Djokovic sweeps aside Schwartzman at ATP Finals

Djokovic sweeps aside Schwartzman at ATP Finals
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in their men’s singles round-robin match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament. (AFP)
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Updated 17 November 2020

Djokovic sweeps aside Schwartzman at ATP Finals

Djokovic sweeps aside Schwartzman at ATP Finals
  • The Serbian, 33, has enjoyed another sparkling season despite the coronavirus interruption, winning four titles including the Australian Open

LONDON: Novak Djokovic produced a masterclass against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman on Monday as he embarked on his campaign for a record-equaling sixth title at the ATP Finals in London.

The world No. 1 wobbled at the start of the match against the diminutive eighth seed, making his debut at the elite eight-man event but recovered to win 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic, who has already sealed the yearend No. 1  spot for a record-equaling sixth time, is aiming to match the absent Roger Federer, who holds the record of six ATP Finals wins.

The Serbian, 33, has enjoyed another sparkling season despite the coronavirus interruption, winning four titles including the Australian Open.

He came into the match at an empty O2 Arena with a 5-0 record against Schwartzman but the Argentine debutant started impressively, breaking Djokovic in the third game.

The 28-year-old double-faulted in the following game to hand Djokovic two break points and the Serbian seized his chance to restore parity.

Djokovic upped his level of consistency and ground down his opponent, who stands just 5 feet 7 inches (170 centimetres) tall, breaking again in the eighth game and converting his first set point with a powerful serve down the T.

He secured another break in the first game of the second set to take an iron grip on the match.

Djokovic repeated the feat in the fifth game when Schwartzman went wide with a forehand and although the Argentine added a bit of respectability to the scoreline with a hold, it merely delayed the inevitable.

"The beginning of the match wasn't that great for me," said the top seed. "He broke my serve in the third game but I managed to re-break. It was a close encounter until I broke his serve at 4-3. I managed to close out the first set.

"Obviously in the second set I started swinging through the ball a bit more, bit less hesitation from both corners and I was very pleased with the way I played in the second set especially."

The five-time champion said he was missing the fans, who usually pack the O2 Arena.

"I've been playing the ATP Finals in this arena for many years and I've been blessed to experience some incredible matches and atmospheres and it feels very strange to play in front of empty stands," he added.


Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
Updated 19 January 2021

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
  • The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, has not played since March 2020

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has hailed the “genius” of Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal outcast confirmed he was leaving the Premier League club to join Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

The former Arsenal boss signed the German playmaker in 2013 but the relationship has turned sour under current manager Mikel Arteta.

The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, on a reported weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000), has not played since March 2020. But Wenger said the former Germany international, who won the World Cup in 2014, was a rare talent.

“Mesut is like if you imagine an orchestra in music,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports Turkey.

“He’s a guy who plays the ball at the right time. The timing of his pass is exceptional, but the creativity of his pass is as well.

“In every situation he confronts, he gives the right answer and that is genius.”

Ozil has claimed he is in good physical condition despite his lengthy period on the sidelines but Wenger said his former player would take a few games to build up his “competitive fitness.”

“If his basic fitness in training is good, it will only take him three or four games to be at his best,” said Wenger.

“The quality that he has is... vision in depth. He sees quickly, he decides quickly and he realizes quickly what he sees. That is a quality you don’t find too often in our game.”

Wenger said Ozil would strengthen Fenerbahce’s bid to win the Turkish league for the first time since 2013/14.

“I’m sure that he’s frustrated at not having played,” he said. “His hunger must be absolutely (enormous) to play football again.

“Mesut is a guy who needs a warm environment and I believe he will find that more than anywhere else in Turkey.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.

Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the Turkish Super Lig behind Besiktas.