Mutua Madrid Open 2014 Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “The ranking is lying a lot of times. The ranking is not fair a lot of times.” - UBITENNIS
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Mutua Madrid Open 2014 Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “The ranking is lying a lot of times. The ranking is not fair a lot of times.”

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TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – An interview with Rafael Nadal.

 

Q. You’re in a little bit weird month because it’s been a time that you didn’t go in Monte Carlo on a Friday, Barcelona you left on a Friday. You’ve got a lot of the time to rest. Do you think that’s good for Madrid?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. It’s not good for me. The good thing is when you’ve been winning it’s good for you. You have momentum and you can keep doing things well.

Well, when you lose, you have a hard moment, you have more doubts. Well, yes, I have a little bit time. I need more time to move, choose where to strike the ball.

But no, no, that’s what happened. I’ve already said it several times. I didn’t pretend to win Monte Carlo 12 times or Barcelona 12 times. Maybe that may not be normal. This is the reality of the situation.

Maybe it’s normal to lose three times on the quarterfinals. Maybe what’s not normal is what happened during the past nine years.

But we’ll be here to fight and to try to play even better. I don’t think I have to change many things. I think I can change very small things, and the change can be quite drastic and quite big.

That’s what I’m working on right now.

 

Q. These small changes that you’re talking about, what do you think they are? What are the changes you’re talking about?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, they’re pretty simple. In the end, tennis doesn’t have a lot of capacity of analysis. It’s not a really complicated sport. It’s pretty simple. I have to move a little bit better on the court. I have to be better in my drive with a little bit more decision.

I think the backhand, I’ve been doing it pretty well. I just need a little bit more authority when I’ve been training with my drive. Just a little bit more authority on my drive. The backhand was working well. If I work on my drive well, the backhand is going to be better on its own.

I just need to win. I think that in Barcelona I had a good opportunity. I think I was pretty close. I think that in many moments I deserved to do it, but that tennis is a fair game. The game all the time was on my side.

So, you know, I was playing    my attitude was pretty well. So I think I cannot have a better attitude than what I had in Monte Carlo, for example. The attitude I wanted to win in Monte Carlo, it’s not something about wanting ir or not wanting it. It’s about momentum. I’m feeling better.

I feel really good to play here. It’s a very special tournament for me, and the energy this tournament gives me is something a little bit different to others.

I’ve been training trying to do things properly, as I’ve been doing always. I hope that it just works out.

 

Q. I don’t know what does Madrid have, but in the past editions nobody managed to win the title again. In your case you could do it this time. You have a third opportunity. Do you think it’s because people normally don’t win twice?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, it’s not because of nothing. To repeat is really difficult in every single place. We’re talking about tournaments we have the top players every single year. It’s obvious when the best players are working. It’s really tough that the same guy wins from year to year.

You look at the history of our sport, it’s something that be doesn’t happen very often in our sport. It’s true the last few years some players have been winning tournaments year after year.

If we look at the history we can see that few players have been able to do this year after year, and that just shows how difficult the sport is in general.

In this case, in tennis, many matches are decided in a small points. Well, sometimes the balls always fall on the side of a guy. It’s something special that has happened several times during the past years.

It’s happened several times for some players, but it’s not very logical. It’s not very logical what happens in the last five, six years that the same players have been playing for the really important tournaments.

This can happen three times, but during so many years it’s something pretty different. I think that these things don’t happen many times during the history.

 

Q. I would like to talk about your defeat in Australia. What did that leave on you? Physically talking because a problem in your back that you couldn’t train for a week, or mentally because of the fact of not being able to win?

RAFAEL NADAL: The defeat in Australia is the past. We don’t have to talk anymore about Australia. It’s gone. We will go back in 2015 to try to be well there again and try to compete well in Australia.

Just another defeat with a problem. That maybe leaves you afterwards a little bit more insecurity to that loss. Because you always have that moment that you’re just dreaming about it and then you have a problem.

But this is sport. You know, the sport is just to accept, to feel done, and wake up again and stand up and try to recover.

You know, when you compete at this level, when you’re playing at the limit, sometimes you crash. You crash against the wall.

All the crashes you get during your career, you just have to survive. You just to have try not to be a mortal kick. I don’t think that’s the case in Australia.

After Australia it’s been a little bit difficult for me to get back in the rhythm for the competition, but also there are some other things over there.

In Australia where I was playing well, after Australia I stop for three weeks, then I played Rio. Even though I win Rio, I didn’t play with really good feelings. I played the tournament, but doesn’t matter. In the middle I have to leave because they have to treat my back, put something on my back, syringes.

That happened in Rio and then I cannot train after 12 days. So, you know, there I was a little bit close. And all of this in general, well you create    you need continuity in order to play well.

In Indian Wells I managed to play well against Dolgopolov. I tried to win that match. These things happen.

We went over it and just have to work on it. You have to start from zero.

In Miami, was that really positive tournament for me.

Afterwards, I lost two matches here in Spain and I think I could have won.

Ferrer was much better than me, especially in the second set. The first set was really close. I think it’s a match that I should have won, but I didn’t.

In this case I have to work for here, for Madrid. That’s what I’ve been doing. I been working since I lost in Barcelona. I tried to train well to come here. If things don’t come out well, we will go to Rome; if things don’t work out there, we will go to Paris.

That’s everything. You have to continue and continue and continue, and think that things are going to work out for you. That’s what I’m going to try to do all of these days.

 

Q. These two defeats, do they create on you more doubts?

RAFAEL NADAL: You know, they create you doubts. That’s what happens in the defeat. That’s why if someone tells you the opposite he is lying to you. The defeats create doubts. Not more be will to play. What creates will to play is that you’re feeling well on the court.

When you come from tough moments like this or injuries or whatever, you don’t manage to be on the positive line, well, you know, you then come back with a little more intensity to try to be back as soon as possible.

I just to have try to be back on that line. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.

 

Q. Are you surprised to see Andy Murray ranked No. 8? And you know what it’s like to recover from injuries. Do you think he’ll be able to come back after his back surgery and get back to the top of the game?

RAFAEL NADAL: You know, the ranking is lying a lot of times. The ranking is not fair a lot of times. Having one year ranking when you get injury for a while, when you lose just a few tournaments or you have some problems and you are not able to play your 100%, it’s very easy to lose ranking.

So it’s not an issue for a player Andy that already won Olympics, Grand Slam, Masters 1000s. The ranking probably is not his priority. It’s to play well and have the chance to win the most important tournaments and feel himself healthy and competitive.

I don’t have any doubt that he’s fighting again for the best tournaments of the world. It’s always natural and normal that after an injury it’s tough to be back on the top of your game very soon.

So for me, it’s not an issue. He’s there. He will be fighting for the best tournaments and he will be in the top positions of the ranking if he wants to be or if he’s able to do.

When you get injury and you have some physical problems and you are not able to play all the tournaments at your 100%, then I repeat: having the ranking just one year on the calendar, you know, it’s not enough to be at the top if you were not able to play all the tournaments at your 100%.

 

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova

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Serena Williams practicing on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday.  And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?

 

Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well.  Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court

This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years.  Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months.  Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022.  But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.  Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters.  Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak.  In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.


Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon.  Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation.  With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday?  She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena.  Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year.  But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena.  This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena.  That’s advantage, Emma.  But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue.  She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles.  Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles.  Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels. 

Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak.  Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul.  Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking.  He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off

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Andy Murray practicing this past week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America.  This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.

 

Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round.  And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.

Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time. 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court

Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup.  Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours.  And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle.  Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery.  Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years.  Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts.  Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring.  Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.


Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak.  However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19.  And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday.  Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses.  At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead.  And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match.  Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets.  Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country?  Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example.  But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose.  Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.

Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago.  Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June.  They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May.  Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row.  Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.

Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events.  Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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