Novak Djokovic has moved on to the second round of the Japan Open, continuing his comeback from injury and compensating for his elimination from doubles competition.
Djokovic beat Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-2 to move on to the second round where he will take on wild card entry Go Soeda.
The win also served as Djokovic’s first competitive match since retiring with a left-shoulder injury during his fourth-round clash with Stan Wawrinka at the U.S. Open, and he spoke about his shoulder following his victory.
“My shoulder is good, I didn’t feel any pain in today’s match,” Djokovic said (h/t ESPN)
“I thought from beginning to end that I played very well, very consistent, high level, good intensity, and plenty of chances on his serve. I was able to step it up in the second set and finished the match well.
“I saw Soeda’s match yesterday. Playing at home is always extra motivation, so I’m sure all the Japanese players feel inspired to play their best tennis, and that’s something I’m expecting from him tomorrow.”
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England’s Emma Raducanu Advances At Wimbledon
England’s Emma Raducanu won in straight sets in her first-round singles match against Alison Van Uytvanck in 101 minutes, winning 6-4, 6-4 in what was her first match on Centre Court to advance at Wimbledon.
“To play on Centre Court and get a win first time, it’s amazing,” Raducanu said following the match, according to ESPN’s Tom Hamilton. “Now every time I go back, I’m just going to have a great first experience.”
“I definitely feel a really good energy,” Raducanu said, who is the reigning US Open champion and ranked No. 11. “Like how can you not playing here? Just walking around, you really feel the positivity. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot in the last year.
“But it hasn’t necessarily all been terrible. I won my first round at every Slam. As a 19-year-old, I pretty much just took my gap year and, like, starting again now.
“If the last year hadn’t have happened, then I think that any 19-year-old walking onto Centre Court would be a positive experience for you. And it was. And I definitely embodied that today.”
Raducanu was wearing an item of clothing from tennis superstar Rafael Nadal’s clothing brand, someone she says she draws inspiration from as he has battled injuries to claim victory at the Australian Open and the French Open this year.
“I think Rafa just embodies fight, that sort of energy,” Raducanu said. “That’s what I’m bringing in. In terms of energy-wise, I think that I have had a tough year, like it’s no secret. It is all worth it just to go out on Centre Court and get a win like that.
“I definitely am very happy to be here. All the lessons I’ve taken from the last year will only hold me in good stead for the future.”
Matthew Wolff Leaves PGA Tour for LIV Golf
LIV Golf has taken more talent from the PGA Tour as Matthew Wolff will will play in this week’s LIV Golf tournament at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon, the first to take place in the United States, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
Wolff, 23, had an incredible rise to the start of his PGA Tour career but has been struggling over the past few months to regain his exciting form. Wolff tied for 40th in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, on Sunday.
Wolff turned pro in June 2019 and won less than a month later, tied for fourth at the 2020 PGA Championship, his first start in a major, and was second at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and then things took a turn has he struggled over the majority of the past two seasons.
Wolff took two months off from golf in 2021 to focus on his mental health. Wolff returned to play in the U.S Open and ended up tying for 15th place. Wolff has missed the cut in seven of his past 12 starts this season and hasn’t finished inside the top 25, and is ranked 74th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
LIV Golf continues to steal headlines, in the fashion that Sports SEO would, and a number of sports content creators and sports talk podcasts are taking notice of it’s momentum, stealing a number of talent from the PGA Tour.
Wolff is one of the sports more popular players, so his defection will make waves for sure.
Phil Mickelson to play the Saudi International tournament on the European Tour
Phil Mickelson has decided to play the Saudi International tournament on the European Tour, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.
Mickelson will play the event the same week as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA event that Mickelson has won three times during his career.
The European Tour added the Saudi International, which is supported by the government of Saudi Arabia, to it’s schedule last year, amidst a ton of criticism.
“I am really looking forward to playing in Saudi Arabia in January,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I watched Dustin [Johnson] win the title last year and thought the course looked like an interesting challenge. Having so many talented players on show also made it look like a much more established tournament than one in its inaugural year. I have enjoyed my previous visits to the Middle East and am looking forward to playing in a new country and doing my bit to grow the game in the Kingdom.”
Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Tony Finau also have committed to play the event which takes place from January 30th through February 3rd.
With golf becoming more mainstream, especially with the rise in sports talk podcasts, it will be interesting to see how NFT artists play into the Golf sport, and if it will be a play as the web3 market continues to grow.
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