quick 6-3 6-4 exit against big-serving American Reilly Opelka.

A pair of unseeded veterans advanced, with 2016 finalist Kei Nishikori a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 winner over Miomir Kecmanovic and John Isner defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokini 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour.

Two days after appearing in his first ATP Tour final at the Citi Open, Mackenzie McDonald fell 6-3 6-4 to Benoit Paire in his Toronto opener. 

In other first-round matches, Karen Khachanov beat Cameron Norrie 6-4 5-7 6-4, Frances Tiafoe downed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 6-3, Dusan Lajovic handled Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6 6-3 6-3 and Nikoloz Basilashvili defeated Jenson Brooksby 2-6 6-0 6-4.

Daniil Medvedev did not take kindly to a question over the controversy surrounding Russian athletes at the Tokyo Olympics after he battled through sweltering conditions to reach the quarter-finals.

Medvedev beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-2 3-6 6-2 on Wednesday in a match that was paused for 10 minutes due to on-court temperatures reaching 31 degrees Celsius, with humidity then adding to that.

The world number two had to receive medical attention on two occasions before he prevailed to tee up a last-eight tie with Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.

Top seed Novak Djokovic continued his march towards the medal matches with a routine win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, though in the doubles, Andy Murray's hopes of winning a historic fourth Olympic prize were shattered.

 

MEDVDEV'S TEMPER FRAYS IN THE HEAT

It had already been a stressful day for Medvedev. The 25-year-old replied "I can finish the match but I can die. If I die, are you going to be responsible?" when asked by chair umpire Carlos Ramos whether he could carry on playing against Fognini following two medical timeouts. 

Medvedev's temper then boiled over in the media mixed zone when he was questioned over the contentious nature of Russian athletes competing at the Games.

The Russian flag is not represented in Tokyo due to sanctions against the country for state-sponsored doping offences. Russia is suspended from competing in global sporting events for two years – a ban that was reduced from an initial four-year punishment. Instead, athletes are competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Medvedev was asked if he feels the Russian athletes are "carrying a stigma of cheaters".

Seemingly misunderstanding the question, Medvedev hardly held back in his reaction, saying: "That's the first time in my life I’m not gonna answer a question, man. And you should be embarrassed of yourself."

Before leaving the room, Medvedev subsequently told the press officer: "I think you should [remove] him from either the Olympic Games, either the tennis tournament. I don't wanna see him again in my interviews. Thanks."

MURRAY'S PARIS PARTICIPATION IN DOUBT

There was to be no fairytale title tilt for former world number one Murray. He won gold in the singles in London and Rio, and also managed a silver medal at the 2012 Games in the mixed doubles, but he and Joe Sailsbury suffered a defeat to Croatian pair Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in the quarter-finals.

The British pair won the first set but failed to make their advantage count, with Croatia's duo coming back to win 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-7.

Murray will be 37 by the time the Paris Games come around, and as he continues to carefully manage his return from hip surgery, the Scot could well have made his Olympic farewell.

"I don't know. I don't know if I'll get the opportunity to play [in the Olympics] again," he conceded.

"I love every minute of playing the Olympics. I wish that today would have gone differently. I had another chance with Joe to win a medal. We were so close and that is just disappointing. There was some stuff I wish I could have done at the end of the match to try and help out more. But yeah, very disappointing."

MIXED BAG FOR TSITSIPAS

While Medvedev, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev all progressed into the last eight in the singles, there was no place for Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose hopes were ended by Ugo Humbert.

The Greek world number four suffered a seemingly innocuous leg injury in the second set tie-break and failed to recover in the decider as Frenchman Humbert claimed the biggest win of his career.

However, Tsitsipas was swiftly back on court to play in the mixed doubles alongside partner Maria Sakkari, and the duo claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory over Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Asked after that win to discuss what went wrong in his earlier defeat, Tsitsipas replied: "I figured out a few things later during the match, like really, really late. 

"I think if I've had the same mindset or the same attitude, same vision that I had towards the very end of the match, I think things would have gone much, much smoother and better for me. It's something that I learned."

He also confirmed his injury was "nothing serious."

DJOKOVIC ON A ROLL

As expected, Djokovic is one win away from a shot at a medal in the singles, and he then followed up his victory over Davidovich Fokina by combining with Nina Stojanovic in the mixed doubles.

The Serbian pair beat Marcelo Melo and Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-3 6-4 in just 70 minutes to book their place in the next round.

Djokovic will have the host nation against him in his next match, however, as he takes on Kei Nishikori, who is Japan's only hope of a singles medal after Naomi Osaka's exit.

Kei Nishikori was as surprised as anybody by Naomi Osaka going out of the Tokyo Olympics, but stressed it did not add to pressure on his shoulders.

Japan's two standard-setters in tennis are at opposite ends of their careers, with Nishikori seemingly in a slow decline and Osaka expected to add significantly to her four grand slams.

But the focus on the Japanese public looks set to switch to Nishikori for the rest of the tennis, after he reached the last-16 stage with a 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-1 win over American Marcos Giron on Tuesday.

Former world number four Nishikori and Ben McLachlan are through to the doubles quarter-finals too, which may be a likelier route to a medal.

Nishikori already has a bronze to his name from the 2016 Games, where he beat Rafael Nadal in the third-place match.

When asked whether he felt expectations shifting from Osaka on to his shoulders, after she lost to Marketa Vondrousova, Nishikori said: "Not really. I just need to focus on what I have to do on the court.

"It's very sad, of course, that Naomi lost and a surprise. But I knew she had a lot of pressure, this is her first time in the Olympics and I know it's not easy.

"I didn't see her match today, so I cannot say much."

Should Nishikori, now down at 69th in the rankings, beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus on Wednesday, that could set up a quarter-final against hot favourite Novak Djokovic.


REVENGE FOR VILLAGE FAN TSITSIPAS

It was a weary Stefanos Tsitsipas who was pummelled in the first round of Wimbledon by Frances Tiafoe last month. On Tuesday, a more predictable outcome manifested as Greece's great hope scored a 6-3 6-4 victory over his American opponent.

That loss in London came barely a fortnight after Tsitsipas suffered a heartbreaking loss to Djokovic in the French Open final, from two sets up, and he was succinct with his verdict about what was different this time.

"Concentration and attention levels," was the Tsitsipas assessment.

Next for him is a testing third-round tussle with French shot-maker Ugo Humbert, and Tsitsipas will want to hang around, having been charmed by the Olympic Village experience after so long in the tennis bubble.

"It's a different contrast, it's a different approach completely," Tsitsipas said. "I've made friendships, connected with some other athletes. It's nice to be able to experience something like this. I find the Olympics are really a nice sports event.

"I met a big tennis enthusiast from India. He's doing shooting and we became good friends. I met some of the other Greek athletes, table tennis players, and rowers from different countries."


BRILLIANT BROADY

Liam Broady was a late addition to the Olympics draw and is making the most of the opportunity, with the unheralded British left-hander scoring a terrific 7-5 3-6 6-3 second-round win over Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz.

Frenchman Jeremy Chardy awaits Broady after beating Russian Olympic Committee's Aslan Karatsev in three sets.

There were also wins on Tuesday for Karatsev's countryman Karen Khachanov and Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, while Wednesday's programme features the entire third-round line-up, including Djokovic's clash with Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics tennis with a 6-1 6-4 defeat to Czech world number 42 Marketa Vondrousova.

Osaka, who lit the flame at Friday's opening ceremony, had won her opening two matches but bowed out in straight sets, with Vondrousova reaching the quarter-finals.

In the first set, Vondrousova dominated on her first serve and broke three times, before the Japanese hit back with an early break in the second. But the Czech fought back to win, with Osaka finishing with 32 unforced errors to just 10 by her opponent.

"Of course it's one of the biggest wins of my career," Vondrousova said. "Naomi is a great player, she has so many grand slams, so I knew it would be a tough match. I'm very happy with my play. I played amazingly in the first set, and then the second set was really tough. I'm just happy to be through."

World number two Osaka joins top seed and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty in being eliminated early at the Tokyo Games.

In the men's singles second round, fourth-ranked Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past American Francis Tiafoe 6-3 6-4, avenging a shock Wimbledon defeat.


DUFFY DELIGHT

Flora Duffy won Bermuda's first-ever Olympic gold medal with victory in the women's triathlon on Tuesday at Odaiba Marine Park.

The four-time Olympian failed to finish in Beijing, came 45th in London and improved to eighth in Rio de Janeiro.

Duffy took the Tokyo title in a time of one hour, 55 minutes and 36 seconds, finishing more than a minute ahead of Britain's Georgia Taylor-Brown who took silver, with USA's Katie Zaferes claiming bronze.

“It's always been my dream to race at the Olympics and be a professional athlete with the goal of being an Olympic champion," Duffy said.

"That's not the easiest thing to do regardless of where you're from. Bermuda is a small country, but it's really passionate about its sport.

“I'm so grateful that I could achieve a personal dream here of winning an Olympic medal, but this is bigger than me, this is going to inspire the youth of Bermuda and everyone back home that competing on the world stage from a small island is really possible."

The 33-year-old broke clear in a group of seven early in the bike stage, before dominating the 10km run.

Bermuda, which has a population of just over 70,000, had only claimed one medal previously in Olympic history, a bronze in 1976.


MCKEOWN BREAKS OLYMPIC RECORD

Australia secured a second gold medal in the pool as Kaylee McKeown broke the Olympic record in the women's 100m backstroke.

McKeown won in 57.47, finishing ahead of Canada's Kylie Masse by 0.25 seconds, with USA's Regan Smith taking bronze. Masse had led at the turn.

In the men's 100m backstroke, Russian Olympic Committee claimed a one-two finish as Evgeny Rylov edged out countryman Kliment Kolesnikov, who holds the 50m world record. Ryan Murphy, who is the world record holder across 100m, claimed bronze.

Great Britain's Tom Dean won the men's 200m freestyle by 0.04, marginally ahead of compatriot Duncan Scott, with Brazil's Fernando Scheffer coming in third. The result meant two British male swimmers stood on the same Olympic podium for the first time since 1908.

World record holder Lilly King finished third as US teenager Lydia Jacoby triumphed in the women's 50m breaststroke. South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker claimed silver.


CHINESE PAIR ON TARGET

China claimed another gold medal in the final of the 10m air pistol mixed team at the Asaka Shooting Range.

China's Ranxin Jiang and Wei Pang won 16-14 over Russian Olympic Committee pair Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov.

Ukraine duo Olena Kostevych and Oleh Omelchuk won the bronze by beating Serbia.

The 10m air rifle mixed team bronze and gold medal matches were taking place later on Tuesday.


AUSSIES SINGING IN MEN'S HOCKEY

World number two side Australia knocked off reigning Olympic gold medallists Argentina 5-2 in the men's hockey group stage.

Australia claimed their third consecutive victory and top Group A, this time being aided by two goals from Blake Govers.

The Kookaburras have only won one Olympic gold despite often being a dominant side in men's hockey and are one of the favourites to triumph in Tokyo.

Japan and New Zealand, who both previously lost to Australia, drew 2-2 in the other Group A game.

In Group B, world number four India won 3-0 over Spain, while fifth-ranked Germany beat Great Britain 5-1.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is taking inspiration from the grandfather he has never met after battling through to round two of the men's singles at Tokyo 2020.

Alexander Zverev had an altogether more comfortable progression at Ariake Tennis Park, while home favourite Kei Nishikori earned an impressive upset win.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was unable to make the most of two-time defending champion Andy Murray's withdrawal, but it was a good day for Hubert Hurkacz. 

Here's the pick of the action from day two of the men's singles.

 

TSITSIPAS OUT TO EMULATE GRANDFATHER

Greek ace Tsitsipas, a French Open finalist this year, had to dig deep for a three-set win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Should he manage to win gold in the Japanese capital he would be matching the feat of his grandfather, who won the football competition representing the Soviet Union in 1956.

"I've never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it," he said. "He kind of inspires me in a way. I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I'm proud of him. 

"It's something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I'm happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics."

ZVEREV LOVING OLYMPICS EXPERIENCE

Fourth seed Zverev coasted past Lu Yen-hsun 6-1 6-3 and spoke of how much he is enjoying being around other German athletes.

"Normally you don't have those guys around that much, you have your friends, of course you have people that are around you, but you don't sleep in the same room as them," he said.

"Yes it is very different but in a way very enjoyable. The Olympics are once every four years, and it’s five years now, so I think everybody is enjoying it and everyone is having the best time that they can."

Nishikori is playing at a fourth Olympics and upset fifth seed Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-4. For the 31-year-old the motivation is simple.

"It's [playing in Japan] something I always dreamed of when I was little," he said. 

"Especially now, with the Covid situation, if I can win as many as I can, I think it will bring better news, that's something I'm trying to do this week."

AUGER-ALIASSIME FAILS TO MAKE MOST OF MURRAY ABSENCE

Auger-Aliassime was scheduled to face Murray before the Team GB star pulled out with a quad issue and will instead focus on doubles.

The Canadian was felled by Murray's replacement Max Purcell, though, the Australian winning 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Fellow seed Gael Monfils also crashed out but Hurkacz was a 6-2 6-4 victor over Luke Saville, while Diego Schwartzman also made it through.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will head into the Tokyo Olympics on the back of a disappointing quarter-final exit at the Hamburg European Open.

The world number four made a fast start to his match against Filip Krajinovic, winning the opening five games, but fell away to lose in three sets after an hour and 59 minutes.

Tsitsipas is due to represent Greece at the behind-closed-doors Games in Japan, where he will be among the medal favourites.

His racket bizarrely fell apart in the second set against Krajinovic, with Tsitsipas left clutching just the handle as the head broke off when he attempted a backhand.

Despite reaching for a replacement racket, Tsitsipas could not get the better of his 44th-ranked Serbian opponent.

Krajinovic said, according to the ATP website: "He started really well, really aggressively. I could not find my game, could not find my serve, he was overpowering me. But at the end of the first set, I started to feel better, I was going for my shots.

"It paid off in the end. I am happy to beat Tsitsipas, he is an amazing player. I always play well here, and I hope I keep playing well here."

Krajinovic advances to take on a fellow Serbian, Laslo Djere, in the semi-finals, after Djere swept to a 6-2 6-2 win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Spanish second seed Pablo Carreno Busta prevented a third Serbian reaching the final four, beating Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, and he will face Federico Delbonis on Saturday.

At the Nordea Open in Bastad, Sweden, top seed Casper Ruud had his path to the semi-finals smoothed by the withdrawal of scheduled opponent Henri Laaksonen due to injury.

That walkover means Norwegian Ruud will next tackle Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Slovakian Norbert Gombos 6-4 6-2.

Chilean second seed Cristian Garin bowed out, beaten 6-4 4-6 6-2 by Argentinian Federico Coria. Coria's semi-final opponent will be Germany's Yannick Hanfmann, a 6-4 6-3 victor over French qualifier Arthur Rinderknech.

Frances Tiafoe is confident he can cause further shocks at Wimbledon after he claimed the impressive scalp of third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round on Monday.

Unseeded American Tiafoe ousted Tsitsipas in straight sets, winning 6-4 6-4 6-3 to make the Greek the first major casualty of the men's draw.

Tsitsipas was in action for the first time since losing the French Open final to Novak Djokovic on June 13 and struggled to cope with Tiafoe's aggressive style, suffering a break of serve in the very first game.

While that was the only break of the first set, it gave Tsitsipas a deficit he never recovered from, and he was broken again at 4-4 in the second as Tiafoe made his lead even more commanding.

Tiafoe then saw things out impressively, his 17 winners to his opponent's 10 in the third set reflecting the American's greater confidence as he made Tsitsipas the first third seed to lose in the opening round of the grass-court tournament since Andre Agassi in 1996.

 

And Tiafoe reckons there is more where that came from.

"Definitely one of my best [performances], from start to finish it was pretty clean," the 23-year-old told the BBC.

"This is what you train for this is what it's all about. I live for these kind of moments.

"I'm not even close to where I want to be. I've had a lot of great achievements but I haven't even scratched the surface I feel personally.

"Today was big, I definitely needed that, a guy at his level, that guy's special, he's going to do a lot of great things, win a ton of grand slams but not today."

Tiafoe will face Vasek Pospisil or Roberto Carballes Baena in the next round.

After an enforced hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, tennis returns to SW19.

Novak Djokovic makes his way back to Wimbledon as the defending champion and with the men's grand slam record firmly in his sight.

Djokovic conquered Rafael Nadal en route to French Open glory and his 19th slam crown – one shy of the record shared by rivals Nadal and Roger Federer.

With Nadal and Dominic Thiem absent, Djokovic's path to a 20th major trophy has opened up in London.

The women's title is up for grabs after holder Simona Halep withdrew, and Serena Williams can still dream of making history.

As all eyes shift to the All England Club, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

Dominant Djokovic

World number one and top seed Djokovic begins his title defence against promising Briton Jack Draper in the first round.

French Open champion Djokovic has won four of the last six Wimbledon tournaments, including each of the past two – the last player to win more at Wimbledon in a row was Federer between 2003 and 2007 (five).

A five-time Wimbledon winner, Djokovic is the only man to have won the first two grand slam tournaments of a calendar year over the last 25 years, doing it in 2016 and 2021. The last man to win the first three grand slams of a calendar year was Rod Laver during his Grand Slam in 1969.

The 2019 Wimbledon final was the first slam decider to be decided by a final set tie-break, with Djokovic beating Federer 7-3 in that tiebreak, while it was also the longest final in Wimbledon history (four hours, 57 minutes).

No man has won Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Nadal in 2010.

 

Federer farewell?

The curtain appears to be closing on all-time great Federer, who withdrew from the French Open after a draining four-set win over Dominik Koepfer to preserve his body for the grass season.

This year's Wimbledon could be the 39-year-old's final realistic shot at a grand slam as Djokovic bids to become the greatest of all.

Seeded sixth, Federer – who meets Adrian Mannarino first up – has won the most Wimbledon titles among all male players in the slam's history.

Federer will aim to win his 21st grand slam, which would break a tie with Nadal for the outright men's record.

 

The 'Big Four' and their stranglehold

Injuries have forced two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to fall out of the equation but there has been no getting past the original 'Big Four'.

Among the men, the last 17 years of Wimbledon has been dominated by the same four players – Federer (eight titles), Djokovic (five), Nadal (two), Murray (two). The last winner at Wimbledon before them was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

Since Wimbledon in 2004, only one of the 68 slams has not seen at least one of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal in the semi-finals – it was at the US Open last year.

The new generation is headlined by grand slam runners-up Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev has never passed the third round at Wimbledon, though his two defeats at that stage have both been in five sets. The Russian second seed has reached at least the quarter-finals in three of his last four major tournaments, after reaching that stage in only one of his previous 13.

Beaten by Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, Tsitsipas has reached the semi-finals in his last three slams, having done so only once in his previous 12. The third seed has never reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, however.

Wimbledon is the only slam where fourth seed Alexander Zverev is yet to reach the quarter-final, his best result being a fourth-round performance in 2017. Since the beginning of 2020, he has advanced to the semi-finals in three slam tournaments, after never doing it in his previous 18 such major main-draw appearances.

 

Serena's ongoing quest

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

Williams, who lost in the French Open fourth round, has won seven Wimbledon titles (level with Steffi Graf) – only Martina Navratilova has more in the Open Era (nine).

American superstar Williams has been a Wimbledon runner-up in 2018 and 2019. Chris Evert is the only player in the Open Era to have lost three consecutive Wimbledon finals (between 1978 and 1980).

Williams, the sixth seed who will clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening round, is looking to become only the second woman to win 100 Wimbledon singles matches (currently 98), alongside Navratilova (120). She could also become the first woman to reach 100-plus wins in two different majors (106 wins at the US Open).

From the first Wimbledon final reached by one Williams sister in 2000 (won by Venus against Lindsay Davenport), only in four of 20 editions has neither of the two sisters reached the decider – in 2006 (Amelie Mauresmo-Justine Henin), 2011 (Petra Kvitova-Maria Sharapova), 2013 (Marion Bartoli-Sabine Lisicki) and 2014 (Kvitova-Eugenie Bouchard).

 

Barty party?

Former French Open champion Ash Barty heads to Wimbledon as the top seed and will kick off her title bid against veteran Carla Suarez Navarro.

However, world number one Barty has never reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Reaching the 2019 fourth round was her best result. The last Australian woman to reach the quarters at Wimbledon was Jelena Dokic in 2000.

The top seed in the Wimbledon women's singles main draw has been eliminated in the first round just three times in the Open Era – Graf in 1994, Martina Hingis in 1999 and Hingis again in 2001.

Wimbledon is the only major won by Kvitova in her career (2011 and 2014). She is one among the three current players with multiple titles at the All England Club, alongside Serena and Venus Williams.

Karolina Pliskova was the woman with the most aces per match made on average at Wimbledon 2019 (9.0, 36 in total) among players who reached the third round.

Novak Djokovic is chasing more records following his history-making triumph after the world number one's French Open crown brought him closer to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for tennis supremacy.

Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to claim two or more titles at each of the four grand slams thanks to Sunday's stunning 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Serbian star Djokovic was two sets down on Court Philippe Chatrier, where he also became the first player in the Open Era to win a slam from two sets behind for his 19th major crown.

"I am thrilled and I'm very proud of this achievement," Djokovic – who upstaged clay specialist and defending champion Nadal in the semi-finals – told reporters afterwards. "I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me.

"I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career. Going through a four-and-a-half battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practicing yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first grand slam finals.

"It's always, of course, a bit tricky because you're playing for your trophy, for your first grand slam trophy, but you don't have much to lose. So I knew that he's going to probably start off very well, which was the case. It was a very close first set. Kind of gone a different way, but he was just the better player in those clutch moments. Second set I dropped physically and mentally I think a little bit. I just got fatigued a bit, just allowed him to kind of dominate the second set pretty much.

"Then went out from the court, as was the case against [Lorenzo] Musetti in the fourth round when I was two sets down, and came back as a different player. Just refreshed, managed to make a break, early break in the third. After that, I felt like I got into his head. I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. The momentum was on my side, it shifted. There was no looking back from that moment."

Djokovic is now just one trophy shy of equalling the record for most grand slam singles titles on the men's tour, currently shared by Nadal and Federer.

The 34-year-old insisted he will continue to chase records, with the ageing Nadal and Federer firmly in his sight.

"I never thought it was a mission impossible to reach the grand slams of these guys," Djokovic said. "I'm not there, but it's one less. But they are still playing. Obviously, they're playing great, especially Rafa with his level. We all have still opportunities at Wimbledon, all the other slams.

"You have four slams a year, so we're all competing for this amazing achievement and amazing trophies. I'll keep on going. I'll keep on chasing. At the same time, I'll keep on paving my own path, which is my own authentic path. We all three of us have our own journeys, and that's it."

Among those records is the golden grand slam – winning all four calendar majors as well as gold at the Olympic Games – with Wimbledon, the rescheduled Tokyo Games and US Open still to come in 2021 following his Australian Open success.

"Everything is possible. Definitely in my case I can say that what I've been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far," added Djokovic. "I've achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve. Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the golden slam.

"But, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible. So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days' time.

"I don't have an issue to say that I'm going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am. I was really happy to know that we are going to play Wimbledon this year, considering we haven't played it last year. I've had great success in the last couple of Wimbledon seasons that were played. I won in '18 and '19 there. Hopefully, I can keep that run going. I like the grass. Over the years I think I improved on grass, I adjusted my game. Hopefully, I can use this confidence that I have right now into Wimbledon, as well. Then let's take it from there."

Stefanos Tsitsipas "could easily have cried" after seeing his French Open dream crushed by Novak Djokovic but insists there is "no reason" he cannot be a future champion.

In his first grand slam final, the 22-year-old looked to be cantering to victory when he moved two sets up against the world number one.

However, much as he did in his fourth-round win over Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic left the court before the start of the third set and returned a different competitor, going on to win 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 after more than four hours on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Tsitsipas had little answer to the resurgent Djokovic, who became the first male player in the Open era to win every grand slam at least twice as he moved onto 19 in his career, one behind record-holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Tsitsipas struggled to answer why his game began to let him down in the final three sets as he cut a disconsolate figure when speaking to the media afterwards.

"I felt like my rhythm was off [after the second set]," he said. "I really don't know why. It was very strange considering that I started finding my rhythm, finding my shots, my movement on the court was perfect, and suddenly just felt cold and out of it.

"It was difficult to readjust. I felt like I kind of lost my game a little bit. I really wish I could understand why things like this happened and evolved. But I was trying to figure it out during my game. It was difficult to come up with something.

"It's very unfortunate, very sad in the same way because it was a good opportunity. I was playing good. I was feeling good. Yeah, I lost an opportunity to do something better today.

"What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two. Two sets doesn't really mean anything. It's still one away [from] winning the entire match."

Tsitsipas admitted Djokovic seemed rejuvenated as the third set got underway, saying: "He left the court after two sets to love down, I don't know what happened there, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly.

"I don't know. I have no idea. He played really well. He gave me no space. [I] felt physically, anticipation maybe, just movement on the court, everything felt much more fresh and much better than before. I kind of felt like he could read my game a bit better suddenly. Good for him. He did well to get there."

Tsitsipas, who will move to number four in the world after reaching the final, is one of the prime contenders to lead the way when the so-called 'big three' finally call time on their careers.

The Greek beat Roger Federer at the 2019 Australian Open and Rafael Nadal in Melbourne this year, while he has twice beaten Djokovic at Masters 1000 events.

"I believe, yes, I'm able to play for titles like this," he added. "Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon.

"I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There's a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before.

"But I think with the same attitude and the same... if I don't downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.

"I played two good sets. I wouldn't call them incredible. I just played really well. It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough. That's a grand slam for you. It's the way it is.

"I don't think I have regrets. Could have easily cried, but I see no reason for me crying because I tried everything. I couldn't come up with anything better."

Novak Djokovic backed Stefanos Tsitsipas to bounce back from the French Open final defeat that left the Greek star shell-shocked.

As Djokovic inked more achievements into the tennis record books, he did so at the expense of a player who surely thought his grand slam moment had come when he led the world number one by two sets.

Just as the crowd inside Court Philippe Chatrier prepared for a new champion to be crowned, Djokovic dug in, scrambling, scurrying and showing incredible levels of energy to snatch a 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory from what was almost a lost cause.

Having come through an exhausting four-hour battle with Rafael Nadal, the greatest of all Roland Garros champions, on Friday, it was mesmerising to watch Djokovic pick apart another world-class opponent in a marathon contest.

This was a match featuring the third largest age gap between French Open men's singles finalists in the Open Era, with Djokovic, at 34, showing a freshness that 22-year-old Tsitsipas could only admire in the closing stages. It marked the first time in Djokovic's great career that he has won a slam final from a two-set deficit.

Tsitsipas will not forget his first slam final in a hurry, but he would surely want to.

"I would like to say a few words to Stefanos," Djokovic said in an on-court interview. "I can relate to what he's going through. I understand how difficult that is, losing in the final of a grand slam.

"These are the kind of matches, the kind of occasions, you learn from the most, I think.

"Knowing him and his team, he's going to come out much stronger from this match and I definitely believe he's going to win many grand slams in the future. So respect to you and your team."

Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to rack up two or more titles at each of the four grand slams, and he has 19 such victories altogether now, just one behind the all-time record that is shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"It's truly a dream to be here and play a great match for one of the great trophies in our sport," Djokovic said.

"This is a tournament that gives me a lot of inspiration. I've needed the inspiration. I'm not as young as Stefanos. I have to search every day for new inspiration.

"It's sure that my great motivations are my children and my wife and all my team, who give me so much support and love. Without them it wouldn't be possible for me to be here. I'm proud and happy."

The body language of Tsitsipas showed he was obviously crestfallen and suffering, a post-match speech just a reminder of the pain he had been subjected to at the hands of the world number one.

"It was a big fight out there. I tried my best, I tried as much as I could but Novak played better," Tsitsipas said.

"It was my first time being here in the finals. I had a good run and I'm happy with myself, but let's give it to Novak. He's showed us in the last couple of years what a great champion he is, how consistent he has been.

"I would say I'm inspired by the things he has achieved so far and I hope one day I can maybe do half of what he has done so well."

From chump to champ, bonehead to figurehead. What a difference a year makes.

On this weekend in 2020, Novak Djokovic was partying like it was, well, 2019, after the first leg of the Adria Tour, limbo-dancing in a Belgrade cabaret club, mask-free, carefree, some might say cluelessly.

Within days, he had tested positive for COVID-19, as had Djokovic's wife Jelena, along with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Goran Ivanisevic. The tournament that Djokovic had organised was in disarray and plans to take it to five Balkan cities were abandoned when the second event in Zadar was called off before its final.

Nick Kyrgios, incredulous at home in Australia, called it a "boneheaded" decision to play the events, and Djokovic made a grovelling apology, saying he was "so deeply sorry" for the harm that had been caused.

The main tennis tours had ground to a necessary halt, but Djokovic could not resist moving, cavorting.

He might feel like hitting up a Parisian nightclub after Sunday's breathtaking comeback against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final, the first time he has come from two sets down to win a grand slam final, but even if they were open, Djokovic has probably learnt his lesson. He taught Tsitsipas a thing or two in this Roland Garros epic, too, primarily this: however much a grand slam title match feels in your control, these major finals are not like any you have played before.

So now Djokovic has 19 major titles, one behind all-time leaders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal heading into Wimbledon in two weeks' time. He is the first man in the Open Era to win two or more titles at each of the four grand slams.

When Tsitsipas followed a thrilling opening set here by breezing through the second against the world number one, establishing a two-set cushion, his maiden slam final was going as well as he could possibly have hoped. His serve was potent, his biggest shots were landing in, and he had the measure of Djokovic's delivery: the Serbian won just 35 per cent of points on his second serve over those opening two sets.

Nine winners to just two unforced errors from Tsitsipas in that second set showed who was in charge. Djokovic had taken an early fall in the match: was that a factor?

Yet in the fourth game of the third set, Djokovic landed a punch so loaded that it caused Tsitsipas to wobble for the next hour, saving three game points on the Greek's serve before snatching the break at his own fourth opportunity.

The 11-minute game evoked memories of how Djokovic took down Nadal in their magnificent semi-final, Tsitsipas flinging a despairing backhand just wide to slide 3-1 behind, his resistance broken, his momentum gone.

Djokovic has suffered in the past following marathon grand slam semi-finals, including in Paris last October when he battled past Tsitsipas in five and then won just seven games against Nadal.

Friday's four hours and 11 minutes of hard battle against Nadal was as draining as such matches come, so from where had Djokovic found this renewed energy? Tsitsipas, seeing the title slip away, needed a big sip from whatever well from which the Serbian was drinking.

An astonishing angled drop shot from Djokovic in the third game of the decider showed his scrambling, sprinting energy was only heightening in its intensity, and he backed up that effort with a break moments later.

Tsitsipas had largely rediscovered his game, but the prospect of a pair of first-time singles champions at Roland Garros, for the first time since the Gaston Gaudio-Anastasia Myskina double in 2004, was ebbing away. It was soon all over.

After the Adria Tour howler and his US Open disqualification clanger, Djokovic began his 2021 season on a positive note with a ninth Australian Open title. Now he has a second French Open, and we can seriously start to think about a calendar year sweep of the grand slams. He has won seven of his majors since turning 30, the most by anyone in the Open Era, and it feels safe to say there are more to come.

Twelve months ago, it was a case of 'how low can you go?' as Djokovic dipped under that limbo pole.

Suddenly we can start to ask: are there no limits to the heights this remarkable man might scale?

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