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Opelka, Bencic Win in US Tourneys; Djokovic Motivated to Compete Again

American Reilly Opelka won the tallest final in Association of Tennis Professionals Tour history. Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic claims her first clay-court title of her career on Sunday. The 6-foot-11 Opelka downed 6-foot-10 compatriot John Isner 6-3, 7-6 (9/7). This happens in the final of the US Clay Court Championship in Houston, Texas. The 24-year-old Opelka powered past his idol, the 36-year-old Isner, en route to winning the title. The matchup bills as the tallest ATP Tour final of the open era.

After the match, the St. Joseph, Michigan-born netter said that the 6-foot-10 Isner was his role model and he grew up watching the American play. The victory was Opelka’s fifth against Isner in six head-to-head matches. It was his second title of the year and fourth overall. It places him as one of America’s best hopes in tennis this year. Opelka’s victory on clay places him as one of the top ATP Tour betting prospects for next month’s French Open.

Bencic Wins in Charleston

On the women’s side, Bencic dug deep to defeat Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. The two-hour-and-35-minute match almost had an early conclusion after the Swiss Olympic champion won the first set at 6-1. Jabeur, however, found her range in the second set to force a decider. Bencic got her game going in the third set. She improves her first-serve percentage to put her rival on the defensive and secures the win. This was Jabeur’s fourth loss in five WTA finals matches she took part in. Bencic paid tribute to her foe in the end, saying that the event “deserved” two champions. The Swiss star beat Wang Xiyu, Linda Fruhvirtova, Madison Keys, world number three Paula Bedosa and Ekaterina Alexandrova to reach the final. The Charleston WTA victory is the sixth title won by Bencic overall.

Djokovic All Set to Compete Again

World number one Novak Djokovic has expressed readiness to return to the tennis court after months of controversy regarding his coronavirus vaccination status. Djokovic is in Monaco to compete in the Monte Carlo Masters where he will try to claim his first title of the year. The Serbian superstar says that he is missing taking part in high-level competitions. Tours motivate him to challenge the best players in the world. The 20-time Grand Slam winner has played one tournament this year in Dubai, where he lost to Jiri Vesely. He fails to defend his Australian Open title in January. This is after the deportation of the tennis superstar from Australia for the lack of vaccination. The development allowed Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal to capture his 21st Grand Slam title and move past Djokovic and Federer on the all-time list. 


Moreover, the Serbian was forced to miss other competitions in Indian Wells, California and Miami due to the same reason and declared that he would not get the vaccine just to compete in tennis events around the world. He insisted that what happened in Australia has not impacted his ability to win. Djokovic will begin his quest to win the Monte Carlo Masters title on Tuesday as French authorities and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions last month. This allowed people who are not yet vaccinated to enter indoor venues, such as restaurants and sports arenas. The Serbian said that the clay in Monaco is the ideal surface to kickstart his comeback and will use the tournament to gauge his chances in the French Open next month. Despite the lack of appearance in competitions this year, Djokovic remains the top choice by sports oddsmakers around the world. His scheduled appearance in Monaco kick starts his clay-court campaign where he seeks to win his 21st Grand Slam title in the 2022 French Open in Roland Garros.