Thursday, 21 September, 2017

Djokovic Into Second Round as Klizan Retires Injured

A view of the plaque hanging outside court 18 stating 'The Longest Match' in honor of the match played by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut Ed White: Young and old pose a threat to Britain's golden era
Damon Campbell | 06 July, 2017, 00:50

It would be his 85th. With that, the Swiss ace catapulted himself further into legend with a record 18 Major title, and not even on his most successful surface.

Not that his first match this year was, on paper, a straightforward one.

"Unless you're (in the) top 10.it's significant money", said Dolgopolov, who is ranked 84th. It begins with his quick, abbreviated service motion, transfers to his bouncing ground strokes, finds expression in exaggerated slice and in tactics that embrace drop-shots and lobs easily.

Nadal leads 23-14 in the head-to-head with his rival, but Federer has won the last four meetings between the pair, including three this year at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami Open.

When the Ukrainian, who called on the trainer after the first set, did not even move from the baseline to retrieve an admittedly wondrous backhand flick in the third game of the second, it seemed he might be taking the Klizan route.

There was no discernible evidence Alexandr Dolgopolov brought his complaint to the court ready-wrapped, and he did give Federer at least a few moments of anxiety before twice refusing to chase down gettable returns in the second set then surrendering in the 43rd minute, much to the bemusement of the Centre Court patrons. And only the biggest servers in the sport, the big Goran Ivanisevic and the even taller Ivo Karlovic, have hit more since records began in 1991.

But Federer does not want to see the Slams opt for the best-of-three sets format rather than the traditional best-of-five.

At the French Open last month, only one first-round men's match ended with a retirement, but five more piled up by fortnight's end.

There are, of course, a lot of "ifs" in that package, and in truth, his 85th win here was over too quickly to judge just how likely he is to achieve his goal. Klizan has been troubled recently by a left calf problem. After medical consultation, he decided he could not continue. We had a little joke about it in the locker room, saying we should maybe play a practice set on the Centre Court, have the crowd stay. With due respect to Dolgopolov and Klizan, most of the spectators had come to see Federer and Djokovic.

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Denis Istomin and Viktor Troicki followed suit before Klizan, Dolgopolov, Janko Tipsarevic and Queen's Club champion Feliciano Lopez also quit.

But the others retirements were similar to those faced by Federer and Djokovic. "A lot of ex-players are cringing, Aussies, especially the guys who started this pro circuit".

However, they will be monitoring an ATP pilot scheme which offers a lucky loser the spot instead of the injured player.

'I'm sure that has something to do with it, ' Federer added. "I'm completely speechless. It's just yeah, I mean, I'm just.".

When two of tennis' biggest stars crossed paths after both advanced when opponents stopped playing because of pre-existing injuries, they kidded each other about a way to try to make it up to the fans.

Both Federer and Djokovic, both politically astute and articulate, were in favour of extending the same rules across the board. Federer broke Dolgopolov's serve in the opening game. They put in another match on Centre Court. That only the player can answer. "Otherwise, I feel they should give up the spot". Federer, in contrast, has won 4 titles this year, 92 career titles and a total of $104,445,185 in career prize money.

Dolgopolov has no doubt players do step on court knowing they will not complete a match - although he insisted that was not the case for him.

"It doesn't happen often really".

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