TENNIS – Rafael Nadal swept aside Grigor Dimitrov with a double 6-2 to qualify for his ninth final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and his 40th Master 1000 final. Nadal set up a eagerly-awaited final against Novak Djokovic. The final that everyone wanted. Diego Sampaolo
Nadal broke serve to love for 1-0 when Dimitrov hit his backhand into the net and backed up his break holding serve in the second game to 15. In the first two games Nadal won 8 points to 1. Dimitrov held serve in the third game for 1-2.
Nadal won four consecutive points on serve for 4-2 before breaking serve for the second time in the match in the seventh game to pull away to 5-2 after 28 minutes. Nadal rallied from 0-15 to win four consecutive points closing out the first set in 33 minutes with 6-2. Nadal played a perfect first set in which he won 80 percent of his first serve points. Dimitrov made too many unforced errors
The start of the second set was very similar to the first set as Nadal broke serve to go up 1-0 in the opening game of the second set. Nadal faced a tougher challenge in the second game when he saved two break-back points.
Dimitrov held serve to win the third game for 1-2. Nadal backed up his opening break in the fourth game which came down to deuce before getting another break to pull away to 4-1 in the fifth game where Dimitrov committed an unforced error on his forehand. At 1-5 Dimitrov served to stay in the match and was able to fend off the first match point for 2-5.
In the eighth game Nadal made three unforced errors and faced the third break point of the match but he failed to convert it as he made an error with his backhand.
Nadal sealed the win with a forehand winner to set up a blockbuster final against Novak Djokovic who edged Milos Raonic in the afternoon.
Nadal won 73 percent of second serve points to win the fifth head-to-head match against Dimitrov but it was the first time that the Mallorcan star won in straight sets. On the contrary Dimitrov committed 32 unforced errors
“There are good days and bad days. Sometimes you have the right feeling and sometimes you don’t. I started the match in a perfect way. In the second set he made more mistakes than usual. I played a solid match with my backhand. Yesterday I played a good match and today was a good confirmation that I play better, that the forehand starts to fly again, as well as the top spins. It was a warmer day and that made the ball a little bit quicker. The first two matches I played here there was a lot of wind. It is true that I prefer daytime but the feeling tonight was good. Against Simon it was very cold and tonight the feeling was different.”
After three tough three-set battles against Giles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny and Andy Murray, Nadal won a one-sided match a comfortable night in which he was never under threat. He was too strong for Dimitrov who reached his first Master 1000 semifinal yesterday on his 23rd birthday. The young Bulgarian, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open, will have other chances in the future starting from the Roland Garros.
It will be the 41th head-to.head match between Nadal and Djokovic. The Spaniard leads 22-18 in their previous 40 matches. Djokovic beat Nadal in the 2011 final in Rome but the Mallorcan beat the Serb three times in their four Rome matches.
“Djokovic always plays unbelievable. He is a complete player and has all the shots. If I want to have chances to win, I have to play my best tennis and be aggressive. I twill be a very tough match.
Asked what he thinks about the new generation of players,” Nadal said:
“It’s normal that the younger players play better. It isn’t normal what has happened during the last 5 or 6 years with the same players winning all the most tournaments If you look at the history of our sport, the younger generation is always pushing. Dimitrov Raonic and Nishikori are very good players and they are young, not 18 or 19 like me and Djokovic when we started to be there but things are changing a bit. There are no more players of 18 or 19 starting to be at the top. It seems that players achieve their best a little bit later. They are the new generation who will win the most important tournaments in the next 5-6 years. It’s a normal thing, we don’t want to be here forever”, said Nadal
Stefanos Tsitsipas starts his Australian Open campaign with a straight-set win over Salvatore Caruso
Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist and ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas dropped just five games in his 6-0 6-2 6-3 win over Italy’s Salvatore Caruso after 1 hour and 43 minutes.
Tsitsipas earned three consecutive breaks to cruise to a bagel win in the opening set. Caruso saved the first break point and held his first service game to draw level to 1-1, but she Tsitsipas converted his third break point chance at deuce to open up a 3-1 lead. The Greek player earned his second break at love in the eighth game.
Tsitsipas went up a break at love in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Caruso saved three match points in the eighth game at 2-5 to prolong the match, but Tsitsipas served out the win at 30 with an ace down middle the court in the ninth game after 1 hour and 45 minutes setting up a second round match against either Phillip Kohlschreiber or Marcos Giron.
“Today I tried to stay calm. That was something that I had really in the back of my head, trying to stay calm, be aggressive on and off the court. I would describe the match the match as very stable. Throughout the match I was very focused. I was in the zone, and I am very happy with my first set. It was almost perfect. I don’t remember the last time that I won a set 6-0. It was a good quality tennis. Let’s not forget the people here. The people that bring the energy. I will give it to them”, said Tsitsipas in the post-match interview.
Matteo Berrettini cruises past wild card Andrew Harris to advance to the Australian Open second round
Number 8 seed and 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini cruised past Australian wild card Andrew Harris 6-3 6-1 6-3 in the first round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Berrettini converted five of his nine break points and hit 38 winners. The Italian player won the opening set 6-3 with a break in the second game at deuce and the second set with three consecutive breaks.
Berrettini came back from 0-40 down by winning five consecutive points in the sixth game of the third set to earn the break at deuce for 4-2 when Harris hit a forehand into the net. Berrettini sealed the win with a big forehand on the match point after 1 hour and 55 minutes.
Berrettini will take on either US Tennys Sandgren or Argentine qualifier Marco Trungelliti.
“It’s always tough because I played my last official match in November. I figured out how to play my best tennis, so I am really happy with my performance. Like always, I am going round by round. I am happy that I am healthy and playing well”, said Berrettini.
Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannick Sinner was leading 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 4-4, before the match was suspended due to rain. The Italian rising star converted four of his eight break points. Sinner went down a break in the seventh game to trail 3-5 in the opening set, but he broke back in the 10th game before winning the tie-break 7-2. Sinner broke twice to win the second set 6-2. Sinner went up a break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Purcell broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Sinner, who is making his first appearance at Melbourne Park, holds a 15-30 lead at 4-4 in the third set.
Sam Querrey stunned Borna Coric 6-3 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, who eased past Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-2 6-2.
Guido Pella edged Australian wild card John Patrick Smith 6-3 7-5 6-4 to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face France’s Gregoire Barrere, who came back from one set down to beat Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Safwat 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 7-6 (7-5).
Grigor Dimitrov Causes A Stir At Australian Open With Crazy Outfit
The world No.20 has split opinion about what he is wearing at Melbourne Park.
Grigor Dimitrov’s first round match at the Australian Open didn’t centre round how or who he was playing. It was about what he was wearing on the court.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist triggered a mass reaction on social media when walking into the Melbourne Arena wearing a navy blue Nike spotted tracksuit. A decision by the Bulgarian that has split opinion among tennis fans. Although Dimitrov has no regrets about the outfit, which he helped design along with Nike.
“It is! I just don’t wanna be a vanilla. I love being different,” the 28-year-old told reporters when asked if it was a fashion statement.
Dimitrov a set down to Londero — which he deserves just because of this. https://t.co/VEbLhe7LYH
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 20, 2020
Besides the tracksuit, the 18th seed also caught the attention of fans with what he was wearing underneath. His abstract T-shirt featured a combination of white, black, pink and red. Drawing more questions about the decision behind what he is wearing on the courts in Melbourne. His shorts are more orthodox with just a plain navy blue colour.
Dimitrov's outfit. pic.twitter.com/OdE0BjTzZj
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 20, 2020
In his first round match, Dimitrov battled back from a set down to edge out Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4. During the at times roller coaster encounter, the world No.20 hit 17 aces and blasted 47 winners past his opponent. Recording his third win of the season following his two singles victories during the ATP Cup.
“I was just trying to get my rhythm. It was a very tough first set. I was unable to find my striking zone and did a lot of unforced errors.” A critically speaking Dimitrov commented during his on-court interview.
Dimitrov will play either Tommy Paul or Leonardo Mayer in the second round.
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