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Novak Djokovic: World No 1 suffers early exit at Monte Carlo Masters to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina | Tennis News

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Novak Djokovic’s defeat to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina marks the first time he has lost his opening match at a tournament since falling to Marin Klizan in Barcelona in 2018; the world No 1 ran out of steam in the deciding set to lose in two hours and 54 minutes

Last Updated: 12/04/22 7:36pm


Novak Djokovic suffered an early exit at the Monte Carlo Masters to Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, admitting he 'ran out of gas'

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Novak Djokovic suffered an early exit at the Monte Carlo Masters to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, admitting he ‘ran out of gas’

Novak Djokovic suffered an early exit at the Monte Carlo Masters to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, admitting he ‘ran out of gas’

Novak Djokovic’s lack of match fitness caught up with him at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday as the world No 1 exited the event at the hands of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Serb, playing in just his second event of the year, made 51 unforced errors in difficult conditions to go out 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 in the second round.

Djokovic returned to the court for the first time since Dubai in February, where he lost in the quarter-finals to Jiri Vesely, but the Spanish world No 46 was far stronger in the deciding set to run away with victory.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion had elected not to attempt to compete in the US hard-court swing due to restrictions relating to his Covid-19 vaccination status.

“I’m disappointed. No one likes to lose. We’re professional athletes. This is what we do. We go out on the court to compete and try to win against each other,” Djokovic said.

“I didn’t like the way I felt physically in the third set. I just ran out of the gas completely. Just couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.

“So I don’t like that feeling I experienced in the third set but I’m going to look with my team into reasons why that was the case and go back to the drawing board and hopefully next week will be better in Belgrade.”

Brazilian star Neymar and his PSG team-mate Marco Verratti helped Djokovic limber up with a game of 'keepy-up'

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Brazilian star Neymar and his PSG team-mate Marco Verratti helped Djokovic limber up with a game of ‘keepy-up’

Brazilian star Neymar and his PSG team-mate Marco Verratti helped Djokovic limber up with a game of ‘keepy-up’

A two-time winner in Monte Carlo, Djokovic was staring at a swift defeat when he lost the first set and was then immediately broken at the start of the second.

The Spaniard showed his inexperience with a needless dive at the start of the seventh game of the set, prompting injury fears and enabling Djokovic to reel off 10 points in a row as he broke back to love to wrestle the upper hand.

The momentum swung back in Davidovich Fokina’s direction when Djokovic, serving for the set, conjured four unforced errors to allow his opponent to break back and ultimately force a tie-break.

But having come back from 4-2 down to win the breaker, Djokovic’s lack of match practice told as he was broken three more times in a one-sided deciding set.

9 vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Monte Carlo Masters (most in best-of-three-sets)

9 vs Dominic Thiem at 2019 French Open

9 vs Rafael Nadal at 2012 French Open

9 vs Guillermo Lopez at 2005 Wimbledon

9 vs Marat Safin at 2005 Australian Open

“This win is so special to me because I grew up watching Nole (Djokovic) and I’m a big fan of his,” Davidovich Fokina said in his post-match interview.

“I knew Nole didn’t have the confidence because he didn’t play a lot this season. I had my chances in the beginning of the match and I took them.

“When he won the second set it was tough mentally, but I work hard to be focused. I had to be prepared for the war.”

Djokovic hopes to build his form for the French Open starting next month, where he will defend his crown.

“That’s the big goal of the clay season,” Djokovic said. “I knew a few days ago when I spoke to you… that it’s going to take time for me to really feel my best on the clay.

“That’s historically always been the case. Never played very well in the opening tournaments of the clay season. But it’s OK, I have to accept the defeat and keep working.”

Britain’s Dan Evans defeated Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-0 7-6 (7-4) in the opening match of the day to reach the second round of the prestigious clay-court tournament.

Last year’s semi-finalist will face David Goffin after the Belgian overcame Jiri Lehecka 6-4 6-3.

Cameron Norrie, who has surged into the world’s top 10, faces world No 37 Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Wednesday.

Nadal skips Barcelona Open, return date still uncertain

Rafael Nadal is still uncertain when he can return to competitive tennis

Rafael Nadal is still uncertain when he can return to competitive tennis

Rafael Nadal is still uncertain when he can return to competitive tennis after withdrawing from this month’s ATP event in Barcelona as he recovers from a rib injury.

The Spaniard, who has won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, was ruled out last month for up to six weeks with a stress fracture in his rib.

Nadal complained of a chest issue during his run to the final of the ATP 1000 event in Indian Wells last month.

Tests in Barcelona revealed “a stress fracture of the third left costal arch”.

Madrid and Rome host ATP Masters 1000 events next month and Nadal would be hoping to participate to get matches under his belt before the May 22-June 5 French Open, which he has won a record 13 times.

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Pedro Porro speaks about Tottenham for first time as flight and medical booked

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I

ncoming signing Pedro Porro has spoken publicly for the first time about his move to Tottenham ahead of boarding a plane to London.

Standard Sport understands the right-back will complete a £39million move from Sporting later on Tuesday, the final day of the January transfer window.

The move was thrown into doubt on Monday after Sporting reneged on the deal by asking for more money, despite Porro having said his goodbyes and with a medical in London booked.

Further talks have revived the transfer and Porro, who was absent from training and understood to be distraught by the hold ups, will now finalise the move on Deadline Day. He spoke to reporters at Lisbon airport on Monday evening.

He told CMTV: “I’m grateful to Sporting, I love the club.

“I didn’t train as I was only focused on the transfer to Spurs but I will always be thankful to the club.”

Porro is expected at Hotspur Way on Monday evening, where he will stay overnight before becoming a Spurs player on Tuesday.



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Derby 0 – 2 West Ham

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West Ham booked a fifth-round FA Cup tie at boss David Moyes’ former club
Manchester United with a comfortable 2-0 win at Derby.

Jarrod Bowen’s third goal in two games gave the Hammers a first-half lead and Michail Antonio headed home their second five minutes after break.

The Londoners made it back-to-back wins after beating Everton 2-0 to climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three nine days go and rarely needed to hit top gear as they halted League One side Derby’s 19-game unbeaten run.

West Ham's Michail Antonio, left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English FA Cup 4th round soccer match between Derby County and West Ham at Pride Park stadium in Derby, England, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Image:
Michail Antonio also got on the scoresheet for the Hammers

West Ham boss Moyes now faces a reunion with former side Man Utd at Old Trafford in the last 16 after being drawn to face the Red Devils in the draw just before Monday night’s routine win at Pride Park. The match will take place in the week commencing February 27.

How West Ham eased past Derby

Paul Warne’s side are flying high in fourth place in the third tier and there were high hopes of an upset among the home faithful before kick-off in a Pride Park crowd of 25,308.

Derby forward Tom Barkhuizen wasted no time in breaching West Ham’s defence, scampering clear in the opening minute before his cut-back was scrambled clear.

Bowen shot tamely at Derby goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith soon after, but was not so wasteful in the 10th minute.

Antonio’s ball over the top caught Derby flat-footed and Bowen volleyed home Tomas Soucek’s neat headed pass from six yards.

Derby’s best move of the half saw James Collins volley just off target after Barkhuizen had run on to Craig Forsyth’s dinked pass to pick out the Derby striker with a fine cross.

Barkhuizen and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing offered Derby’s best hopes of getting back on level terms before the break, but they had no shots on target in the first period.

The good news for Rams fans at the break was their side were still in the tie against a top-flight side who were not at their best.

But five minutes into the second period the home side fell 2-0 behind. Derby skipper Curtis Davies’ sliced clearance span into Bowen’s path down the right and his cross was headed in at the far post by Antonio after deflecting off Forsyth.

Warne sent on four substitutes – Eiran Cashin, Liam Thompson, Lewis Dobbin and Tony Springett – soon after and their fresh legs gave Derby a lift.

Haydon Roberts was an inch away from connecting fully with Dobbin’s excellent cross, but the Rams were soon back-pedalling again.

Bowen was denied in quick succession by Wildsmith’s point-blank save and Cashin’s last-ditch tackle before Ben Johnson’s angled drive was kept out by the Derby goalkeeper.

The Rams were full of endeavour until the final whistle and Dobbin was close to being rewarded for an impressive cameo display when shooting straight at Alphonse Areola, but on the night County could not bridge the gulf in class.

Bowen: You’ve got to beat the best to win the cup

Jarrod Bowen said “to be the best you’ve got to beat the best” after West Ham were drawn to face United in the fifth round.

“I found out (about the draw) on the bench. We’ve got Man Utd away so listen it’s never easy and if we want to be successful in these competitions we’ve got to beat the best teams,” Bowen told ITV Sport.

“With respect to Man United they’re a top top team but we’ve been there plenty of times before and you’ve got to beat the best to be the best.”

Bowen added: “It was nice to score against Everton and tonight as well. I think the situation that we’re in, any sort of confidence from any player…

“The last two to be involved with was very good for me but I think for us, two wins on the bounce as well, two good results for us and it’s all about momentum in this game and I think we can use this going forward.”

Warne: We can’t knock the lads

Derby manager Paul Warne told ITV Sport: “In fairness West Ham played a professional performance, at times I thought we went toe-to-toe but I don’t think we did enough to score unfortunately.

“We can’t knock the lads tonight, we asked them to be the best versions of themselves against a Premier League team so not bad.

“But we probably didn’t have enough graft in the final third but I can’t really knock them and we know West Ham haven’t got an easy draw next but I wish them a sincere good luck.

“I thought the lads gave a good account of themselves at times and at times they were punching.”

What’s next?

Derby return to League One action on Saturday at home to Morecambe – kick-off 3pm – before travelling to Wycombe on Saturday February 11; kick-off 3pm.

West Ham’s next game is away to Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm.


Saturday 4th February 5:00pm


Kick off 5:30pm

The Hammers then host London rivals Chelsea on Saturday February 11; kick-off 12.30pm.



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NFL’s ratio of Black QBs to Black head coaches is all wrong

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Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts
Photo: AP

Marlin Briscoe is smiling in heaven. Doug Williams probably has a huge grin on his face. The first Black starting quarterback in NFL history — Briscoe — and the first Black quarterback to start and win Super Bowl MVP — Williams — are the giants whose shoulders Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts are standing on. And between Rihanna’s halftime performance and the fact that we’re about to watch history made as two Black quarterbacks take center stage in sports’ biggest game — you could make the case that it’s destiny, given that it will all take place during Black History Month.

But, don’t let this moment distract you from the fact that Black coaches are still getting a raw deal at a time in which Black quarterbacks are being elevated like never before. Two things can be true at once, this is why this moment is such a joyous, yet infuriating one.

Sixteen years after we watched Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy make history as the first two Black head coaches to appear in the Super Bowl, we’re watching Mahomes and Hurts do it for Black quarterbacks. But since that February day in 2007, things for Black coaches have seemed to fall apart as they’ve improved for Black quarterbacks.

Eleven Black quarterbacks started Week 1. Now compare that to the three Black coaches who had jobs when the season began — Mike McDaniel doesn’t count, as he chooses to identify as a human being with a Black dad.

When Lovie Smith got fired in Houston, three became two. And as we wait for the remaining hires to be made, there isn’t a track record or feeling that anything will be done in the next few weeks to greatly improve these dismal numbers. We’re at a point in which the league, the owners, and fans are fine with having a Black man be their quarterback — but not their coach.

Over the years, the trajectory for Black quarterbacks has steadily risen in a way that hasn’t happened for Black coaches. By the time we reach kickoff, it will mean that eight Black quarterbacks have started in the Super Bowl. It’s a direct result of evolution over the years. What was started by Fritz Pollard, Briscoe, and Williams led the way for Michael Vick to be the first Black quarterback drafted No. 1 and for Steve McNair to be the first Black quarterback to win MVP — which was followed by Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.

Progress on the field, not on the sidelines

This type of progress isn’t something we’ve seen with Black coaches, though. At roughly this point last year, there were only two Black head coaches in the league — Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh and David Culley in Houston. As we know, Culley would get fired after one season by the Texans and would get replaced by Smith, another Black coach that would be fired after a lone year on the job. Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit (which was joined by Ray Horton and Steve Wilks) is still hovering over the league. But, you wouldn’t know it the way that Wilks wasn’t able to keep his interim tag — which is a death sentence for Black coaches — with the Carolina Panthers despite doing a wonderful job.

In 2000, Dennis Green (Minnesota) and Dungy (Tampa) were the only two Black full-time head coaches in the NFL. Twenty-three years later, we’re in the same place, but worse. The XFL is just weeks away from rebooting and their eight-team league already has four Black head coaches. It’s a jarring stat that embodies just how big this problem is, despite what Todd Bowles thinks.

“I think the minute you guys stop making a big deal about it, everybody else will as well,” one of the two Black coaches in the league had the audacity to say earlier in the season.

In less than two weeks, a league that’s majority Black will make history when two Black quarterbacks play in a game that will feature entertainment before the game and during halftime from Black performers in a month that’s dedicated to recognizing the contributions to what Black people have made to this country. It will be a joyous occasion.

However, while you’re enjoying the game, I beg of you to ask one question to the company you’ll keep on that day. “If the NFL, America and the world can accept all this Blackness, then why won’t they accept Black coaches?” And while you’re waiting for people to answer that question, realize that “End Racism” was etched on the field all season. 





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