TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 1st of July. N. Kyrgios d. R. Nadal 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3. An interview with Rafael Nadal
Q. What are your thoughts on how Nick was able to beat you today?
RAFAEL NADAL: The thing is this surface, when you have an opponent that he decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble.
I think that I didn’t play really bad. But that’s the game in this surface.
I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert that opportunities. And for the rest, I think he play better than me.
So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me.
Q. He’s No. 144 in the world and only 19 years old. What do you think of his future as a pro tennis player?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I didn’t see him playing in other surfaces. Grass only three, four tournaments per year. But is obvious when you have a player that is able to serve that big, always advantage is so high.
Q. Before you came to Wimbledon you weren’t sure what your expectations of yourself were on grass. You fought through the first three rounds and fell in the fourth. How do you feel about what you did here in Wimbledon? Did you exceed your expectations at all?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I am satisfied the way that I played this Wimbledon. Is true that my draw was not the best one. All the matches were uncomfortable against players that didn’t give you the opportunity to play a lot.
I fighted until the end in every single match. I was able to play some good tennis on this surface. That’s something that I was not able to do in the last two years.
But that’s the tennis. That’s the sport in this surface. I felt in a way I am even not angry today because I feel that I lost the match losing only one time my serve during the whole match. I created my opportunities.
But I was not able to read his serve during the whole match. At the end on grass, the resume is that. I was not able to read his serve. I was not able to put enough returns inside. We had one break each.
In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me. So that’s an advantage. I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5 All in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.
You know, that’s happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114 5 All in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.
Congratulations to him. For me, beach (smiling). For me, I going to go to the beach in Mallorca.
Q. I know the disappointment is great, but how different a defeat is that to the previous two years, and how much better do you feel about yourself today than you did last year or after Rosol?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every year is different, no? Especially when you come from playing very bad here and you think you play better, the feelings is better. But I did not want to lose today. That’s obviously.
That’s fine. I try my best, as always I do when my physical performance give me the chance to try my best. Last two years I didn’t have that chance to try my best because my knee was not right to compete here.
But this year I felt the knee was right to compete here. I competed. I think I competed well. Was not enough today, but that’s it. That’s the sport. Opponent better than me. Life continues. I going to go to Mallorca, have some weeks off with the great weather there, enjoying with the family, with the friends some holidays.
It’s the only part of the year that I have holidays, and the right ones because the weather is great. After a few weeks I going to start practice again to prepare another important part of the season for me that will be in America.
Q. Earlier you said that tennis is very mental. It’s easy to play with nothing to lose. Could you talk about what it’s like for you to have your great run at the French Open and then to come here, be No. 1, past champion, what pressures do you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t play with lot of pressure. I won in the French. I am having a great season. I am playing well.
But I repeat. The surface here is dangerous and my draw was not easy. I played against a player that was not easy no one round. Today was not the right opponent again. He decided to serve so big and play so aggressive from the baseline.
During the whole match I had some chances. Not in the first set, but after the first set yes. Even in the fourth, first game, Love-30, two aces, two lines. That was it. I was not able to read the serve. I tried. Nothing bad.
Q. Given his age and experience, were you expecting him to crack at some stage? How surprised were you that he didn’t?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s 19. When he has 20? Next year or this year?
Q. Next year.
RAFAEL NADAL: In the end, with 19 I was here already playing these kind of tournaments and competing well. Is now that the thing is very strange that the young players are coming so late.
19 years old is a perfect age to be on the tour and to play well. That’s what happened with all the great players in the past. Is nothing new.
When I was young, I was looking about the players that were great players, the top players, Lleyton, Roger, Ferrero, Moya, a lot of ones, Becker. They are there with this age. Is something that I always thought I had to be there at that age. With 19, I always thought I had to be with the tour if I want to be a professional tennis player.
For me age is not an issue over that.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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