Roland Garros: Rafa still tennis' most dominant player - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros: Rafa still tennis' most dominant player

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TENNIS ROLAND GARROS – Yes, he may win Wimbledon again, too! The main obstacles at Wimbledon are the same ones Rafa Nadal faced at Roland Garros. Denying Novak Djokovic another Grand Slam title, and a back that seems determined to prevent Nadal from surpassing the great Roger Federer. It still may halt Rafa’s assault on immortality.By James Beck

 

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

Yes, he may win Wimbledon again, too!

The main obstacles at Wimbledon are the same ones Rafa Nadal faced at Roland Garros. Denying Novak Djokovic another Grand Slam title, and a back that seems determined to prevent Nadal from surpassing the great Roger Federer.

It still may halt Rafa’s assault on immortality. A bad back doesn’t go just away with another French Open title, even a ninth.

The potential back ailment — or cramps as the apparent problem Sunday — will be there when Rafa heads to Wimbledon, the same as in Australia when back problems probably cost him another Grand Slam title. But if he can fight as hard and as well as he did when he saw the finish line in Paris, his chances at winning Wimbledon look pretty good.

In fact, his chances are much better than they were six years ago when he did the unthinkable by going to London as a noted clay-courter and coming away with the first of his two Wimbledon championships.

 

French Open Wasn’t Very Pretty

This French Open final wasn’t a pretty one. Nadal played a mediocre first set, and Djokovic didn’t play much better.

After six lackluster and cautious games, Nadal decided to turn his huge, inside-out, cross-court forehand loose in the seventh game apparently without taking into consideration that new balls had been put into play. He missed the court with what may be a record three of his go-to shots in that game alone to fall behind 5-3.

Djokovic was glad to get the freebie, but Nadal harnessed his game, and for most of the last three sets was in charge of the court until he tossed in a service break while holding a 4-2 lead in the third set. Then there came the doublefault by Djokovic to give Nadal a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Simply put, Nadal played well enough to win. That alone showed his unsurpassed supremacy of the red clay of Roland Garros.

 

Pressure On Djokovic May Have Played A Role

The fact Djokovic played under great pressure while trying to join the career Grand Slam circle that includes Nadal and Roger Federer had to play a role. At times, it looked as if Djokovic would follow David Ferrer’s example and simply give up.

Nadal wouldn’t let his fierce rival think about tossing in the towel. Nadal’s own inconsistent play and physical limitations kept leaving openings for Djokovic. The openings were there, and Djokovic took advantage of some of them, but each time Nadal closed the door just as it appeared the match might become another of the epic encounters between the two greats.

With 14 Grand Slam titles, Nadal trails Federer by three. If Nadal could win another one in London, his chances of catching Federer would soar. Turning 28 years old just last week, you’ve got to think the Spanish left-hander has at least two more French Open titles in him. Ferrer, perhaps Nadal’s strongest rival at Roland Garros, is an ancient 32 years old.

 

Novak May Need A Little Boost

Djokovic has to be a little down after what happened Sunday at Roland Garros. Just how much that affects his play at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open is impossible to measure. He’s 27 years old, and Grand Slam titles suddenly are getting much more difficult to win.

The Serbian “wonderstick” hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since the 2013 Australian Open, yet he’s been in three of the five finals.

 

Rafa Has Won Three Of Last Five Major Finals

Of course, Djokovic’s success of late doesn’t come close to what Rafa has accomplished in the same time period since returning to the tour.

Other than a couple bumps along the way — a first-round loss to Steve Darcis in 2013 Wimbledon and the back problems in this year’s Australian Open — Nadal easily has been the most dominant player in the men’s game over the last five Grand Slam tournaments. Or since Rafa returned to the game after missing the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Australian Open with injuries.

Nadal not only has played in four of the last five major finals, he’s won three of them.

 

Six Finals In Last Eight Tries

To go even farther back, Nadal has won four of the last eight Grand Slam tournaments he’s played, while making the final six of the eight times. He easily could have won two more Australian Open finals in that time, barring one barely wide short put-away backhand passing shot against Djokovic in 2012 and the back problems against Stan Wawrinka this year.

So, don’t count Nadal out of winning at least one more Grand Slam title in 2014.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at:

http://www.postandcourier.com/section/PC200903

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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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