D’Arcy Maine, ESPN.com
Apr 18, 2023, 09:52 AM ET
Novak Djokovic made his return to tennis final week in Monte Carlo, after greater than a monthlong absence. Unable to enter the United States because of his unvaccinated status, the 22-time main champ did not take part in both of the Sunshine Double occasions in Indian Wells and Miami.
In Monte Carlo, Djokovic’s first occasion of the clay season, he received his first match — then fell within the spherical of 16 to Lorenzo Musetti, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. However he was pragmatic in regards to the state of his recreation on clay even forward of the loss.
“Perhaps for another guys it is extra pure, I suppose it is simpler for them to regulate to this floor, to the motion, to the ballstriking, in a method discovering the best tempo on the photographs,” Djokovic stated throughout a information convention in Monte Carlo. “Match play is what I would like. Follow factors is one thing that helps, however nothing helps as [much as] taking part in an official match.”
Djokovic will subsequent play on this week’s Srpska Open in Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina. He’s slated to face Luca Van Assche — who earned the primary prime 100 victory of his profession on Monday, over Stan Wawrinka — on Wednesday.
And Djokovic is simply one of many many compelling figures within the sport proper now. It was an eventful week, on and off the courtroom. This is what you missed and what to know going ahead.
The drama of Monte Carlo
With Djokovic’s return, and Andrey Rublev taking the title in three hard-fought sets over Holger Rune, it was a memorable week in Monte Carlo. However that is not what everybody continues to be speaking about. As a substitute, it is the off-the-court squabble between Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev that’s virtually giving “Vanderpump Guidelines” a run for its cash. (Please do not @ me, I stated virtually.)
Throughout a spirited Spherical of 16 match, which noticed Medvedev save two match factors to win in a third-set tiebreak, Zverev was none-too-pleased to what he perceived to be tactical antics all through from his opponent. Medvedev eliminated a web pole through the second set, took an unsanctioned toilet break within the decider and shushed the group at one level.
By no means change, Daniil 😂@DaniilMedwed #RolexMonteCarloMasters pic.twitter.com/RhNaigN0Gn
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 13, 2023
Throughout a postmatch interview, Zverev referred to as Medvedev “one of the crucial unfair gamers on the earth” and stated he was “extraordinarily upset” in his habits.
And that, my buddies, is just the start.
After Medvedev misplaced to Rune within the quarterfinals the next day, he mocked Zverev’s handshake from the previous match after which jokingly informed Rune, “You play unfair.” Then, throughout his postmatch information convention, Medvedev did not maintain again in his emotions about Zverev and his feedback.
“Sascha [Zverev] resides in his personal world,” Medvedev stated. “I already had like 5 gamers within the locker room coming to me and saying, ‘Come on, Daniil, why are you so unfair?’ Sascha, when he loses, we are able to discover possibly 25 interviews of him the place he does say some unusual issues.”
Medvedev went on to say the pair was “by no means actually shut buddies, [except] possibly solely in juniors” and thought the confusion about them being such got here from Zverev’s congratulatory postmatch speeches through which he implied they have been shut.
So, sure, simply to make clear right here, Medvedev went out of his option to inform the world he is not buddies with Zverev and by no means has been. THE DRAMA. I do not learn about anybody else, however I’ll want a full season of “Break Level” devoted to this or no less than an Andy Cohen-moderated reunion on the finish of the season.
Rafael Nadal, 36, hasn’t performed since injuring his hip through the Australian Open in January, and he won’t be playing this week’s Barcelona Open, both. A 12-time champion on the occasion in his residence nation, Nadal referred to as the event “particular” in a post on social media however said he nonetheless wasn’t able to compete. So now the query is: Will he be prepared in time to play the French Open when it will get underway on the finish of subsequent month?
He has not but shared if he intends to play on the upcoming Madrid or Rome occasions, each 1000-level tournaments, and one has to think about he is concentrating on a kind of occasions to make his return, if he is in a position.
Nadal is, in fact, the “King of Clay” and a 14-time winner at Roland Garros, in addition to the defending champion. There isn’t any tennis participant extra related to a singular occasion than Nadal and the French Open. And together with his profession seemingly winding down, it is unclear simply what number of extra alternatives he should play at his favourite occasion. So it is protected to imagine he is doing every thing he can to play it this yr. If anybody can do it, it is him. Heck, he did it final yr after struggling a rib damage through the Indian Wells remaining in March, then returning in time for Madrid … after which successful the trophy in Paris. Keep tuned.
Whereas there have been no WTA tournaments scheduled final week, most of the prime gamers have been nonetheless in motion throughout Billie Jean King Cup qualifying. The U.S. group appeared dominant in its 4-0 victory over Austria in Delray Seaside, Florida. Jessica Pegula received each of her singles matches and Coco Gauff recorded a win in singles and doubles (reuniting together with her #McCoco different half Caty McNally) in entrance of Gauff’s hometown crowd. The People will now be searching for their nineteenth(!) title through the remaining in November.
— USTA (@usta) April 15, 2023
Pegula tried to rejoice the victory by treating herself to a tacky quesadilla from the airport Qdoba, however there was one downside. The restaurant ran out of cheese. Properly, form of. Her Twitter thread of what occurred subsequent is a wild journey that basically must be learn, and appreciated, in full.
My first thread…I am at Qdoba within the airport & I actually wished a quesadilla. I stand up in line & he says we ran out of cheese. I look over and I am like what about that cheese? He stated that is just for the bowls. I am like however it’s the identical? I do not care if you need to use that cheese…
— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) April 16, 2023
He says no that is our final bin of cheese for the bowls. I informed him however it’s the identical, somebody goes to make use of the cheese? He simply stored saying however it’s our final quantity of cheese for bowls so we will not use it. I ended up getting a bowl with cheese and left confused. Is it simply me??
— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) April 16, 2023
The one pleasure I received out of this example was that I felt like I used to be in a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode which is my dream anyhow and possibly in the future will likely be an episode. Ideas?😂
— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) April 16, 2023
Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Slovenia and Spain have been additionally victorious over the weekend and superior, however there was no phrase on if any gamers from these groups had related fast-casual-restaurant struggles.
Do not name it a comeback
4-time main champion Naomi Osaka shocked the world together with her being pregnant announcement forward of the Australian Open, and the information led to some speculation about whether or not we’d ever see the previous No. 1 on the tennis courtroom once more.
However Osaka, 25, swiftly refuted that notion in a recent interview with former Japanese tennis star Shuzo Matsuoka. Reiterating her plan to return in Melbourne in January, Osaka went on to say her final aim is to win eight extra Grand Slam titles in her profession, in addition to the gold medal on the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She credited her unborn baby, whom she stated was due in June or July, for the surge in motivation.
“I came upon after which I used to be like, ‘I am undoubtedly going to play higher and be a greater participant after this,’” Osaka stated. “For me, It simply made me need to attempt tougher and be the most effective that I could be.”
Whereas successful on tour is tough regardless of the circumstances, and getting back from childbirth will undoubtedly be a problem, it is refreshing to see Osaka so genuinely excited in regards to the sport once more after a tough few years. And for sure, the game will likely be simply as pleased to have her again as nicely.
Iga the influencer
It has been a monumental 12 months for Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old received two majors throughout that stretch, in addition to a handful of different titles, and took over the world No. 1 rating. And final week she added one more accomplishment to her already stacked résumé: She was named to Time’s 100 Most Influential Individuals of 2023.
Swiatek was honored with an essay written by snowboarding famous person and fellow honoree Mikaela Shiffrin, who praised her actions on and off the courtroom.
“All through her rise to the highest of tennis — and the highest of sport — Iga has proven vulnerability and braveness,” Shiffrin wrote. “She strives relentlessly to enhance her recreation. She provides credit score to those that have supported her, with out discounting her personal abilities and work. She has advocated for psychological well being and supported Ukrainians of their battle to guard their residence. As an athlete, and extra importantly as a human, she embodies the type of confidence that everybody ought to emulate-the confidence of motion over mere discuss.”
💯I’ve by no means thought that one thing like this may occur to me. Thanks @TIME for this unimaginable honor and recognition. And thanks @MikaelaShiffrin in your phrases. It means rather a lot.🙏🏼https://t.co/2gXozOd5mb
— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) April 13, 2023
Swiatek was the one tennis participant to make the checklist, however Roger Federer did write the submit honoring World Cup champion Lionel Messi.
It is no secret that the lifetime of an expert participant is a grind. Even the highest gamers lose extra tournaments than they win, and for many, the day-to-day is stuffed with monetary uncertainty, journey woes and bodily and psychological pressure. So, it is enjoyable to see a tennis participant take a second to rejoice their accomplishments. That is precisely what world No. 162 Ivan Gakhov did final week after shedding — sure, shedding — to Djokovic within the Spherical of 32 final week in Monte Carlo.
The 26-year-old fell in straight units, however he nonetheless acknowledged it had been a monumental few weeks for him, through which he reached a brand new career-high rating, claimed his first Challenger title and received the primary ATP fundamental draw match of his profession. In a video posted by his girlfriend to her Instagram story, Gakhov was seen residing his very best life hours after the loss with a champagne-and-pizza dinner within the bathtub, full with bubbles in his hair and a few form of rubber duck.
There is a lesson in right here for all of us.
Ivan Gakhov final night time after the Djokovic match 😅
His month of April to this point:
– Maiden Challenger title in Girona
– Qualifies in Monte-Carlo
– Wins first ATP fundamental draw match
– Pushes Djokovic to a tiebreak
– Up from #240 to #160
🎥 popovaaa (his GF) pic.twitter.com/QkSW7ZAWSq
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) April 12, 2023
Monica Puig, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, retired from tennis final yr, however that hasn’t slowed her aggressive spirit. On Monday, ran within the Boston Marathon. Carrying an ever-so-perfect “2016” bib, Puig completed in an admirable time of three hours and 49 minutes — greater than carrying out her aim of a sub-four-hour mark.
“I wished to show to myself that I might excel at one thing that wasn’t simply tennis,” Puig told ESPN.com’s Aishwarya Kumar forward of the race. “Now I am proving to myself that I can accomplish one thing huge once more, after [leaving the sport] I used to be born and destined to do.”
What’s much more spectacular? She now heads throughout the pond to run in Sunday’s London Marathon as a part of her quest to finish all six of the world’s main marathons by the tip of 2024.
This week’s occasions
Barcelona Open, Barcelona, Spain (500)
BMW Open, Munich, Germany (250)
Srpska Open, Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina (250)
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany (500)