Nadal reigns supreme at the French Open with his 9th Title - UBITENNIS
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Nadal reigns supreme at the French Open with his 9th Title

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TENNIS FRENCH OPEN – In the final of the 2014 Roland Garros Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 to win his 9th title in Paris and his 14th career Major. Nadal proved once again, that he is the French Open. There is very little else one can say about him and this tournament. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

At the start of the 2014 French Open, there was a question that was being asked which has rarely been asked for nearly a decade, “Would Rafael Nadal (1) defend his French Open title?” It might be more apropos to say defending his property as opposed to his title. True that in 2009 Nadal lost to Robin Soderling. Yet, statisticians will say that that was an anomaly; a “freak occurrence.” That loss does not change the undeniable truth of Nadal being the greatest of all players of all time on clay. He is simply supreme on the surface. One might even go as far as to say he is virtually unplayable on the Parisian courts. Back in 2011, that question floated about and it looked like Novak Djokovic (2) had solved the “clay conundrum” that is Nadal. However, Roger Federer stopped that meeting and Federer was the one who got to the final and lost yet again to Nadal. Since then, Nadal and Djokovic have met in the French Open and each time, Nadal has come out the victor. This year would be no different as for the three straight year, Nadal has beaten Djokovic on his way to the French title; his 5th time in a row and his 9th overall title; 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4.

Overall, it would be hard to say whether Djokovic actually gave it everything in this match. However in the 1st set, it would difficult to say he did not. Djokovic served first in the match and fended off early break points during the 7th game to quickly give himself two break chances in the 8th game for the 5-3 lead. Nadal was able to save those two initial break points on his serve for deuce but his usually formidable forehand went errant on the 3rd one and Djokovic was serving for the set. Djokovic with the momentum squarely in his half of the court soon found himself down love-30 and then down two break points to get back on serve. However, the Nadal forehand proved to be unreliable in the early stages of the match and Djokovic won the set 6-3 when yet another forehand from Nadal went long.

Nadal was not about to let him reign here in Paris go unchallenged. He broke Djokovic in the 6th game to lead 4-2. Djokovic broke back immediately and remained on serve for 6-5 when he was serving to force the set to a tiebreaker. Nadal wanting to avoid the breaker and he put his foot down and demanded that this 12th game be his. He matched pace with Djokovic and showed him the true extent of his clay court prowess and soon he had double set points. Djokovic became erratic when he most needed to be perfect and so Nadal took the 2nd set 7-5. This equalizing set was all that the Spaniard needed to really turn up the intensity. His reaction to taking it almost matched that of winning the title. Nadal himself would later say, “We can talk about strategy, we can talk about tactics, and when you look at the score, the fact of winning the second set for me was something very important.”

Nadal then went into this “unplayable” mood where Djokovic simply did not have an answer. Nadal raced out to a 3-0 lead before Djokovic got on the scoreboard in the 3rd set. Djokovic looked poised to get things back on serve as he had a break point in the 5th game but again, he was unable to combat his opponent’s offensive and defensive skills. The style of play that saw Djokovic winning the rallies in the 1st set, was no longer working and Djokovic remained perplexed as to what to do. Nadal made the impossible shots possible and everything was working for him. Djokovic could only say later on, He was a better player in the crucial moments.” Nadal held serve and stretched his lead to 5-2. Djokovic served to stay in the set and again, he was broken. Nadal was now up two sets to one. Meanwhile, Djokovic was left looking as though he was unsure as to whether he was playing a man or a machine. Nadal was just that good on the big points and nothing was working against him.

There was no question that Nadal was going to take the match at this point. Djokovic looked physically unwell and at one point was even slightly sick on court. However, Nadal remained relentless in his pursuit for tennis glory. He broke Djokovic in the 6th game for a 4-2 lead. Djokovic broke back and levelled it 4-4. Nadal stayed ahead at 5-4 and forced Djokovic to serve to stay in the match. It was almost like watching their last two matches here at the French Open all over again particularly the 2012 final, Djokovic looked “done and dusted.” He pushed his forehand long to set up match point for Nadal and then double faulted to end the match. In all three sets that Nadal won, he never once served to close it out; he broke Djokovic every time. Djokovic summed of his performance in the match by saying, “I lost that service game 65, and then the momentums went his side. I started…playing quite bad…and didn’t move as well. Struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set…I wasn’t playing at the level that I wanted, especially in the second part of the match.”

Nadal proved once again, that he is the French Open. There is very little else one can say about him and this tournament. 9 titles, 5 in a row, 66-1 here in Paris, 14 major titles overall (tied for 2nd with Pete Sampras on the all-time list). Nadal beats his opponents both physically and mentally. Even that rare defeat back in 2009 to Soderling, the next year in 2010, Nadal had his revenge as be beat Soderling in the final in straight sets for his 5th title. “I knew that I had lost four times against Novak, so this win was very important to me. I had enough courage. I made the right decisions at the right moment.”

Djokovic had his chances to have at least taken it to a 5th set or even more so, made the scoreline more interesting. In the end though, Nadal did everything slightly better particularly on break point conversion and second serve points one: Nadal was 6/10 on break points and won 50% of 2nd serve whereas Djokovic was 3/9 and 36% on 2nd serve) Though they both had an excellent serving day, these noted differences proved to be the key factors of the match. On the other hand, Nadal feels that it more than his good tennis at play today. “Mentally I was so strong. I really wanted to defeat him. I don’t really know how to describe these things, but I managed to stick to it. I suffered quite a lot, but I found solutions. When there were problems cropping, I managed to find the solutions when the moments were very difficult with a number of shots which were quite tricky from the tennis point of view. I succeeded. I managed to win the match and the tournament.” Nadal has not only managed to win this tournament, one can say he really and truly owns it.

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The Trial Has Ended: David Ferrer Is Now A Head Coach Of Alexander Zverev

The former French Open finalist is set to become a regular face on the men’s Tour once again but in a differnt capacity.

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By Emil Evtimov

David Ferrer is the new head coach of Alexander Zverev alongside his father Alexander Sr. The news was revealed by the world No.7 after his win against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

 

In the beginning of July Zverev announced that he and Ferrer will work together on a trial basis for two weeks in Monte Carlo. Now the German confirmed that the former world No.3 and Roland Garros finalist will be on his side as a coach at least until the end of the year. 

“The trial period is over. We are together. We understand each other great and now we are a team,” said Zverev.

Ferrer won’t be the first prominent name in team Zverev. Previously the three-time Masters 1000 champion worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. Since the end of his relationship with Lendl, Zverev has been trained mainly by his dad.

“David and my father are both my head coaches now. My dad doesn’t get any younger. Both are extremely important for the team.”

For Ferrer this will be the first coaching experience. His playing career ended in May 2019 during the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid with his last opponent on the court being none other than Zverev.

For quite a long time Zverev was considered the big star from the young generation but in 2019 was a bit overshadowed by players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and  Daniil Medvedev.

The German began 2020 with a great performance at the Australian Open reaching the semifinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Zverev is on the entry list for the first tournament after the pandemic – the Western & Southern Open which will be staged in New York to create a “protective bubble” for the US Open. The 23-year old talks also about the Grand Slam tournament, saying he would prefer it not to happen, although he is going to play at this point.

“It is a bit crazy to play the US Open now. I would prefer if it would not happen and we just restart in Europe. Because of the pandemic it is not the right time to fly. But when they host the open – what shall we played do? Especially when everyone plays’ it is about ranking points, too. At this point I didn’t think about withdrawing. If everyone reacts within hygiene rules and it will be similar to the NBA bubble it could work out.”

Zverev was one of the tennis players most criticized for his behaviour during the pandemic. The reason was his participation in the Adria Tour where he and his colleagues weren’t following the social distancing rules very strictly. The German gave a negative test for COVID-19 after finding out about the positive test of Grigor Dimitrov. He promised to be in quarantine for safety reasons but was seen partying a few days after. This caused a criticism from Nick Kyrgios, as well as a Twitter war between the Australian and German legend Boris Becker.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas opens up: “I Wasn’t Sure If I Was Good Enough”

Stefanos Tsitsipas reflects on how hard it was in the beginning of his pro career.

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BY EMIL EVTIMOV

 

In the latest instalment of “Behind the Racquet” world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas has shed light on the personal struggles he encountered whilst breaking into the sport.

Tsitsipas had a great 2019 season, climbing from N.15 to N.6 at the end of the year after winning the Nitto ATP Finals, as well as two ATP 250 tournaments in Estoril and Marseille. He also reached the final of the Madrid Open.

However, life wasn’t always so easy for the charming Greek. In his “Behind the Racquet” post, he recalls the times when he was playing Futures while doubting that he was good enough to play professional tennis. He admitted he was feeling “very lonely” and not having many friends on the ATP tour.

Here is the Tsitsipas story in the “Behind the Racquet”:

“In 2018, I broke into the Top 15 and was seeded in Grand Slams. That’s when I understood my potential. In the beginning, I traveled with only my dad. Now, I travel with my dad, mom, and three siblings. I’m the main source of income for my family. 

I have hobbies that keep me interested in different aspects of life. These activities keep me creative and are reflected in my tennis game and presence on court. Sometimes, I post things on my social media that not many people understand. These posts express my inner creativity. I’m just trying to be different from the rest. I put Stefanos’ twist on life. I am philosophical, I come from a country with a history of philosophy and I don’t know if I was Pythagoras or Socrates in my previous life, but I wouldn’t mind being either one. 

There was a time when I wasn’t doing well. I started to play futures and was doubting myself. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to play professional tennis. My country was going through hard times. Greece was on the verge of bankruptcy. The entire population was suffering. My father’s siblings were unemployed and couldn’t feed their families. People looked at me like I was the one ruling the country and they thought I was part of the problem. 

I felt isolated. I wasn’t home to see what was going on because I was traveling. I needed support. My mental coach shared his wisdom and inspired me. Then I said to myself, ‘You’ve dedicated your entire life to tennis, you can’t just give up. You’ve got to keep going.’ I play tennis to prove that my country has a great history and can achieve success. Tennis is a very introverted sport and we face everything alone. We have a team that follows us all over the world but I have spent countless sleepless nights on my own. All the traveling and competing causes a lot of stress and I grew very lonely.

I was an introverted child and I didn’t have many friends. When I first started playing on tour, I thought I would develop friendships but it turned out to be the opposite. Most players keep to themselves. I feel like players don’t want to become friends because they think someone will grab a secret from you to beat you. I guess they’re just too serious about the whole thing. Friends would make traveling less lonely.”

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Roger Federer enjoys calm year ahead of the 2021 season

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is happy to enjoy a calm year ahead of the 2021 season. The Swiss legend admitted in an interview to Sportpanorama on the Swiss channel SRF 2 that he has not started his preparation for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he will be bidding to his first Olympic singles gold medal. 

 

Federer started the 2020 season with a semifinal at the Australian Open. He saved seven match points in his five-set quarter final against Tennys Sandgren before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. Last February he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee injury and ended the 2020 season to give time to his body to recover. 

“I have not started mental preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. When you have been on the tour for 20 years, you are happy to have a more calm year. We have so many matches and competitions that whenever you take a break you know that someone else is winning in that time. That’s why it is extremely difficult to say. I take a break. Everyone is now forced to have a break and I think that 90% of the players are thinking: fortunately I can have a break. Tennis is constant and nonstop. You could not really prepare for Tokyo as there would have been 20 tournaments before. They are also very important, even though maybe not as important as the Olympics, which have another significance. We have many big events. That’s why the preparation just starts three months in before. You have the block in tennis with French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Games. It depends on which surface it is even though in tennis it’s classic on hardcourt in Tokyo. Everyone can play on hardcourt, but you have to specially prepare for clay and grass”, said Federer. 

Federer has enjoyed spending time with his family in the past few months. 

“For the first time in twenty years I have been at one place for five and six years. Of course I enjoy it. We have been incredibly careful and have not seen my parents and friends. We took everything serious which is the right way as it’s not been over yet. That’s why I did not do any interviews and keep distance in everything I do. That’s very important for us. When you are having an injury you can’t do much anyway and have more calm moments at home. You don’t have the stress of the next competition and match, you don’t have nerves, you don’t have the strain from travelling and having a jet-leg, you are not tired. You can enjoy your family life way more”. 

Federer hopes that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place in 2021. The Swiss Maestro will be bidding to win his first olympic singles gold medal after the title he won with Stan Wawrinka in the doubles tournament in Beijing 2008. 

“Unfortunately I was injured in Rio and now the Games were postponed, I had the feeling I always took a lot with me away from the Olympic Games. First to be part of it, then with the goal to get a medal, maybe even a Gold one. That’s a completely differerent situation how you enjoyed the Olympic Games. I am curious how Tokyo will be. I hope it will take place. We are one year away but there are voices who say: maybe it’s too early until we have everything under control. I am hopeful all will be good. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that in our position is a goal, otherwise you wonder why you even go there in the first place. I think something is possible. Whether this will be in singles, doubles or mixed. I don’t know yet what I am going to play. I think I would have a chance in singles. At a tournament everything is possible. It’s another story over a whole season but at one tournament many things are possible. At the situation I am in right now i have to honestly say that I would be glad to participate. When I am 100% fit I would be happy to get a medal. When I won’t have one, I would be disappointed but I know that I gave everything and I can look proudly. Tokyo has been great. It was another experience and I could participate at another Olympic Games. My family will be with me just like in London. It’s already a success for me when I am at 100% and can participate, but a medal should be the goal”, said Federer. 

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