Novak Djokovic hits out at Australian Open organizers over heat safety

Novak Djokovic hit out at tournament organizers after temperatures reached 40 Celsius. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Novak Djokovic hits out at Australian Open organizers over heat safety

LONDON: Novak Djokovic hit out at tournament organizers after he won his survival of the fittest battle with Gael Monfils to reach the third round.
The former world No. 1 saw off the Frenchman’s challenge 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win in 2 hours 45 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena. But while he was very happy with the win, he was angry at being made to play in temperatures that hovered around 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), prompting Djokovic to say a safety limit had been reached for the players.
“People might say at this level you have to be as a professional tennis player fit,” Djokovic said.
“It’s the beginning of the season. You work and train hard to be able to sustain these kind of conditions, to be tough.
“But I think there is a limit, and that is a level of tolerance between being fit and being, I think, in danger in terms of health. It was right at the limit.”
The extreme elements made it a desperate struggle just to finish the match with Monfils looking the worse for wear early before Djokovic had enough in the tank to win on his fourth match point in a gruelling eight-minute final game.
“It was brutal conditions and we both suffered, it was a big challenge for both of us,” Djokovic said.
“Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport but he was not at his best in the second and third sets. It was about just hanging in there and try to use every opportunity.”
He pleaded with tournament officials to step in next time the heat gets too much.
“There are certain days where you just have to, as a tournament supervisor, recognize that you might need to give players few extra hours until (the temperature) comes down,” he said.
“I understand there is a factor of tickets. If you don’t play matches, people will be unhappy.”
There were no retirements due to the heat on Day 4, however, and some players were even unfazed by the conditions.
One of those was Roger Federer.
The defending champion had the benefit of an evening start, when the temperatures had cooled. And he made the most of the better conditions brushing past Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
Federer, 36, broke serve once in each of the first two sets but had to recover from a break down in the third before sealing victory in the tie-break.
Asked if he had requested an evening match, Federer said: “It’s not my call, it’s [the tournament officials’] call.
“I wouldn’t have minded playing during the day because if you want to get to the top, you’ve got to thrive in all conditions.”
On the victory against Struff, the Swiss sensation added: “I knew about him going in. I’ve practiced with him, played singles and doubles against him too so you have the information you need.”


Morata misses out on Spain World Cup squad

Updated 21 May 2018
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Morata misses out on Spain World Cup squad

MADRID: Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata was left out of Spain’s World Cup squad, announced on Monday.
Morata paid the price for a disappointing debut season in the Premier League as Spain coach Julen Lopetegui picked Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno up front, along with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa.
“The decision is always difficult because of the talent of the players we have,” Lopetegui said.
“We have opted for three other players who had different assets and including four players up front was not something we wanted to do.”
Two more Chelsea players also missed out as Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas were not included in the 23-man group.
Morata’s absence was the stand-out decision, however, even if it was not an entirely surprising one given the 25-year-old’s dramatic dip in form.
After scoring seven goals in his first seven games for Chelsea, a back injury seemed to affect his confidence. Morata has scored only three times in 22 games since the turn of the year.
“I’ve talked to the players I had to talk to,” Lopetegui said. “I’m not going to name anybody, but there are players who had to find out from me that they were not going to be on the list.”
In contrast, Aspas and Moreno have been in excellent form for Celta Vigo and Valencia respectively, with Aspas the top Spanish scorer in La Liga on 22 goals.
Costa is expected to start when Spain open up against Portugal in Group B on June 15 but Aspas, with his speed and direct running, remains an attractive option.
Alonso only made his debut in a friendly against Argentina in March and lost out to Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal. Fabregas fell behind Spain’s impressive wealth of options in midfield, which will include Sergio Busquets, Saul Niguez, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez.
Manchester United’s David de Gea was included as expected, along with fellow goalkeepers Pepe Reina and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta did make it in, as did Monreal. Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nacho and Jordi Alba complete Spain’s group of defenders.
“I’ve had several doubts, making a list of 23 is very difficult,” Lopetegui said. “But we have decided this was the most balanced decision and the one we think will help us most at the World Cup.”