Rafael Nadal: “I changed completely the position on the return. I was returning very close to the baseline” - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “I changed completely the position on the return. I was returning very close to the baseline”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 25th of January 2015. R.Nadal d. K.Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. An interview with Rafael Nadal

 

Q. It seems like after 5-All you had no problems anymore.

RAFAEL NADAL: Problems? There is always. There is always some key points of the match that change the dynamic of the match. Is true that I was lucky in the first set to have the set with me because was very dangerous. I think Kevin was playing very aggressive from the beginning, going for the winners every shot. He had the breakpoint before in the 3-2 or 3-All, I think. Then with the 5-All I was lucky, sure. I played two forehands down the line, because was not an easy forehand because he pushed me. I changed the direction, but I can miss that shot, no? Then a few good serves, but especially the ace again. Yeah, but in general, even if he had that chances in the first set, even in the first set seem that he was having more chances than me, I was playing better than the days before, no? I felt myself with better rhythm in the legs, better rhythm with my forehand. So in general, I am very happy the way I played today. The way that I improved my level is not the most important thing; obviously the victory is.

Q. Until the game that you broke him in the first set, you had only won one point on his serve. Was it a matter of you figuring out the serve, or did his level of serving drop?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know if you saw that, but I changed completely the position on the return. I was returning very close to the baseline. Is easier to start more aggressive and make the transition aggressive to defensive than defensive to aggressive. So is something that I talk before the match, and we decided to go close to the baseline in the beginning. Then if was not working, try to play more points. I had that feeling that I need to make him feel that he needs to play a winner to win the point, no? Because before my feeling was he was winning too many points only with the serve. So I tried to change that at the end of the first set. I was able to have some good returns. One very good one, but then the other ones, just put the ball inside the court and then try to let him think a little bit more than what he was doing until that moment. That’s what changed the dynamic of the games on the return. Very favorable way for me.

Q. Tell us how you get out of these difficult positions. What is going through your mind in those moments?

RAFAEL NADAL: I try to think point by point. I know with Love-40, losing that games with the first set and losing the first set against a player, a very good player like Kevin, he has big serve, and then he’s able to play good from the baseline, pushing you from the first ball. So I know that I going to play with lot of pressure during the rest of the match if I want to have chances to win. And I fought point by point. I just tried to change a little bit the way I was serving. I served a little bit more aggressive. It’s true that I had two forehands down the line, as I said before, that can miss. But for the rest, I had two good — Love-40 was that forehand down the line, but then in the 15- 40 and the 30-40, two good serves to the body. Something that I was not serving very often since that moment, so I changed that. Then breakpoint I changed the direction and serve probably the fastest serve for me this tournament, 205 ace in the middle, no? So just try to play with the right decision, right determination, and I did. Worked well. But sometimes works well, sometimes isn’t.

Q. A lot of other players get tight in these moments. You don’t seem to get so tight, so worried.

RAFAEL NADAL: I am (smiling).

Q. You said a week ago before the tournament that you didn’t consider yourself one of the favorites to win it, but ask you in a week if you’re still here. You’re still here. How do you feel about your chances to go further now with four wins under your belt?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am one of the eight. That’s the most important thing, no? I am in the last eight of the tournament. Seriously, for me, I cannot talk about that. I never talked during my career about that. But especially in this moment when you are coming back after a period of time where you were not on competition and you’re going to play a very tough player like Tomas Berdych that he started the season great playing very well in Doha, and now he’s here in quarterfinals. I don’t know if he lost a set. I don’t think so. He’s playing great. Will be a very tough opponent, no? But for me quarterfinals is a great result, talking seriously. Arriving here, losing in the first round of Qatar, not playing matches for the last seven months, to have the chance to be in quarterfinals again here is a very positive thing for me. I’m very happy for that. I am sure that going to help me for the next events. For sure I going to try my best after tomorrow. I am not a person that I am happy like this and that’s it. No. I try to play better and better every day. If that happens, I hope to keep having chances for the next match. But today is a day to be happy the way that I improved my level of everything, talking about tennis, all the things I have to do on court. I was closer today. Even if I played the first two sets the other day well, today I was much closer what I have to do to try to have success.

Q. How far do you feel you are from your best shape? 60%? 70%?

RAFAEL NADAL: That’s not mathematics. You cannot say number. Doesn’t matter at the end. I am in quarterfinals. I am feeling better every day. You don’t know. Today I was at very, very high level winning against Kevin Anderson. I don’t know which ranking he has.

Q. 15.

RAFAEL NADAL: Winning against the No. 15 of the world in straight sets, would be very arrogant if I say I’m not a very high percentage. Happy the way I played today. Is the first day that I felt that I was playing at the level that I want to play and the way that I want to play. Let’s have a chance to practice tomorrow, keep doing well the things I did today, and then try to arrive for the next match with the highest energy possible and try to be ready for it. I know it’s going to be very tough.

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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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