Rafael Nadal edges Stan Wawrinka in his debut match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals winning by 6-3 6-2 in 1 hour and 23 minutes. The Spaniard wins thanks to consistency and aggression, as he starts his bid for a first ever year-end championships title.
Rafael Nadal is in London at the ATP World Tour Finals not just to see the city and hang around, settled on his qualification, considering how many doubted he could even make it to the last 8 at one point this season. While the other have managed to shine in the first 3 quarters of the season, the Spaniard has had to fight with his demons. And despite the doubts and the nerves, the low moments, step by step Nadal has managed to put his tennis back together. In London Rafael qualified as 5th in the race, increasingly shining more as the season played its last bids.
Against Stan Wawrinka in London, in his debut match at the O2 Arena, Nadal simply had more energy in the tank. The Spaniard exhausted the French Open champion showing glimpses of that consistency and fitness that brought him on top of men’s tennis, to stay. The match wasn’t as entertaining as many would have ought for, but it showed clearly how Nadal can and has to be considered a favourite in the Ilie Nastase group.
Nadal has the will, the energy, and the tennis he needs to go far in London, where he has a runner-up finish in 2010 and 2013 as his best result. The Spaniard has now found the length in his shots, the ability to send every ball back, together with the unique skill of opening up the angles without almost ever missing a ball.
Wawrinka and Nadal were playing for the 17th time in their careers, the fourth in 2015. Wawrinka had won in Rome and two weeks ago in Paris, Nadal had only won one match in Shanghai, dominating a tired Stan. This time Wawrinka was full power, at least in the first set, and Nadal won in straight sets. With this win, Rafael leads the head-2-head against the Swiss 14-3.
In the past years Nadal had to pull put 4 times from the ATP Finals due to injuries, always reaching the very last part of the season either injured or torn off from a long-lasting, exhausting season. The nerves and the insecurities worked as a fuel for the Spaniard this year. As the field arrived in London and we have now had a chance to see al 8 competitors in action, we can say that Rafael looks among the freshest together with World No.1 and season dominator Novak Djokovic.
Considering the Spaniard’s longevity and successful career, it is surprising to see that today’s victory is only the 14th Nadal has celebrated at the ATP Finals. But again, that was another Rafael Nadal. What if these are the premises for something even better for the 14-time Grand Slam champion? Let’s first see how far this Nadal can go in London first, as the tournament for him as only just started.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) b. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-3 6-2
Match Time: 1 hour and 23 minutes
O2 Arena – London
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals RR
THE FIRST SET
Nadal starts the match on serve. The Spaniard hits two forehands long to go down 0-30. Wawrinka takes control of the rally attacking with his forehand, covering the net and closing the point with a forehand volley winner to go 0-40 and have 3 break points right away. The Swiss plays an impressive point on his backhand, using top spin to challenge Nadal’s forehand and winning the rally with a stunning backhand cross-court winner. Stan breaks in the first game to love, to lead 1-0.
Nadal wins the first point of his match with a forehand progression down the line, that forces Wawrinka to hit in the net. Wawrinka feels the pressure immediately, fires a forehand wide and then a backhand long to allow Nadal with 3 break point chances at 0-40. Attacking with his forehand, Nadal closes the point with a forehand inside-out winner breaking back to love to set the score at 1-1.
In the third game Nadal becomes the first player to win a point on serve, as he attacks the ball and closes the point with a backhand cross-court winning approach at the net. Up 40-30, Nadal commits a double fault, but manages to have another break point while on the attack. Wawrinka kills a forehand down the line in the net, as Nadal holds serve to lead 2-1.
Wawrinka fires his first ace in the fourth game, then holds to 15 to set the score tied at 2-2. The Spaniard is far more secure on his first serve, managing to take control of the rallies on his service games. Nadal holds to 15 to keep the lead in the set up 3-2. Wawrinka has lost the brilliance of the first game, more keen to miss on balls bouncing half court. A good game of first serves is enough for the Swiss to hold to love and set the score at 3-3.
The match isn’t super entertaining so far, with short rallies and few winners. Wawrinka manages to awake the sleepy crowd with a fantastic cross-court backhand winner in the 7th game, but an aggressive Nadal dominates his service game, holding to 15 to continue leading 4-3. The Spaniard closes the game with a forehand winner.
In the 8th game, Nadal has a break point at 30-40, as Wawrinka can’t reach with his backhand volley on a deep lob from the Spaniard. Wawrinka saves the threat with a first serve and forehand winner. The Swiss faces another break point as he hits a backhand wide at deuce. Wawrinka serves a second service at 107 mph and then fires a forehand full swing to win the point and deny Nadal his second chance to break in the game. Stan has a chance to close the game on his advantage, but hits a double fault. The Swiss hits another easy forehand long and Nadal has his third chance to break. On the break point Wawrinka misses a forehand badly, on a ball that bounces without pace mid court. Nadal breaks and leads 5-3, serves for the set.
As Wawrinka seems unable to move well on court, Nadal attacks ruthless on his forehand. The Spaniard closes the first set with an ace after 37 minutes, holding serve to 15 and winning 6 games to 3.
Nadal closes the set with 10 winners, compared to Wawrinka’s 7.
THE SECOND SET
Nadal starts the second set on the attack. The Spaniard takes the net and closes with an airborne forehand to lead 15-40 on Wawrinka’s serve, getting 2 break point chances. Wawrinka denies both with a baseline winner and an ace. Nadal has another chance as Wawrinka misses on his backhand. The Swiss reacts strongly once again firing a forehand inside-out winner. The quality of the match raises. Wawrinka fires an ace, Nadal responds with a forehand return winner. The Spaniard then has another break point on which Wawrinka catches two lines with the forehand.
The Swiss finds it hard to deal with Nadal’s pace as he faces another break point. The forehand helps the Swiss again to get back to deuce. Wawrinka saves yet another break point, with an ace. On the umpteenth chance to break, Nadal is forced to surrender again, as Wawrinka attack at the net and closes with a smash winner. A backhand down the line winner allows Stan with a chance to closet he game. Finally, Nadal hits a return long and Wawrinka holds. In the game Nadal had 7 break points.
Wawrinka responds in the following game having 2 break point chances. Nadal saves the first with a forehand winner. On the second chance, Nadal wins the best point of the match. Wawrinka at the net plays a drop volley, Nadal reaches the ball and wins the point with a lob. The Spaniard holds serve staying strong to get back to 1-1.
In the third game Nadal is on the raise again. The Spaniard has three break points on Wawrinka’s serve. The Swiss saves the first, then on the second commits a double fault. Nadal breaks and leads 2-1. In the following game Nadal holds to 30 as Wawrinka hits another backhand wide.
The Swiss seems to have given up on his chances to win the match at this point. Wawrinka hardly runs to get the ball now, as Nadal keeps on being consistent putting the Swiss under pressure. Nadal has once again a break point in the 5th game, but Wawrinka saves it with an ace. The Swiss hits another backhand long to surrender to another break. Nadal takes control of the match leading 4-1.
The Spaniard shows major glimpses of the consistent tennis that allowed him to dominate tennis on clay over the years. Helped by the slower surface at the O2, Nadal hardly misses a ball, tiring off Wawrinka shot after shot. As the Swiss has nothing left in the tank, Nadal holds serve to 15 to lead 5-1 and ensure himself a chance of serving for the match.
The Swiss reacts with pride, holding serve firing two aces in the game to trail back 2-5. Called to serve for the match, Nadal doesn’t tumble. The Spaniard gets to match point with a backhand cross-court winner, leading 40-15 in the game. The 28-year-old closes the match after 1 hour and 23 minutes with a deep first serve on Wawrinka’s backhand. The Swiss returns long and Nadal gets the cheer of the London crowd.
The final stats reveal how Nadal closed the match with 18 winners and 12 unforced errors, with just one ace. Wawrinka ends the match with 29 winners and 35 unforced errors, and 10 aces.
Vasek Pospisil upsets Fabio Fognini in Davis Cup opening match in Madrid
Canada’s Vasek Pospisil upset this year’s Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini 7-6 7-5 after 1 hour and 48 minutes in the opening match of the Group F at the 2019 Davis Cup Final at the Caja Magica in Madrid.
Pospisil, who replaced Felix Auger Aliassime, earned the first break of the match in the fourth game after two double faults and a backhand error from Fognini. Pospisil saved the first of the two break points he faced, but Fognini broke back on his second chance after a backhand error from the Canadian player. Fognini did not convert two break points at 5-5.
Pospisil earned his only mini-break at 5-4 before closing out the first set on his second set point with a backhand passing shot, when Fognini hit a backhand into the net.
Fognini saved a break point at 1-1 in a hard-fought third game, when Pospisil made a forehand error. Pospisil brought up three break points at 5-5. Fognini saved the first two chances with his serve, but he dropped his serve on the third chance, when he hit his backhand into the net. Pospisil served out the match at 15 in the 12th game.
Pospisil is now ranked world number 150 in the world after missing half the season, while he was recovering from back surgery.
“I worked hard to get back here from surgery. Since then I have come back with a fresh perspective on the sport. Eight months ago I was thinking if I would ever be playing at this level again, but I am playing at a higher level much faster than I expected”, said Pospisil.
Gerard Pique Believes Long-Term Davis Cup Project Will Work Despite Critics
Gerard Pique claims that the new Davis Cup is a long-term project as the competition kicks off today in Madrid.
Footballer Gerard Pique believes the Davis Cup is a long-term project that can work despite criticism over the re-formatted competition.
Last August, the Barcelona defender had his re-formatted idea of the Davis Cup approve as part of big funding put in by his company Kosmos.
The competition, which starts today in Madrid, sees 18 teams compete in a one-week competition where they will fight for the Davis Cup title.
Despite Pique’s enthusiasm for the event, many fans and players have criticised the move explaining how the 118 year history of the competition has ended.
However for the Spaniard, he believes that he has convinced many doubters on this journey, “In terms of the event we needed to convince different people who were maybe sceptical and were against the idea of changing the format,” Pique admitted to Davis Cup.com.
“We’ve had to face it since the beginning. This is something I believe we did an amazing job at because we feel people in the game are now more convinced.
“The Davis Cup has a big meaning in the world of sport and tennis, there were some people against it, but right now I feel that Davis Cup is going to be stronger than it has been in the last 10 years.”
Despite the likes of Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev missing from this week’s competition, there are eleven top 20 players competing including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Many critics are seeing this innovation as a short-term project but Pique hasn’t seen it that way and believes that in five years time people will be convinced about the event, “I like to think big and our idea since the beginning is to put this competition where it deserves to be, and maybe to create an event longer than one week,” the Spaniard said.
“We understand we have to start little by little. I don’t want to compare ourselves to any other tournament because I think we are unique. In five years’ time I want everyone, players and fans, to think ‘Davis Cup is in November and I want to be there.'”
Even though there are doubters players such as Andy Murray have told people to give the event a chance despite the amount of tickets that are still available for the event.
The action begins today at 3pm GMT time with three ties:
Croatia v Russia
Italy v Canada
Belgium v Colombia
Stefanos Tsitsipas Triumphs In Thriller To Become Youngest ATP Finals Champion In 18 Years
The Greek is the first ever player from his country to win the season-ending tournament.
LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has won the biggest title of his career after staging a dramatic comeback against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, who was making his debut in the event this year, weathered the storm against his at times tentative rival to prevail 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4), in what was a marathon encounter. Becoming the eighth youngest champion of all time and the youngest since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001. In total, he hit 34 winners to 16 unforced errors as he paid tribute to the crowd after.
“It’s unbelievable having such an army behind me. They give me so much energy and belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“They motivate me and give me so much energy in general. I just love that.”
For only the eighth time since the birth of the tournament in 1970, both players were making their debut in the title match of the end-of-season extravaganza. Tsitsipas, who is the first Greek to ever play the event, scored triumphs over Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer, as well as Daniil Medvedev earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Thiem secured his place with the help of two wins over members of the big three (Novak Djokovic and Federer), as well as knocking Zverev out of the tournament.
Heading into the London showdown, both players have been solid behind their serve. In their four previous matches, Thiem has only been broken six times and Tsitsipas three. Continuing that trend, the duo matched each other game-by-game throughout the opener. Thiem had three chances to break Tsitsipas in two different service games, but he wasn’t able to due to some impressive play from the Greek. Including a risky decision to hit a second serve and volley to save one of those breaks. Tsitsipas also had two separate chances to break during the opening set.
With little to distinguish between them, it would be one shot that proved critical to the outcome of the tiebreak. Tied at 6-6, a Tsitsipas backhand shank handed his rival the chance to serve for the lead. Something he achieved with the help of a 129 mph serve down the line which drew an error from across the court.
After narrowingly losing out on the chance to lead, Tsitsipas hit back emphatically against the increasingly wilting Austrian. Thiem has been struggling with flu symptoms throughout the week. An elevation in his intensity saw him destroy the momentum generated by the world No.5. Within just 14 minutes, he went from losing the first set to opening up a 4-0 stronghold in the second. It wasn’t long before the lightning-fast comeback was sealed by Tsitsipas, who committed only one unforced error in eight games played.
“I have no clue how I managed to play so well in the second set. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t thinking about much.” Tsitsipas commented on his comeback. “This lead to a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice. I didn’t give him many options and I think it was an excellent set.”
A brief half to proceedings occurred when Thiem exit the court for a comfort break. However, when he returned Tsitsipas continued to attack his opponent on the court. Three games into the decider a Thiem backhand crashing into the net rewarded him another break and the lead for the first time. Even a stumble where it looked like he hurt his knee failed to derail the Next Gen star.
However, there would be another twist to the match. A Thiem revival saw him hit back to draw level at 3-3. Prompting loud cheers from the crowd in the 18,500 capacity arena. For only the fourth time in history, the winner of the ATP Finals would be decided by a final tiebreaker. Both players had their chances, but it would be Tsitsipas who would edge his way to victory. Causing heartbreak for Thiem after their gut-busting encounter that lasted just over two-and-a-half hours.
“It was a bit frustrating for me to be playing with nerves in such a big event. I was a break-up, couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tiebreak and I’m so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.” The new champion concluded.
There is some consolation for Thiem. Following his run this week, he will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings. The highest year-end position of his career to date.
“It was an unbelievable match. Bravo Stefanos. I think we are playing the most mentally brutal sport existing.” Said Thiem
“It was so close and we were fighting 100% in the end. But that how it is in tennis.’
“You really deserve it (the title). You’re an amazing player and I really hope we are going to have some great finals in the future as well.”
It would be another Stefan in the shape of Stefan Edberg who would present the rising star his trophy. Capping off what has been a breakthrough 12 months since he won the Next Gen Finals in Milan.
Tsitsipas exits the tournament with total prize money earnings of $2,256,000 for his week in London, as well as 1300 ranking points.
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