ATP Monte-Carlo interviews, Nadal: “I didn't play the right way. I didn't play with the right intensity with my forehand.” - UBITENNIS
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ATP Monte-Carlo interviews, Nadal: “I didn't play the right way. I didn't play with the right intensity with my forehand.”

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TENNIS ATP Monte-Carlo – D. FERRER/R. Nadal 7-6, 6-4 An interview with Rafael Nadal

Q. Can you explain what happened? Was it a bad day for you? Just a great day for him? How do you feel in general after this match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Was a tennis match. When you play tennis, you can lose, you can win. When the opponent is doing the things better than you, the normal thing is lose. That’s what happen today.

I didn’t play the right way. I didn’t play with the right intensity with my forehand. I played too short. I give him the chance to have the control of the point almost all the time.

He did much better than me, so just congratulate him

Q. Does losing here hurt more than losing at another tournament to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. Losing hurts everywhere. On clay always little bit more.

Is not lose, is the feeling on court was not the best one. So not happy today about what I did. Not very happy about the way that I played the second set after losing the first. I didn’t play with the right intensity at the beginning of the second. I give him big opportunity at the beginning of the second. I cannot do it.

Q. You had 44 unforced errors today. It’s very unusual for you. What reason do you see behind all those mistakes you had?

RAFAEL NADAL: The reasons is I am not playing enough well. That’s the main reason. I am not playing with the right intensity with my legs. When that happens, the unforced errors are there more often.

Is true that I started the year great in Doha and during Australia. But, I don’t know, I don’t have to lie to nobody. After what happened in Australia was little bit harder for me to find again the intensity, the confidence, the inside power that always I have.

Even if I won Rio, I played the final in Miami, you know, remains something in my mind and in my game. I going to fight to try to find that solution soon.

Q. You mentioned about confidence inside. Is there a problem with your confidence? Is there something that’s maybe affecting your confidence? You were 4‑1 against Gabashvili.

RAFAEL NADAL: Forget it. Is a completely different history. Doesn’t matter what happened in the first and second match. Is true if I lost that point at 4‑1 in the first game, will be hard to come back in the set. But is a different history. I think I still have little bit of room to win that match, even with the 4‑1.

Yesterday, too, I played good, with confidence. But is not that problem. The problem is when the match became little bit more to the limit, and not answering the right way as I normally do. So that’s it.

Q. A player like Ferrer, he doesn’t give you anything. He fights for every point. It’s very hard to stay in every point and find the intensity?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, is not very hard. That’s tennis. That’s the sport. Fight for every point: that’s the way to win.

With my style of game, I don’t know another way. I am not a player who will win in two shots. I can do it when I am playing very, very well. But normally I play the points. I fight for the points. I’m playing with no mistakes. I’m playing with a very regular level. Is something I was not able to do. He did much better than me.

That’s my feeling, my personal feeling. I’m talking from a tennis player from inside the court. That’s my view of what’s going on. But I can be wrong.

Q. Did David surprise you in some way with something he did, something which was new or strange that he did this match?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. David always plays great. He’s a fantastic player. He’s top, top player. To win against him, you have to be at the top level, no?

Last year I played with him in Madrid. I was two points away to lose the match. I played against him in Rome. I won very long match in three sets. And is true in the final of Roland Garros, I won in straight sets.

But always a big challenge play against him. Is not surprise. Only difference is you’re not playing very well, you’re not in a good position when you’re playing against him. I didn’t play well today.

Q. Regarding confidence, is what happened in Australia still in the back of your mind?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think after what happened, not only the lose, the same time, too, the pain in my back that I had, I had to do treatment after Australia, not playing for three weeks. I played in Rio. After Rio I had to stop for 10 or 12 days again because the back still hurt me.

But after that I feel the back much better. So I already have since Indian Wells to here I am doing a regular work. Should be okay for that.

No, no, is not an excuse on the back. No, the back is in good shape. Physical performance is in good shape. No problems about that.

Just keep working to try to find the solution for next week in Barcelona. I going to try to play well in there and fight for the matches.

Q. What is your state of mind right now? Is it more frustration, anger, doubting, surprise?

RAFAEL NADAL: Lose against David Ferrer is not surprise. Frustration? I cannot be frustrated to lose a tennis match. In the life there is much more important things than a tennis match.

But I am not happy with it. I feel that I have to do more than what I did today. So when you feel that you can do more, always you come back home or to the next tournament with not the best feeling. That’s my feeling today.

I didn’t find the solution. Not talking about winning or losing, but the solution of my game at the right time. You can lose because David is a fantastic player.

No frustration, no drama. Just tennis match. But at the end I prefer to win (smiling).

ATP

Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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ATP

Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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ATP

Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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