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John McEnroe reveals the biggest hurdle in Novak Djokovic’s path to US Open glory – and it’s not an opponent

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Djokovic will be chasing history in New York over the next fortnight as victory will see him move past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the outright holder for most Grand Slams with 21 while he is also looking to become the second man after Rod Laver in 1969 to win a Calendar Grand Slam in the Open Era.

There will be no Federer, Nadal or defending champion Dominic Thiem at the hard-court Grand Slam as they are out injured, but the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stfanos Tsitsipas have been tipped to trouble the Serbian.

However, seven-time major winner McEnroe believes nature will be a bigger obstacle in Djokovic path instead of the other players in the main draw.

“I would say the biggest threat, first of all, the biggest threat to Djokovic in my book is the conditions, like the heat. He’s a human being. I think that could affect him more than his opponent,” he said during an ESPN US Open preview call.

“Other than that, I mean, you’re looking at the new wave coming in. We thought maybe Medvedev was going to be able to do a number finally at Australia, where Novak pretty much gave him a lesson there.

“[Denis] Shapovalov was playing great in the semis of Wimbledon, but at the big moments couldn’t cash in. That seems to be the trend. Thiem almost got him at Australia last year. Couldn’t do it. Now he’s not even playing. It takes a huge, huge effort to do that.

“It’s difficult to say who of those guys, whether it’s Zverev, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, those are the obvious ones that come to mind for me, who would be in best position to do that. I couldn’t predict. I would say it would be one of those three players, if it was.

“I don’t think at this stage, a guy like [John] Isner, who no one wants to play, or [Reilly] Opelka, the guys that can take the racket out of your hand, over a best-of-five, that’s a much taller order to beat Novak than it would be at, say, a Cincinnati type event where you’re playing two-out-of-three.

“The other part is just the pressure, if that gets to him. Lord knows what everyone has been going through the past year and a half, all this talk about mental health. What happened last year at the Open for him when he was defaulted, all that is going to play somewhat of a factor. The fact he didn’t win a medal at the Olympics, will that matter? I think it will, but we just don’t know the answer to that.”

Exclusive – Former British No 1 on the ‘painful’ treatment Novak Djokovic gets from tennis fans
Djokovic heads to New York on the back of a semi-final exit from the Tokyo Olympics with the defeat ending his hopes of a Golden Grand Slam.

“I anticipate that he’s going to win the tournament, that’s what I anticipate. I felt before Wimbledon started that he was going to win the Grand Slam,” he said. “I felt like he was going to lose at the Olympics. The two-out-of-three format, just excessive travel, no fans, et cetera, I think contributed. I think the heat is the big thing.

“To me it’s going to be him against the field. I pick him right now. The heat could be an issue for any player, any top player, any player for that matter. That could be a deciding factor if he were to lose to someone, if he got stuck in a situation where he was playing in really hot conditions, if he was playing during the day. Otherwise I think he’s going to do it.”

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Queen ‘disappointed’ with Meghan Markle, Harry over christening move

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Queen Elizabeth is reportedly ‘disappointed’ over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to christen Lilibet within the US and a former butler believes she’ll be heartbroken to miss such a special event.

Some former staffers even fear she’ll be utterly heartbroken if she is not able to participate in the grand event.

The Firm’s former royal butler Grant Harrold made this claim during his interview with Express.

There he speculated upon the possible plan of action Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may take regarding the christening, for the Queen, and claimed, “I am sure if this does not take place in the UK, the Queen will be disappointed to not attend the christening of her great-granddaughter.”

He also went on to add, “However, as with many families who have family overseas, sometimes it is not possible.”

“Maybe their christening will be recorded so the family in the UK can watch as well? Family is very important to the Queen and I am sure before too long she will meet her great-granddaughter.”

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Oleksandr Usyk sends warning to Tyson Fury ahead of Anthony Joshua rematch

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Oleksandr Usyk will put his newly won WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts on the line in his rematch with Anthony Joshua next year, but he’s already thinking about taking on Tyson Fury. The Ukrainian, 34, left British boxing fans stunned when he outclassed Joshua in London last month, scuppering hopes of a long awaited clash between Fury and ‘AJ’ in early 2022.

Joshua, 31, did promptly trigger his rematch clause however, before Fury came through his stunning trilogy bout with Deontay Wilder to retain his WBO and Ring Magazine titles.

Now Usyk, who after Evander Holyfied and David Haye is only the third fighter to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight level, is plotting to again get past Joshua before targeting a lucrative unification fight with ‘The Gypsy King’.

Speaking to The Sun, he was asked if he could see a clash with Fury happening: “Yes, of course, I do regard this fight a huge one. I see him as a very good fighter, good athlete, he talks a lot, he has a tongue.

“He claims he’s the king of the kings, but it’s only he who thinks that. That’s what I can say about him.”

Usyk, who won Olympic Gold at heavyweight level in the London 2012 Olympics, now has a professional record of 19-0-0, but was second favourite to beat Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

He cites that factor as further reason as to why he can potentially overcome Fury.

“Before my Joshua fight everyone was saying that I haven’t got a single chance to win and beat Joshua,” he continued.

“I used to hear those types of things throughout my life, but I am capable of beating Fury because I’m not boasting that I can just punish and beat every boxer in the world, but I just go to the gym and do my job.”

Hughie Fury could fight Derek Chisora in huge domestic fight
Since beating Wilder in Las Vegas, Fury, 33, has declared himself the beat heavyweight of this generation, and Usyk appeared to take a dig at that claim by adding “I’m not trying to present myself as the king of the Universe.

“I do what I have to do. I concentrate and I’m focused and I get the result according to my effort.”
The Ukrainian did however, acknowledge that Fury’s unique boxing style made him successful and brought him victories, which he said was the “main thing.”
As for Fury’s next opponent, that remains unclear after Dillian Whyte was forced to postpone his bout with Otto Wallin because of a shoulder injury.
Fury’s next opponent is unclear

Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn takes dig at Tyson Fury

Whyte, 33, is the mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBO crown, and it was widely thought a win over Wallin on October 30 would pave the way for a world title shot for ‘The Body Snatcher’.

Whyte, who has long been embroiled in an online war of words with Fury, said this week: “I am devastated as I had a great camp, was in great shape, and had great sparring.

“I was looking forward to knocking Wallin out and would have done so in the first half of the fight.”

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Tennis great’s message to Emma Raducanu amid coaching drama

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British teenage tennis phenomenon Emma Raducanu has been urged to find some coaching stability after a tumultuous period in the wake of her historic US Open title.

Raducanu raised eyebrows after parting ways with coach Andrew Richardson after her US Open victory – in a move that surprised many tennis commentators.

Richardson coached the teenage star for two years at youth level and linked up with her again in July on a short-term deal for the duration of her time in the United States.

However, Raducanu said she was looking for a coach with more experience at the elite level of world tennis.

The 18-year-old parted ways with coach Nigel Sears after her breakthrough Wimbledon run to the last 16, where she eventually succumbed to breathing difficulties.

She then linked up with Richardson to claim an almost unthinkable maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows, before again deciding to move on to new pastures.

Raducanu’s partnership with Katie Boulter’s coach Jeremy Bates was always going to be a stop-gap situation for the Indian Wells tournament in which the Brit crashed out in her first match.

Pictured here, Emma Raducanu speaks to the media at the Indian Wells tournament.
Emma Raducanu’s search for a new coach has taken many in the tennis world by surprise. Pic: AAP
The World No.24 is now set to link up with Spaniard Esteban Carril – who previously worked with fellow Brit Johanna Konta, before being axed just weeks after she was named most improved player of 2016 and broke into the world’s top ten.

Raducanu in set to play in the Transylvania Open in her father’s native Romania, but Carril is not set to start his tenure with the Brit until after the tournament.

Carril will be Raducanu’s fourth different coach in four months and British tennis great Greg Rusedksi says the teenager needs to find some stability for her game to flourish.

“Esteban (Carril) did a great job with Jo Konta when she had her big breakthrough and got into the top 10 in the world,” he said.

“Hopefully this works out for Emma. But she needs consistency from a team point of view to push on with all the success she has had at the US Open.”

Former British tennis player Barry Cowan said despite enjoying success at Wimbledon and then the US Open, Raducanu simply cannot keep churning through the coaches.

Teen warned about chopping and changing
“She made the Last 16 of Wimbledon and the coach got fired. She won the US Open and the coach got fired,” Cowan said.

“You cannot keep running your career like that. It will eventually catch up with you.

“Certainly she needs to build up and strike a relationship with Esteban. I hope it is successful and lasts.

“I don’t care who you are, whether you are Emma Raducanu, Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic, if you are having coaches short-term, it’s going to come back to bite you.”

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