Novak Djokovic aims to cut ‘gentle giant’ Juan Martin Del Potro down to size in US Open final

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts after his win against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Men's semifinals at the US Open. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018

Novak Djokovic aims to cut ‘gentle giant’ Juan Martin Del Potro down to size in US Open final

NEW YORK: Novak Djokovic hailed Juan Martin del Potro as a “gentle giant” but said he will have no hesitation in attempting to cut his close friend down to size in Sunday’s US Open final.
Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion, will be looking to complete the Wimbledon-US Open double for a third time when he tackles the 2009 winner in New York with a 14th major and a place among the game’s greats within touching distance.
And he will start the heavy favorite, boasting a 14-4 record over the Argentine who will be playing in just his second Grand Slam final.
But whatever the outcome on Sunday, Djokovic insists their personal bond will remain strong.
“He’s a gentle giant,” the 31-year-old Serb said of the 6’6” Del Potro affectionately dubbed the “Tower of Tandil,” after his home town.
“He really is. He’s very tall, has a big game, but at the same time he nurtures the right values in life. He cares about his family. He cares about his friends. He respects everyone.
“He fights every match from the first to the last point. I think people can relate to that and appreciate what he brings to the tennis. He treats others the way he wants others to treat him. I think that’s why people love him.”
While Djokovic can pull level with Pete Sampras on 14 majors — and move to within three of Rafael Nadal and six back from Roger Federer — Del Potro’s career at the Slams has been torpedoed by a series of wrist injuries.
A number of surgeries pushed him to the brink of retirement in 2015 when his world ranking slumped to 581 in the world. Now he goes into Sunday’s final at a career-high three.
Djokovic has never lost to Del Potro at a Grand Slam, winning twice at the US Open in 2007 and 2012, Roland Garros in 2011 and an epic five-set semifinal at Wimbledon in 2013.
But Djokovic will not under-estimate the 29-year-old who was two sets to love ahead of Nadal in the semifinals on Friday when the world number one retired with a knee injury.
“We have never played in the final of a Grand Slam and he’s playing the tennis of his life, without a doubt, in the last 15 months,” said the Serb.
Meanwhile, Nadal — whose injury meant Del Potro made it to the final — has vowed to come back from his Flushing Meadows heartbreak.
“I know what I have,” he said after limping off Arthur Ashe Stadium having lost two sets to third-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. “I know what is going on with the knee. I know how I have to work to be better as soon as possible.”
“All my career everybody said that because of my style, I will have a short career,” he noted. “I’m still here.
“I’m still here because I love what I am doing. I still have the passion for the game.
“I’m going to keep fighting and working hard to keep enjoying this tour and keep having chances to compete at the highest level. So that’s all.”


Manchester United end Liverpool’s winning run in 1-1 draw

Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira, left, and Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum during their match in Manchester on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Manchester United end Liverpool’s winning run in 1-1 draw

  • Adam Lallana’s late equalizer saves the European champions from a shock defeat

Liverpool failed to record a record-equalling 18th straight Premier League win, but Adam Lallana’s late equalizer saved the European champions from a shock defeat at Manchester United in a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Marcus Rashford’s controversial goal handed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s struggling Red Devils a 1-0 half-time lead, but they could not hold out for a much-needed victory as they left substitute Lallana unmarked at the back post to level with five minutes to play.
Liverpool move 6 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, but will still feel this was a missed opportunity to inflict more pain on a United side sitting 13th in the Premier League, just two points off the relegation zone.
The two most successful sides in English football could not have come into the game in more contrasting form.
However, United answered Solskjaer’s calls to rise to the occasion.
Liverpool were without Mohamed Salah through injury and the Egyptian’s pace and trickery was badly missed.
The visitors were able to welcome back goalkeeper Alisson Becker for the first time in two months after a calf injury, but the Brazilian was rarely tested as United were happy to sit back and counter-attack.
Solskjaer changed his formation to a 3-5-2 in an attempt to limit Liverpool’s flying full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson and it was largely effective as the hosts restricted the league leaders to precious few chances.
Liverpool’s best opening before the break came when Sadio Mane finally found some space to counter-attack, but from his cut-back Roberto Firmino fired too close to David de Gea.
United had not scored in their two previous matches prior to the international break, but finally produced a moment of quality going forward to take the lead, even if fortune was also on their side for the goal to stand.
Victor Lindelof looked to have upended Divock Origi on halfway, but no foul was given by Martin Atkinson and as United broke forward, Daniel James’s cross perfectly picked out Rashford to prod past Alisson.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was furious on the touchline even before a VAR review failed to overturn the decision.
The visitors’ frustration only grew moments later when Mane outmuscled Lindelof to turn in what he thought was an equalizer, only for VAR to this time rule the goal out for a handball by the Senegalese.
Klopp sprinted down the touchline at the half-time whistle, but was unable to change the pattern of the game after the interval as Liverpool continued to dominate possession without creating many chances.