Djokovic sets sights on career Grand Slam

Updated 29 January 2013
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Djokovic sets sights on career Grand Slam

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic set his sights on completing the elusive career Grand Slam at this year’s French Open after confirming his mastery of men’s tennis at the Australian Open.
With six Grand Slam titles at the age of 25, the Serbian world No. 1 could be forgiven for taking it easy but immediately after clinching his fourth Melbourne win, his mind was on Roland Garros in May.
Djokovic has gone from the Paris quarterfinals to the semifinals and the title match in successive seasons, falling to seven-time winner Rafael Nadal last year, and now he wants to take the last step.
“I want to go all the way in the French Open. I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa, but he’s always the favorite on that surface and he’s the ultimate player to beat on clay,” Djokovic said.
“But I think if I continue on playing well, stay healthy, I can have a chance.”
It all seemed routine for Djokovic as he beat Andy Murray in four sets, picked up the trophy and $2.5 million winner’s cheque, and then headed straight to the airport, eschewing parties and the usual day-after media commitments.
Djokovic was anxious to hurry home in good time for this week’s Davis Cup tie with Belgium. The surface? Clay.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun next weekend to see how I can adjust to a clay court in indoor conditions, playing away Davis Cup, which is always tricky,” he said.
“But, look, right now my thoughts are on this trophy, enjoying it as much as I can. Hopefully I’m going to have time to recover and get ready for that tie.”
Australian Open victories in 2011 and 2012 proved a springboard for Djokovic, who put together 145 wins against just 18 losses over the two seasons and finished both years as the world number one.
With Nadal’s physical state unknown, following his long break with knee problems, victory in Paris does not look a long shot for Djokovic, who would surely then target the hallowed calendar-year Grand Slam.
Djokovic received the trophy from Andre Agassi, another four-time Australian winner who managed to lift all four Grand Slam titles during his career.
Last week, Agassi said Djokovic had lifted the sport to new heights. But asked whether he was now taking tennis into a new era, the Serb parried.
“I leave you guys to judge about changing the game or not. I’m just trying to play this game with 100 percent of devotion, love, passion, and fun also,” he said.
“I mean, 25 years old and I’ve won six Grand Slams and have a lot of trophies. It’s amazing. You know, I’m just trying to embrace this moment and enjoy it as much as I can and see where tomorrow brings me.”


Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

The gunners could not defeat 10-man Atletico Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 27 April 2018
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Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

  • The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes
  • Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week

LONDON: Arsenal’s hopes of sending outgoing manager Arsene Wenger off with a trophy suffered a major blow as they could only draw 1-1 with 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday.
The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, with Sime Vrsaljko’s early red card handing them the initiative.
However, they were made to rue a host of missed chances before and after Alexandre Lacazette headed them in front on the hour mark.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was also sent to the stands shortly after Vrsaljko’s dismissal, but the Spaniards resisted manfully and pounced when their chance came as Antoine Griezmann prodded home a vital away goal eight minutes from time.
Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week if Wenger’s last game in charge is to be the final in his homeland in Lyon on May 16.
Moreover, Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League football next season also hang on becoming the first side other than Real Madrid to eliminate Atletico from Europe for five seasons.
There was a far more highly-charged atmosphere for Wenger’s penultimate home game in charge than there had been for last weekend’s game against West Ham United.
And the hosts were given plenty of encouragement early on, even when still up against Atletico’s full complement.
Lacazette volleyed off the outside of the post and forced Jan Oblak into the first of a series of fine saves with a header from close range.
Vrsaljko had been booked within two minutes for bringing down Jack Wilshere.

And the Croatian left his side a man light after just 10 minutes when French referee Clement Turpin showed no leniency for another late challenge on Lacazette.
Moments later, Simeone was also dismissed by the officious referee for taking his protests too far when an Arsenal player wasn’t booked for what he thought was a similar foul.
Atletico’s excellent defensive record is what has carried them to five European semifinals in seven seasons under Simeone.
The visitors battened down the hatches with 10 men, but were reliant on Oblak to keep them in the tie.
Wilshere headed straight at Oblak when unmarked at the back post at the end of a flowing Arsenal move.
And the Slovenian then spread himself well with an outstretched leg to deny Danny Welbeck.
Having weathered the Gunners’ early storm, Atletico only began to threaten themselves late in the first half and David Ospina had to be alert to parry a fiercely struck Griezmann shot following a fine run from Thomas Partey.
Atletico retreated ever deeper toward their own goal after the break and were finally punished on the hour mark when Wilshere’s deep cross found Lacazette rising above Lucas Hernandez to head in his seventh goal in seven games.
However, the French international and Arsenal could have had more.
Laczette’s dangerous ball across goal found no takers before he headed another good opportunity wide.
And Arsenal paid heavily for their profligacy, and some comical defending, when Atletico grabbed a vital away goal on 82 minutes.
Griezmann outmuscled French international team-mate Laurent Koscielny and then benefited from a slip by Shkodran Mustafi after his initial effort had been saved by Ospina to prod his 27th goal of the season into the roof of the net.
There was still time for Oblak to show why Griezmann isn’t the only Atletico player wanted by Europe’s elite with a spectacular one-handed save to turn Aaron Ramsey’s header behind and keep Los Rojiblancos on course for another European final.