Rafael Nadal: "If" doesn't exist in sport. That's the real thing. If, if, if - never comes. The thing is, you have to do it. I didn't have the chance to play the fourth; I lost the third, so that's it” - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “If” doesn’t exist in sport. That’s the real thing. If, if, if – never comes. The thing is, you have to do it. I didn’t have the chance to play the fourth; I lost the third, so that’s it”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 27th of January 2015. T.Berdych d. R.Nadal 6-2, 6-0, 7-6. An interview with Rafael Nadal

Q. Were you feeling at all unwell or unfit today?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. I am feeling okay. Just was not my day. I didn’t play with the right intensity, with the right rhythm, and the opponent played better than me. In sport, when you are going to play against an opponent, was a day that the opponent played better than me.

Q. Do you think it’s also the fact that you haven’t played such a player for a while, the whole process of coming back?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is probably not the day to talk about that. We talked enough about that before the tournament and almost every day, so is a day that I just can congratulate my opponent, accept that. Is obvious that I needed something more to be more competitive, as I did in the third. The third was the right set, the right game that I have to play. But is obvious that before I didn’t play with the right confidence, with the right intensity, losing court, playing very short. I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarterfinals of Grand Slam helping the opponent to play well. That’s what I did. The first two sets, the beginning — since the beginning of the third, I played with more character, more the way that I have to play to have chances to keep being — to be where I want to be, to be where I have been for the last lot of years. I don’t know how many. So that’s it. Just will keep working hard on the things that I have to do. As I said when I arrived here, the process always is not easy. When you have injuries, are difficult the comebacks. There are so many examples around the world of sport that have been tough to be back. For me, I’m not an exception on that, no? I have to take the positive things. Without being at my top level of tennis I was able to be here in quarterfinals. Is not a bad result at all for me arriving here the way I arrived: only with one match, only with five matches in seven months. So taking the positive part, that’s the thing that I have to take. That’s just the beginning of the season, and I want to keep having chances to compete well against everybody. I need to keep working the way that I am doing for be ready for the next. The season is long, I know. Beginnings are tough. I need to be ready to accept all the situations that’s going to happen or happened and try to be strong, accepting everything, and working hard to be back the way that I want to be. When I say ‘be back,’ I don’t mean win or lose, I mean have the feeling on court that when you are there you feel confident, you feel you can compete against everybody with equal conditions.

Q. We will never know, but do you think if you had won that third set it could have changed everything, or were you still feeling that Tomas had a little bit the upper hand?

RAFAEL NADAL: “If” doesn’t exist in sport. That’s the real thing. If, if, if – never comes. The thing is, you have to do it. I didn’t have the chance to play the fourth; I lost the third, so that’s it. That’s sport. I lost the third. He’s happier than me in the locker room. I am not very happy because I didn’t competed the way I wanted to competed the first two sets and that’s something that I don’t like. But I tried my best again in the third. I was closer. I had some chances with the 4-All, some breakpoints. The tiebreak I was there fighting even that the situation was tough. But he played aggressive. The tiebreak, he served well. Two sets to love advantage makes the opponent play with more calm than if he is one set to love or one set all. That’s a big difference.

Q. The TV showed you taking a pill at some stage early in the third.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, happened nothing. I am feeling well. That’s it. That’s part of the things that happen sometimes during the matches, but nothing important to say.

Q. Was there anything particularly about Tomas’ game today that you found difficult to deal with?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, it’s always that he serve very well. He played aggressive. But I say before, no, in the third, yes, I was able to maintain the rhythm of the ball, to try to put one more ball inside. If I’m able to do that for two hours and a half, three hours, then he can feel the pressure, he can feel more tired when he’s going for the shots. But the real thing, I tested him for one hour, for a set. For the rest of the thing I didn’t test him in general. As I said before, Tomas is ranked No. 5, No. 6 of the word, No. 7, I don’t know. He’s a top player. We cannot expect the things that — all the challenges that he put me on court today because he’s a top player. You have to play well to win against a player like Tomas. I didn’t play my best today. He played better than me and that’s it. That’s the sport. Sometimes, almost every time, is simple: the player who plays better, the player who is able to maintain the better rhythm, the better concentration, play with less mistakes, is the player who has more success. And today this player has been Tomas.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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