Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to win his 3rd Madrid Open title

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy as he celebrates winning the final of the Madrid Open tennis tournament in two sets, 6-3, 6-4, against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipa in Madrid, Spain, on May 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas pose with their trophies after Novak Djokovic wins the final in Madrid Open on May 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Sergio Perez)
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Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas during their ATP Madrid Open final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 12, 2019. ( AFP / OSCAR DEL POZO)
Updated 13 May 2019
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Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to win his 3rd Madrid Open title

  • Djokovic joins Rafael Nadal as the most successful players in Masters 1000 tournaments
  • He now has three Madrid Open trophies, adding to the ones he won in 2011 and 2016

MADRID: Novak Djokovic celebrated a lot more than a record-tying 33rd Masters 1000 title at the Madrid Open.
Djokovic left the Spanish capital feeling pretty good about his game, too, carrying a lot of confidence into the rest of the clay-court season.
The top-ranked Djokovic earned a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday to join Nadal as the most successful players in Masters 1000 tournaments, moving five ahead of Roger Federer, who is third in the all-time list.
It was Djokovic’s second title of the season, adding to his triumph in the Australian Open.
“I feel like this tournament win was very important for my level of confidence because after the Australian Open I wasn’t playing my best, I wasn’t finding the right game and the consistency on the court in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo,” Djokovic said. “(It’s a) very important time for me in the season, because this gives me a lot of confidence prior to Rome and, of course, Roland Garros, where I definitely want to play my best.”
Djokovic will be seeking his second French Open title in June. He now has three Madrid Open trophies, adding to the ones he won in 2011 and 2016.
“These are the best tournaments, biggest tournaments we have in our sport, in the ATP, of course alongside the Grand Slams,” Djokovic said. “This is as important and as good as it gets.”

Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds his trophy as he poses with children after winning the ATP Madrid Open final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 12, 2019. (AFP / OSCAR DEL POZO)


Djokovic was in control from the start against his 20-year-old Greek opponent, who had defeated Nadal in the Madrid semifinals and was trying to become the first player to win three tour titles this season.
The Serb broke Tsitsipas early in the first set and late in the second to comfortably close out the match at the Magic Box center court, securing his 14th clay title — and 74th overall — without dropping a set.
The eighth-seeded Tsitsipas, the tour’s winningest player in 2019 with 27 victories, lacked the intensity and aggressiveness that he showed against second-ranked Nadal and was overpowered by Djokovic. He had beaten Djokovic in Toronto last year in the first meeting between the two players.
“He deserved the victory, he played unbelievable. I couldn’t do much,” Tsitsipas said. “Physically I was not there. My legs were not coping with my mind. Completely I could feel the fatigue and this soreness, not just in my legs, but everywhere in my body. I had a tough match last night, so he took advantage of that. I just didn’t have solutions.”
Djokovic didn’t concede a break point on Sunday, earning a crucial one for himself at 4-4 in the second set by returning Tsitsipas’ overhead shot with a backhand winner down the line. He then served out to win the match.
The 31-year-old Djokovic, who now has 200 wins against top 10 opponents, had struggled after winning the Australian Open, with his best result since then having been a quarterfinal appearance in Monte Carlo at the start of the clay-court season.
He was coming off another confidence-boosting win over an in-form Dominic Thiem to make it to the final in Madrid.
Tsitsipas, who will reach a career-high No. 7 ranking this week, won titles in Estoril and Marseille, and reached the final in Dubai, where he lost to Federer. He was beaten by Nadal in the Australian Open semifinals for his best-ever showing in a Grand Slam. The Toronto final, when he lost to Nadal, was his first in a Masters 1000 event.
In the doubles final, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated Thiem and Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-3 for their second Madrid Open title, adding to their 2016 victory.
Kiki Bertens won the women’s title on Saturday.
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Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

Updated 23 May 2019
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Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

  • ‘I have an obligation to speak against atrocities,’ basketball star tells Arab News
  • ‘Whatever I am going through in my personal life doesn’t impact my performance on court’

CHICAGO: NBA superstar Enes Kanter says he loves his homeland Turkey as much as he loves professional basketball. 

Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Erdogan has arrested Kanter’s father, and bullied his family after accusing the basketball player of being part of the Hizmet movement of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the president asserts was behind a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Two years ago this week, Erdogan demanded that Kanter be arrested, and fears of violence from the Turkish state have gotten so bad that the FBI installed a panic button to help protect the player.

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression.

“His (Erdogan’s) regime’s and his hostility to me began in 2013 when I first start criticizing (the) government on unjust, unfair and illegal closures of college preparatory centers linked to businesspeople in the Hizmet movement,” Kanter said.

 “This closure pretty much became the first public clash between the Erdogan regime and the Hizmet movement,” he added.

“It was obvious that there was something that Erdogan doesn’t like about the Hizmet movement. Up until the closures of college preparatory centers, no one knew about that,” Kanter said.

“The way Erdogan handled this relationship was brutal, ruthless, unjust and unfair. I can’t stand for any of these, so I stood up against this tyranny and started criticizing. Neither Erdogan stopped his approach nor I, and we’ve kept clashing since then.”

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression. (AFP)

Kanter played for the Turkish national team at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, and for the Turkish U18 national team in 2009.

He led Turkey to the bronze medal at the European Championships in France, and was named Best Player and Best Center at the 2009 European Championships by Eurobasket.com. 

Kanter signed with the Utah Jazz in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, the New York Knicks in 2017, and the Portland Trail Blazers in February this year.

The Trail Blazers lost the Western Division Playoffs, the first step to the NBA Championships, to California’s Golden State Warriors in the final game on Monday.

Erdogan’s threats have placed enormous pressure on Kanter, but he insists it has not impacted his performance or his commitment to help the people of Turkey.

“I’m a successful professional athlete, and whatever I’m going through in my private life would never impact my performance on court,” he said.

“They’re two different worlds for me … I’ve known nothing else but basketball … since I was 13, so I guess it’s pretty important,” he added.

“I see basketball and my platform as a way to teach the younger generation how to be successful and hopeful for the future,” Kanter said.

“Once you’re a successful professional athlete, younger generations see you as a role model, so … I’m trying to do my best to set my life as a role model to them,” he added.

“I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities. I believe that as a human being I should be standing for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech … Me being a celebrity makes it easier for people to hear, see and experience what I believe.”

I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers center

On Erdogan, Kanter does not mince words. “He’s a dictator by definition. He silences media, destroys opposition, demonizes his critics … so all these make him a dictator,” Kanter said.

“Turkey deserves a leader who’s open minded, democratic, progressive, intelligent, modest and forward thinking, a leader who embraces everybody in the community regardless of their political choices.”

The harassment from Erdogan has put Kanter’s family at risk too. “I can’t say they’re safe when my dad lost his job and got jailed based on terrorism charges because I’m his son,” Kanter said. “These allegations are baseless and ridiculous, so how could I feel they’re safe?”

He said he respects Gulen and the Hizmet movement, rejecting Erdogan’s claims against them.

“I’m so close to Mr. Fethullah Gulen in terms of his life philosophy and teachings. I admire his way of extracting an individual’s inner potential … in order to be a better person in his or her community,” Kanter said.

“Erdogan should know that he’ll be brought to justice one day and pay for his mistakes. First, he should stop all his unjust, inhumane acts against the people of Turkey. Second, he should start making everybody’s life better in Turkey.”

Before moving to the US in 2009 to attend college in California, Kanter was a star basketball player in Turkey’s premier leagues.

He said despite playing for the NBA in the US, he still sees himself as a champion for Turkey and its people.

“I was Turkey’s best basketball player, and I’m still Turkey’s best basketball player. The only difference is that I’m now representing my country in the US. I left Turkey for a better opportunity in my career, to play in the NBA,” he added.

“I think everyone in society has an obligation to speak out on issues of human rights and democracy, and to stand tall against atrocities, inhumane practices and dictatorships,” Kanter said.

Celebrities like himself “have a bigger opportunity to make a difference and to raise awareness on such issues because of our platforms,” he added.

Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. (AFP)