Rafa Nadal wins a hard-fought semifinal against Richard Gasquet in Basel - UBITENNIS
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Rafa Nadal wins a hard-fought semifinal against Richard Gasquet in Basel

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Rafa Nadal has become the first Spanish player to reach the final at the Swiss Indoor Open in Basel after a hard-fought win against Frenchman Richard Gasquet with 6-4 7-6 (9-7). Gasquet went up a break at the start of both sets but made two double faults as he was serving for the set at 5-4. Nadal, who is taking part in the Swiss Indoor Open for the fourth time in his career, saved two set points in the tie-break before taking the win on his second match point after two hours and five minutes.

 

Nadal won all his previous 13 head-to-head matches against Gasquet who won a set against the Spanish star for the last time in Toronto seven years ago.

Gasquet went up a break in the first game after Nadal made a double fault. Nadal made an attempt to break back but Gasquet held his serve with a backhand winner for 2-0.

Nadal won the third game for 1-2 on serve after a backhand winner and two errors from Gasquet.

The Frenchman hit two aces and a forehand winner to win his service game to love. Nadal won his second game after Gasquet made an error.

In the seventh game Nadal held his serve at deuce with a volley winner for 3-4 before breaking back one game later after two errors from Gasquet at 30-all. Nadal won his third consecutive game to take the 5-4 lead with a forehand winner.

Nadal hit two backhand winners at 5-4 to clinch his fourth consecutive game for 6-4 on his third set point.

Nadal won 67 percent of his first serve points, hit 10 winners to 7 unforced errors and converted two of his four break point chances in the first set.

The second set followed a similar pattern with Gasquet going up a break as at the start of the first set.  Gaquet went up 0-40 on Nadal’s serve but the 14-time Grand Slam champion fought back to save six break points. After a very long game Gasquet converted his seventh break point with a volley winner to take a 1-0 lead. After another hard-fought game in which Nadal earned two break-back chances Gasquet held his serve with an ace to build up a 2-0 lead.

Nadal won another tight game on serve to close the gap to 1-2. Nadal earned a chance to break back in a long fourth game at deuce but Gasquet won his service game for 3-1 after Nadal made two errors.

Nadal closed the gap to 2-3 after a solid service game. In the sixth game Gasquet held serve without facing break points to pull away to 4-2.

Nadal clawed his way back by winning the 9th game for 4-5 with an ace. As Gasquet was serving for the set at 5-4, he made two double faults. Nadal broke back to 15 with a volley to draw level to 5-all. Gasquet hit a backhand winner and an ace to force the second set to the tie-break.

Nadal took a 4-1 lead with a mini-break in the tie-break but Gasquet rallied by breaking back with two strong returns. Gasquet won five consecutive points to take the 6-4 lead and earned two set points. Nadal saved both set points to draw level to 6-6. Nadal earned a match point at 7-6 with a powerful forehand but Gasquet saved it with a down the line backhand. Nadal claimed five of the last six points to seal the win on his second match point with 9-7 as Gasquet sent his backhand wide.

Nadal fired 31 winners and converted three of his eight break point chances.

Nadal now leads 14-0 in his head-to-head matches against Gasquet.

Nadal will face the winner of the second semifinal between Roger Federer and Jack Sock

After his defeat in the Basel semifnal Richard Gasquet is no longer in contention for a qualifying spot for the ATP Finals in London. The line-up for the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena is now set with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafa Nadal, Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer.

 

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.

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The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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