Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 12th of May 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 12th of May 2014

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TENNIS – Mardy Fish to try and qualify for the Golf US Open. The list of qualified players and Wild Cards in Rome. Dinara Safina retires. IPTL moves the opener to Manila and Nadal becomes an honorary citizen of Madrid. Joshua Bosco

 

Fish to play US Open qualifiers

While other tennis players are busy on clay, former World No.7 Mardy Fish is trying to qualify for the US Open… not the one played in Flushing Meadows though.

The American is taking part in local qualifiers hoping to earn a place in the prestigious golf Major Championship and, after shooting a 73 at the TPC Valencia in LA, he is now the first alternate. The tournament will take place in Pinehurst, North Carolina from June 12th to June 15th.

All we can say is, good luck Mardy!

Qualifiers and wildcards in Rome

Italians Simone Bolelli, Marco Cecchinato, Paolo Lorenzi and Filippo Volandri have all received wildcards for the BNL Internazionali d’Italia which are underway in Rome. Among the seven qualifiers we find 33 year old Stephane Robert, who got himself noticed at this year’s Australian Open when he became the first Lucky Loser to reach the fourth round – where he eventually lost to Murray in four sets – and Italian World No.296 Stefano Travaglia, who will play his first ATP World Tour level match against another Italian, World No.164 Bolelli.

In the women’s draw Italians Nastassja Burnett, Camila Giorgi and Karin Knapp have received wildcards while Mona Barthel , Lauren Davis, Belinda Bencic and Christina McHale are among the qualifiers for the main draw. Paula Ormaechea will play in the first round as a Lucky Loser.

Who’s not playing in Rome

Juan Martin del Potro, Nicolas Almagro, Richard Gasquet, Florian Mayer, Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire have all announced their withdrawal before the start of the tournament. Novak Djokovic, who didn’t play in Madrid, is expected to play here in Rome while World No.4 Roger Federer is still in doubt after his wife Mirka gave birth to twins last Tuesday.

Victoria Azarenka is still off court due to her ongoing foot injury, while Kaia Kanepi and former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki announced their withdrawal last week. Serena Williams, who withdrew from her Madrid quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova due to a left thigh injury, is already in Rome and expects to be ready to play her second round match against either Romina Oprandi or Andrea Petkovic.

Dinara Safina officially retires

Former World No.1 Dinara Safina has officially called time on her career, three years after playing her last match on the WTA Tour.

“I played the last professional tournament of my career here in Madrid and that’s why I think it’s the best place for me to quit the game” said Safina, who kept delaying the official announcement in the hope of recovering from the back injury sustained during her second round match against Julia Georges in May 2011.

IPTL opener moves to Manila

Due to a tense political situation in Thailand, where the Prime Minister was ousted for nepotism by the Constitutional Court after months of anti-government protests, IPTL organisers have decided to move the first leg of the tournament from Bangkok to Manila, in the Philippines.

League founder and doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi released a statement saying that bringing tennis to new audiences has always been one of the IPTL’s objectives and Manila is a perfect city to do so, thanks to world class indoor venues which hold more than 20,000 spectators.

This means that Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Victoria Azarenka will now represent Manila against Singapore, Dubai and Mumbai. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are among other players who will take part in this new competition, set to start in late November.

Nadal is now a Honorary Citizen

Last Monday World No.1 Rafael Nadal was awarded the Honorary Citizenship of the city of Madrid in a ceremony that took place at the Cibeles Palace, the Madrid City Hall.

The honorary title, which is the highest honour that the city can grant to people who were not born there, is intended as an acknowledgment of Nadal’s “extraordinary sports career” and to enforce the close tie that binds the tennis player to the Spanish capital.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Almighty Sinner Scare to Reach Wimbledon Semis

The dramatic encounter featured a fight back, multiple breaks of serve and even an injury scare.

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Reigning champion Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to keep his hopes of winning a seventh Wimbledon title alive after ousting Jannik Sinner in a five-set thriller.

 


Djokovic, who only dropped six games against Sinner in their previous Tour meeting, was forced to battle back from two sets down to prevail 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, in a roller-coaster encounter on Center Court. The triumph marks Djokovic’s 84th win at the tournament which is the joint-second highest tally in history alongside Jimmy Connors. Only Roger Federer has won more.

“Huge congratulations to Jannik today for a big fight. I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of opportunities for him on the big stage. He’s mature for his age and is already an established top 15 player over the last few years,” said Djokovic.
“He was unfortunate today but he has plenty of time.”

Taking on one of the most promising future prospects of men’s tennis, Djokovic’s latest encounter was a match of two halves. Initially, he appeared as if he would suffer a shock loss to world No.13 before he managed to conjure up an emphatic comeback. Breaking Sinner’s spirit who was bidding to become only the third Italian man to reach a Wimbledon semi-final in history.

“We had two different matches. He was the better player for two sets. (Then) I went out for a toilet break, had a little pep talk (with myself) in the mirror,” the 20-time major winner revealed.
“Sometimes in these circumstances where not much is happening positively for you on the court in terms of tennis. These things are necessary – a little break and pep talk to try to recuperate.’
“I was fortunate to start well in the third set by breaking his serve and that gave me the confidence boost. I saw a bit of doubt in his game and my experience of these kinds of matches helped me.”

The first set was a roller-coaster encounter between the two tennis titans on Center Court. Reigning champion Djokovic started out guns blazing by winning seven points in a row before Sinner got onto the scoreboard after prevailing in a 17-shot rally. The top seed looked to be in full control until a double fault on break point enabled his rival to bounce back. Continuing to play some inspired tennis with blistering shot-making, a cross-court winner enabled the Italian to break once again and this time had the chance to serve the opener out. A task he passed with flying colors.

Continuing to take his game to Djokovic, Sinner appeared unfazed about trying to become the youngest men’s semi-finalist at SW19 since 2007. Producing powerful hitting from the baseline, the 20-year-old extended his lead two games into the second frame. A stunning backhand volley followed by a Djokovic error elevated him to a 2-1 advantage. Spurred on by the crowd, the unprecedented onslaught continued with the help of some costly errors from the Serbian. He sealed the double break with the help of a successful Hawk-Eye challenge before securing a two-set lead in his favor with the help of a 122mph service.

Facing a swift exit, Djokovic once again illustrated the fighting spirit that he is renowned for. Capitalizing on a blip in form from Sinner, he cruised through the third set to resurrect his chances. 

Steaming rolling his way into a decider, Djokovic continued his dominance during the fourth frame by winning four straight games. However, closing that set out was full of drama. First, Sinner suffered an injury scare after going over his ankle before continuing. Then Djokovic fended off a break point and squandered two set points before closing it out. 

A stunning sliding passing shot in the decider set Djokovic up with a chance to break and move to a game away from victory. Something he did with the help of a Sinner error which the Italian instantly regretted by putting both his hands on his head. After that mishit, Djokovic ended the clash with a love service game. 

“I’ve been blessed to play professional tennis for 20 years but nevertheless I go through those doubtful moments like everybody else. The inner fight is always the biggest fight. Once you win the fight the external circumstance is more likely to go in your favor. I knew I could turn this match around. I have done that a few times in grand slams.” Djokovic concluded.


 

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Why Rafael Nadal Faces His Biggest Test Yet

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins UbiTennis to reflect on the highs and lows of day 8 of Wimbledon.

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Will the upcoming quarter-final be Rafael Nadal’s hardest match yet? How will Nick Kyrgios’ shoulder recover?

 

The second Monday at Wimbledon was one full of intrigue in the men’s draw. Whilst on the women’s side, Simona Halep was in impressive form against Paula Badosa but tennis commentator Flink explains why he thinks her upcoming clash with Amanda Anisimova will be tougher.

Alongside Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Flink also looks at Jannik Sinner’s chances of causing a huge upset against reigning champion Novak Djokovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Rafael Nadal Coy Over New Injury Speculation

After the foot problems in Paris, there is a strong possibility the Spaniard could be experiencing another injury issue.

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image via twitter.com/atp

There are fresh concerns surrounding Rafael Nadal after he declined to go into the reason why he was wearing abdominal taping during his fourth round match at Wimbledon. 

 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was seen wearing some kind of protection in the abdominal area after changing his t-shirt during one of the breaks. In recent weeks Nadal has been dealing with physical issues due to a long-term foot condition he has. At the French Open he revealed that he had to undergo injections in order for him to continue playing en route to winning the tournament for a 14th time.

Playing 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal battled his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6), win. Speaking to reporters after his latest win at The All England Club, the Spaniard sidestepped a question about a potential abdominal problem he could be experiencing. 

“I am a little bit tired of talking about my body. It’s not that I don’t want to answer your question, but at the same time sometimes I am tired of myself, all the issues that I am having. I prefer to not talk about that now,” he replied.
“I am in the middle of the tournament and I have to keep going. All respect for the rest of the opponents. I am just trying my best every single day. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Continuing to stay coy about his form and health, Nadal offered an alternative perspective when asked if he was nearing his best level once again. He has dropped just two sets in four matches played so far at Wimbledon which is his first grass-court event since 2019. 

“It’s always the same here. It’s not about how close I am to the level or not. I don’t know that. I can’t predict what can happen.” He said.
“But the positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good. Then two days ago I played at a high level for the first time. And today most of the matches, again, at a very positive level.”

The straight sets scoreline failed to tell the true story of Nadal’s roller-coaster win on Center Court. Taking on Zandschulp, a player who burst onto the main scene last year by reaching the US Open quarter-finals as a qualifier, the 22-time major champion engaged in a match of two halves. Nadal looked on the verge of an easy victory after breaking once in the first set, twice in the second and storming to a 5-2 in the third. However, the Dutchman refused to go down without a fight by displaying his best tennis of the match to draw level. 

Now engaged in his first real test, Nadal was under intense pressure to close it out in three. If he didn’t there would have been an inevitable delay for the roof to come on due to poor light. If that occurred, there would be less than two hours of play left before the 11pm curfew began.

Nevertheless, Nadal didn’t need the roof as he squeezed through the tiebreaker. After squandering three consecutive match points, he prevailed on his fourth with the help of a lob that triggered Zandschulp to smash the ball out. 

Nadal is through to his 47th major quarter-final and is only the third man in the Open Era to do so at Wimbledon after celebrating his 36th birthday. In total, he has won 309 main draw matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

In the last eight, the Spaniard has a shot of revenge when he takes on Taylor Fritz who ended his 20-match winning streak earlier this year in Indian Wells. During that match, Nadal had a rib injury and he had beaten the American earlier that month in Mexico. 

“That last match (in Indian Wells) was zero because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things because the pain was terrible playing that match.” He said. 

As for Fritz, he believes their upcoming clash will be at a higher standard given the form both players are currently in. Fritz is currently on a eight-match winning streak after recently claiming the Eastbourne Open title. 

“It’s going to be a lot different match obviously. Indian Wells was kind of crazy with both of us being extremely beaten up before the final. This time I think we’ll get healthier versions of both of us, we’ll see.” Fritz previewed.

The question for nadal, is how healthy is the current version of him really is? Only time will tell. 

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