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US Open Diary - Dent's Emotional Return; Djokovic Adds Martin To Team

Day 2

Taylor Dent© Getty ImagesTaylor Dent last played at the US Open in 2005.

Yeah, Baby!
Taylor Dent paused for perhaps one second to contemplate what he had just achieved. And then, after clinching his third match point against Felciano Lopez under lights on a packed court 11, the American let out a primal scream powered by the last remaining reserves of his energy. And who could blame him? Dent, who had been told by doctors after two back surgeries in 2006 and 2007 that he would never play again,  last competed at Flushing Meadows in 2005.

''Three years since I played my last match here,” Dent said. “It was tough coming back in those couple years; I was commentating and watching these guys. I was jealous. I was happy for everybody that was doing well. I'm friends with them all, but I was jealous. I wanted to be here competing and playing well and playing matches.  So to be back here accomplishing that is pretty remarkable. I still have a long way to go.  I still feel like my game is still pretty rough around the edges, but it's extremely exciting.”

Dent said that at one point during a two-year layoff following the back surgeries that he had accepted that his career was over.“I was told by the doctors that this was not realistic. I kind of succumbed to the fact I had to have the surgeries to have a normal life, I came to grips with the fact that I wasn't going to be able to play professional tennis anymore.

“The toughest time for me was actually when I was told after everything I'd been through that I could get back out there and start playing tennis again. I got so excited, so worked up, [that] I'd get out there for the first time to hit tennis balls. Oh, my gosh, I was tired after hitting five balls up and down the court. I was hitting the ball horrible. That moment right there kind of reshaped the way I look at things now and think about things. To come from there and be where I am now is pretty unbelievable. “

Watch Dent Video 


Djokovic Adds Martin To Coaching Crew
Novak Djokovic has added Todd Martin to his coaching team, the World No. 4 confirmed after his straight-sets win over Ivan Ljubicic on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Djokovic revealed that he and Martin, a fellow former US Open finalist, worked together last week in New Jersey in preparation for the Open. Djokovic says that Marian Vajda, his coach since June 2006, remained at the helm, but said that Martin’s involvement may be expanded.

“I wanted to be working with somebody that can help me out with my serve and my volley game… a lot of different variety, and somebody that has been on top of the men's tennis, and somebody that has a positive attitude and great experience,” Djokovic said. “I think Todd is a perfect guy for that. He always looks for positives, and this is exactly what I need. We are going to try to work as much as we can, as much as his schedule allows him to do that. Marian is still in the game. He's still my coach. I'm not stopping to work with him. So we're going to have a nice team together.”

Djokovic described the initial three-week arrangement with Martin as a “test period,” adding “If we like to work with each other, if everything goes well, we gonna definitely talk for the schedule afterwards and then see from then on.”

Former World No. 4 Martin reached the 1994 Australian Open and 1999 US Open finals.

I’m Not Here For The Tennis
He may be a Grand Slam champion and the current World No. 4, but Djokovic still remains well known in some circles for his impersonations of fellow players. As the 22 year old was signing autographs after his match, a group of small children asked him when he was going to bust out his latest impersonation. “I’m here a little bit to play tennis,” Djokovic told the kids. “No, I don't care for that, just impersonations,” came the cheeky reply. Djokovic says that he’ll still make the occasional impersonation, but that his work will now only be seen on the practice court.

A Tale Of Two Brothers
On Monday, Ecuadorian qualifier Giovanni Lapentti suffered a heartbreaking five-set loss, 11 points to nine in the fifth-set tie-break. On Tuesday there was better news for the Lapentti family when older brother Nicolas came from two sets down to upset 19th seed Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 6-3. Nico was himself on the wrong end of a five-set result in the first-round of last year’s US Open, when he was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu.

On Tuesday Lapentti became just the 13th player in the Open Era to notch six or more comeback victories from two sets down. Aaron Krickstein tops the list with 10 comebacks from 0-2 down. Lapentti has now played 44 matches that have gone five sets, placing him 10th on the list of most five-set matches played. His five-set record is 30 wins and 14 losses, one of the highest winning percentages of the Open Era.

Fans Divided
Chilean fans are among the most colourful of all supporters at the US Open. So the first-round meeting between Olympic heroes Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu made for an uncomfortable match-up. Gonzalez and Massu teamed to win Olympic gold in men’s doubles at the Athens Olympics. Massu also won singles gold and Gonzalez singles bronze. But on Tuesday it was Gonzalez who walked away with the singles honours, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to claim his fifth win in six career meetings with Massu.

Quote Of The Day
“It was just under a year total that I was in bed for pretty much 23 hours a day. A big effort for me at the time was just walking down the street.” – Taylor Dent on his recovery after two back surgeries.

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