Rafael Nadal: “Normally I am a good first-set player. He played fantastic” - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “Normally I am a good first-set player. He played fantastic”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 28th of June. R. Nadal d. M. Kukushkin 6-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. An interview with Rafael Nadal

Q. Is there anything about the first sets in general that are particularly difficult for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. Normally I am a good first-set player. I think my opponent played great the first set today and I think I was playing fine. He played fantastic. The only thing that I did not good in the first set was some returns with the second serve that I make a few mistakes with his second serve.

And then in the tiebreak I didn’t serve well, didn’t serve enough well. Then I give him the opportunity to attack me with the second serve, my second serve. He did well. He was playing great.

Accept that the match is long. Accept that if he is able to play like this for three sets I will be in trouble. But always waiting that I can improve one step. If I improve one step, I can be there. I think I did.

 

Q. You told us many times that you much prefer playing tennis with the sun on your back. You’re not a big fan of playing indoors. Would I be right in thinking the match with Rosol two years ago was the only other time you played under the roof?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. When I played the first set, I said that maybe the roof here in Wimbledon is not good for me (laughter).

No, it doesn’t matter.

 

Q. Does it change the conditions for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: A little bit always, no? When you play with some wind, when you play outdoor, the court is a little bit more dry. When you play indoors, humid days, the court is a little bit more slippery. That makes the match a little bit different.

In general is true that the roof is great because there is lot of light coming, so your feeling is not that you are closed, completely closed, like an indoor tournament. I think that’s better for us.

But for me, talking about my personal opinion, is better because I don’t like to be in closed places only with lights, you know.

I think I played a great match. Didn’t affect me a lot, but…

 

Q. If Nick Kyrgios gets through, he’ll be your next opponent. This will be a pretty big story in Australia. What do you know about him and what would you expect about playing him in the fourth round potentially?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I saw him play in Australia this year. I remember that match against Paire.

He’s a young player, always there. Young players are very dangerous as always the young players have something special. They are able to play with no pressure. They are fresh.

Is good to have new players on tour. That’s real. He has a great serve. He’s aggressive player. I saw him few times. Not 50 times like other players. So I cannot talk too much.

 

Q. There’s a lot of rain today. A lot of matches not being played. How important is it for you that you did get to play, that you’re finished, that you’re through into the next round when maybe your opponent and other players won’t be?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, always is positive that. In one way is very positive to have that work already done. In another point, I don’t know how Wimbledon going to react after a day like today, if they are not able to play more matches because tomorrow is Sunday and the tradition is here nobody plays on Sunday.

But is true that, for example, if my opponents are not playing tomorrow, they are playing on Monday, I will be playing on Tuesday, and the winner will be playing again on Wednesday. That’s not good. That’s not a positive thing.

In one way is positive that I already done. For sure my opponents are in a worse position. But again, cannot be perfect.

 

Q. On a bit of a side note, Wimbledon have installed a gate into the players box in Centre Court to stop people from climbing over the roof. In 2008 you did that. Do you think it’s disappointing we might lose an unofficial Wimbledon tradition?

RAFAEL NADAL: The winner cannot go anymore there?

 

Q. They’re going to try to stop them. They have to go up and around and through the gate. After Pat Cash did it in 1978, it’s almost an unofficial tradition.

RAFAEL NADAL: This is I first knew about that. I saw Andy there last year. I did the first time that I won, 2008. Maybe they be able to put a lot of security there, they can stop the winner, no?

 

Q. Do you think they should be allowed to do that then?

RAFAEL NADAL: Doesn’t matter. If they don’t go there, they going to go to another place. That’s fine.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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