Rafael Nadal's journey comes to an unexpected early end at the US Open - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal’s journey comes to an unexpected early end at the US Open

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The warning signs were there in his secound round encounter against Diego Schwartzman. Nadal had prevailed but his tennis was anything but convincing and he didn’t look like a man capable of taking on the biggest names in New York this week.

 

For the third time this season, Fogning found the key to overcoming Nadal but this time round it came in the most unexpected fashion: Nadal was two sets up to the good and 3-1 in the third. Somehow though the script was far from written as Fognini rallied back to win 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Until halfway through the third set Nadal was showing some of his best tennis, with strong groundstrokes and an effective serve. The latter and his backhand being a good thermometer to gauge just how confident the Majorcan is with his play. After then though the two-time US Open champion was again hindered by a worrying inconsistency which has burdened his tennis all year long and lost a two set lead for a first time in his career.

Talking of inconsistency, on the other side of the net was Fabio Fognini, who is known for throwing in the towel when the going gets tough but, for some reason, playing the Spaniard has brought out the best of the Italian who has also suffered a somewhat erratic campaign. Fognini started taking the ball on early and returning Nadal’s serve deep, which was making life increasingly difficult for him.

As the match headed into the fifth set, few could predict that a man of Nadal’s tenacity was going to let a two set lead escape. The final set was a nail-biting experience, with seven consecutive breaks of serve in what was a rollercoaster of emotions. Fognini stepped up to the baseline at 5-4 serving for the match. Would he buckle under the pressure or would he keep his composure to serve out the biggest win of his career? The Italian didn’t faulter, silencing many critics who have questioned his mental strength and thereby putting an end to Nadal’s quest, making it the first time in ten years that the Spaniard doesn’t win a grand slam in a season.

Nadal walked off the court with his head down after what has to be one of the toughest defeats of his career given how it unravelled and also how it represents yet another set back in his comeback. Once a champion, always a champion, Nadal admitted after the clash that he will “work passionately to improve”.

The whole of tennis world hopes to see him soon where he belongs, back at the very top, for he took this sport into another dimension and for that alone, he deserves the credit and benefit of the doubt until the day he hangs up

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts against Fabio Fognini of Italy on Day Five of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 571780395 ORIG FILE ID: 486673052

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 04: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts against Fabio Fognini of Italy on Day Five of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 571780395 ORIG FILE ID: 486673052

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‘He Needs To Bulk Up’ – Tennis Great Cast Doubt On Alex De Minaur’s French Open Chances

John Newcombe believes it will be a few more years before the world No.27 reaches his peak.

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One of Australia’s most decorated Grand Slam champions of all time believes compatriot Alex de Minaur still has a way to go before he poses a threat at the French Open.

 

Former world No.1 John Newcombe believes the 21-year-old needs to improve on his physicality before reaching his peak on the surface. De Minaur comes into the Grand Slam high in confidence after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open in what was his best performance at a major so far in his career. He was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

Although De Minaur’s preparations for the clay took a blow last week after he lost the first round of the Italian Open to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. The world No.27 had a set and 3-0 lead over Koepfer before losing. He is not playing in any tournament this week leading up to Roland Garros.

“I’d have to see the draw, how it comes out, but it will be hard work for him,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press about de Minaur’s chances in Paris.
“He’s going to have to do a hell of a lot of work. If he got to the quarters, it would be a terrific effort.
“He’s not going to be physically where he needs to be, just bulking up a bit, until he’s 25, 26.
“But he’s got a good all-court game and he understands the game well, so there’s no reason he can’t be a pretty good late maturer (on clay).”

This year’s clay-court major will be the fourth time the Australian has played in the main draw. In his three previous appearances, de Minaur has only won one match which was against Bradley Klahn last year.

During a recent interview with atptour.com, the Next Gen star gave little away about his expectations for the clay this year given the revised schedule. The French Open is taking place just two weeks after New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the sport to a five-month standstill earlier this year.

“Realistically, you never know until you step out and play matches. It’s a very quick turnaround, something that has never happened to play such an important event after a slam. I’m taking it all in, doing as best as I can and we will have to see,” he said.

De Minaur has won three ATP titles and has scored four wins over top 10 players so far in his career. He is currently the only player from his country ranked in the world’s top 40 on the ATP Tour.

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Novak Djokovic claims his 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome

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Novak Djokovic came back from 0-3 down in the first set to beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 53 minutes in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Djokovic claimed his fifth title in the Eternal City and his 36th Masters 1000 trophy and his 81st career title. Djokovic has become the oldest Rome champion. 

 

The World number 1 player extended his record in 2020 to an impressive record of 31 wins in 32 matches, including four titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome. 

Djokovic dropped his serve three times and earned five breaks of serve. 

Djokovic wasted a game point and dropped his serve, when he netted his backhand. Schwartzman hit four service winners in the second game to consolidate the break for 2-0. 

Djokovic made a backhand error to face a break point in the third game. Schwartzman earned his second break to open up a 3-0 after 18 minutes, as Djokovic netted another backhand.  Djokovic earned a break point chance and conveted it after a double fault from Schwartzman. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 with an ace in the fifth game to claw his way back to 2-3. The Serbian star forced an error from Schwarzman to earn a breka point in the sixth game and got the break, when the Argentine netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve at 15 to take a 4-3 in the seventh game. Schwartzman hit a forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the eighth game and held serve with a service winner to draw level to 4-4. 

Djokovic saved a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Schwartzman saved a set point with a forehand winner and drew level to 5-5 after two deuces with a backhand the line winner. 

Djokovic held serve after a deuce to take a 6-5 lead forcing Schwartzman to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Djokovic converted his third set point to win the opening set 7-5 after 70 minutes. 

Schwartzman earned an early break at the start of the second set. Djokovic got the break back to draw level to 1-1 when Schwartzman sent a forehand wide. 

Djokovic hit a winner at the net to hold serve in the third game. Schwartzman hit four winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.

Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth game and held serve with a service winner to take a 3-2 lead. Schwartman held serve with a drop shot. Djokovic won his service game at love to take a 4-3 lead and broke serve at love in the eighth game with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic held serve at love to close out the final. 

“”It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday and in every match. That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed. Turning to Paris, I could not ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and i super pleased with it”, said Djokovic. 

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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