Novak Djokovic gets Medvedev US Open revenge as Nadal and Federer comeback plans revealed

Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury

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Novak Djokovic made a triumphant return to the tennis court at the Rolex Paris Masters. The Serb had not played a match since suffering a devastating loss to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final but managed to get revenge over the Russian on Sunday as he lifted a record 37th Masters 1000 title, and also made history by becoming the first man to secure a seventh year-end No 1 finish.

While his rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been sidelined for several months, news of their respective comebacks surfaced last week as the Spaniard entered his first tournament, while Australian Open insiders revealed that the Swiss star was hoping to come back at the tournament in January.

Elsewhere, the first edition of the revamped Billie Jean King Cup was held in Prague last week and won by the Russian Tennis Federation, though not after some drama saw their final opponents Switzerland accuse them of using “ugly” tactics.

Express Sport takes a look at the biggest headlines in the last week of the tennis world from both on and off the court.

Novak Djokovic gets US Open revenge while clinching two records

The world No 1 was back in action last week for the first time in almost two months. Djokovic had not played since suffering a straight-sets loss at the hands of world No 2 Medvedev in the US Open final, losing the chance to make history by becoming the first man in 52 years to complete the Calendar Grand Slam, and the first male singles player in history to reach a record 21 Major titles.

Entering the Paris Masters, the Serb looked rusty as he dropped a set to world No 40 Marton Fucsovics in his first match and, after being given a walkover to the quarter-final, showed some tension as he gave several breaks away to Taylor Fritz, before springing to life partway through the second set and racing to glory.

The world No 1 was also forced to come from a set down in his final two matches, but clinched significant wins in both. A 3-6 6-0 7-6(5) victory over seventh seed and final qualifier for the ATP Finals, Hubert Hurkacz, gave him a record seventh finish as year-end No 1, breaking the record he previously shared with Pete Sampras.

He also mounted an impressive comeback against his US Open conqueror Medvedev in the final, securing a 4-6 6-3 6-3 victory to win a record 37th Masters 1000 title, and the first title of his career he won with his two children, Stefan and Tara, in the crowd.

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Rafael Nadal confirms comeback after season-ending foot injury

Nadal has played just two matches after suffering a shock semi-final defeat at the French Open, where he is a 13-time champion, back in June.

The 35-year-old attempted a comeback at the Washington ATP 500 in August, playing two three-setters, but later flew home and announced he was ending his season to give his left foot time to recover, having aggravated the issue during his loss to Djokovic at Roland Garros.

Now, the Spaniard is gearing up for his return to the match court after building back up to successfully training for “an hour and a half a day”.

“My plan is to play Abu Dhabi in December and then in a tournament before Australia and then the Australian Open. That’s my goal,” Nadal said earlier last week, before organisers of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi confirmed his return.

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Roger Federer could make return sooner than expected

Within days of his long-time rival and friend Nadal’s comeback announcement, a new claim about Federer’s own return to competition was made.

The 40-year-old has undergone three knee surgeries in less than two years, as he ended his 2020 season after the Australian Open – and before tennis was suspended for the pandemic – to have two surgeries on his troublesome right knee.

Having played just five tournaments this year, the former world No 1 admitted he suffered a “setback” with his knee during the grass court season and would be out for “many months” after opting to have another operation, but now it has been revealed that he could be back as soon as January, at the Australian Open.

Aussie former pro-turned-coach and pundit Darren Cahill told Sportsday Radio that organisers were “pretty sure” the six-time champion would make his return in Melbourne’s season-opening Grand Slam, saying: “Look, there’s so many great stories coming into the Australian Open. Not just on the men’s side with Roger apparently playing as well and we’re not quite sure.

“I know he’s doing a lot of work on the court at the moment and we’re pretty sure he’s coming down to play the Australian.”

Cahill, who recently ended a six-year coaching partnership with two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, later tweeted to clarify his comments, though said it was still understood that Federer was hoping to be back in time for January’s Grand Slam, as he wrote:  “So I rechecked with my contact at TA and we got our wires mixed. My wording should’ve been that he’s working hard and doing everything possible to play the AO. So, my bad if I’ve jumped the gun. Sorry Fed fans. But like everyone, hoping he makes it to the AO.”

Russian Tennis Federation accused of “ugly” tactics in Billie Jean King Cup victory

The rebranded Billie Jean King Cup, formerly known as the Fed Cup, made its return last week as 12 countries arrived in Prague for the event known as the World Cup of women’s tennis.

The Russian Tennis Federation put their country back in the winners’ circle for the first time since 2008, as world No 28 Daria Kasatkina needed just over an hour to secure a 6-2 6-4 victory over Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann in the first tie before world No 40 Liudmila Samsonova – subbed in at the last minute – defeated recent Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic on the final day to clinch victory for her country.

However, it was originally world No 12 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who was set to take on Bencic in the second tie, with Team Switzerland nominating the world No 17 for the clash, but after this year’s French Open runner-up became injured, Samsonova stepped in just 20 minutes before the match began, much to the dismay of Team Switzerland.

The world No 40 had a 2-0 win-loss record against Bencic, with both matches coming earlier this year, and the Swiss team later slammed the Russian Tennis Federation for the last-minute change.

“I think it was ugly to be honest, and I just think in the end the good will win and we will come back and win this title,” Bencic said, after her team lost the BJK Cup.

Meanwhile, team captain Heinz Guenthardt said: “It’s a little bit hard how it unfolded because if you feel like you’ve been beaten just by a better team, that’s fine, but there’s just this slight suspicion here that wasn’t just the case. It was a bit manipulated, so that hurts a little bit more.”

Looking ahead to this week, Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray are back in action, in Linz and Stockholm respectively, while the WTA Finals kicks off on Wednesday (November 10).

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