Convincing Rafael Nadal Edges Stan Wawrinka in Straight Sets at London ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Convincing Rafael Nadal Edges Stan Wawrinka in Straight Sets at London ATP Finals

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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.

 

MATCH REPORT

 

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.

 

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Late Bloomer Cameron Norrie Hopes To Inspire Next Generation Of British Players 

The Grand Slam semi-finalist has also spoken about one of his ultimate goals in the sport. 

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) in action against Lucas Pouille (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.2 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Camron Norrie’s route to the top of men’s tennis has been somewhat different to the likes of compatriot Andy Murray. 

 

Norrie was 21 when he made his ATP Tour main draw debut at The Queen’s Club back in 2017 after playing college tennis in America where he became the top collegiate player at Texas Christian University. A year later he cracked the top 100 for the first time before breaking into the top 10 in 2022. 

Since the start of 2021, when he was outside the world’s top 70, Norrie has reached the final of 10 Tour events where he has won four titles. The most prestigious of those was at Indian Wells where he won his first Masters 1000 title just over 12 months ago. 

Now at the age of 27, Norrie is spearheading British men’s tennis which is benefitting from the rise of youngsters such as Jack Draper. The country has 12 players in the ATP year-end top 100 – four in singles and a further eight in the doubles. 

“There’s obviously a lot of young Brits coming through, so hopefully I can provide some inspiration to show them that anyone can get to the top of the game, especially with the route that I chose, going through college,” Norrie said during an interview with The National. “It was a lot different a route than a lot of other players take.”

Coached by Argentina’s Facundo Lugones who he met at university, Norrie produced his best Grand Slam run in July by reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon before losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets. Becoming the first home male player to reach that stage of the tournament since Murray in 2016. 

“It’s been a great year, especially being able to back up last year was huge for me,” he reflected. “There were a lot of highlights, especially Wimbledon, making the semi-finals and having my family and friends there watching and supporting.
“But from there it was straight into focusing on the next events. As a tennis player you don’t really get to enjoy when you’re doing well, but looking back, having some time off resting in London, I’ve been going through a few things and there are definitely some highlights.”

Currently ranked 14th in the world, Norrie insists that his ultimate goal is to one day reach world No.1. He has been ranked as high as eighth in the world so far in his career. 

Although to reach that milestone, he needs to work more on his game against the best players in the world. This season the Brit has won just three out of 11 matches against top 10 opposition. 

“There are a lot more eyes on me now: going into Wimbledon as British No 1 then having the run I did, I feel like I am more well known in the UK. But for me, that is not the goal: it’s to be world No 1,” he said. “So, I’m not really thinking about that. There are still 13 players better than me so I need to improve.”

Norrie will return to action later this month at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud are also taking part. 

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Legendary Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri Dies Aged 91 

Bollettieri’s academy helped shape the future of tennis and the number of top players he has worked with is perhaps the most comprehensive in history. 

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Nick Bollettieri pictured with Serena Williams (image via nySportsday.com)

Tributes have poured in following the death of Nick Bollettieri whose long career in the sport established him as one of the most renowned coaches of the Open Era.

 

Bollettieri, who was born in New York to Italian parents, worked with some of the biggest names of the sport with many others also training at his prestigious academy in Florida. He oversaw the rise of stars such as Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Jelena Jankovic, and Andre Agassi. He also worked with Boris Becker, Marcelo Rios and Sabine Lisicki. 

The American switched to tennis coaching after dropping out of law school and opened up his academy in Bradenton, Florida in 1978. 

 “I don’t want to be Perry Mason. I want to be Fred Perry.” He once famously said. 

Many credit Bollettieri for establishing a blueprint for future tennis academies and many have followed the example set by him. IMG purchased his academy in 1987 but he remained in charge of the tennis programme for many years. 

News of Bollettieri’s death was confirmed on Monday morning by former world No.2 Tommy Haas who posted a tribute on Instagram. Haas, who is currently the director of the BNP Paribas Open, is another former player who was mentored by the American. 

“So many memories, I am not sure where to begin,” he wrote. “Nickiiiii, that’s how I have called you for the longest time. Thank you for your time, knowledge, commitment, expertise, the willingness to share your skill, your personal interest in mentoring me,and giving me the best opportunity to follow my dreams.
“You were a dreamer and a doer, and a pioneer in our sport, truly one of a kind.”
“I surely will miss you around the academy, our Tennis talks, miss showing off your tan, white teeth and body fat, miss watching you do Tai Chi, miss playing Golf with you watching you try to cheat, eating a Snickers bar and running for the bushes, and hearing all about your plans even at the age of 91. Thanks again for everything……..”

Bollettieri, who also had a stint in the army as a paratrooper, was introduced into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. One of the most extraordinary things about him was the fact he was never a professional player and taught himself tennis techniques by visiting a local park to watch others play. It is documented that he worked with at least 19 players who went on to crack the top 10 with 10 of those eventually rising to No.1. Furthermore Mark Knowles and Max Miryni went on to become world No.1 players in doubles. 

“THANK YOU Nick. It’s hard to find the right words and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. You have given so many children a place to work for their dream,” Germany’s Lisicki wrote on social media. 
“Supporting them with your knowledge and the belief that anything is possible. I was fortunate to be one of them. So many memories we created together that I will cherish forever. You’ve shaped the game of tennis and even just a couple of months ago at 91 you were telling me all about your next plans. You will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace Nicki.”

After initially considering tennis to be a ‘sissy sport,’ Bollettieri became a pioneer in his own right with a career spanning 60 years. Even less than a year before his death he continued to patrol the IMG Academy.

Bollettieri is survived by his wife, Cindi; seven children and four grandchildren.

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Tennis Great Jimmy Connors Criticizes Suspended Ban Of Davis Cup Staff Over Betting Violation

The eight-time Grand Slam winner has hit back at a ruling made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

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Jimmy Connors, 62 anni

Jimmy Connors believes tennis needs to embrace bettering after branding the decision to penalize two members of the American Davis Cup team for promoting a gambling organization as ‘going back to the dark ages.’ 

 

Team captain Mardy Fish and coach Bob Byran have been both issued with a $10,000 fine after admitting to promoting a gaming operator on their social media accounts. The duo have also been hit with a four-month suspended ban which means they must not commit any further offences during this period or they will be excluded from ITF events. 

Whilst both Fish and Bryan are retired players, they are still subject to the rules of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) as they are considered ‘covered persons’ in the sport due to the nature of their roles. The rulebook states that “directly or indirectly facilitating, encouraging and/or promoting” betting on tennis is not allowed.

“Bob and I did a DraftKings promo during the US Open that we were unaware we weren’t allowed to do,” Fish told The Associated Press via email. “As soon as we found out, I deleted the posts and cooperated with the ITIA.”

Weighing in on the issue, former world No.1 Connors argued that betting can have a positive impact on tennis and that the governing bodies should do more to capitalize on the opportunity. Whilst it is an offence for players and their staff to promote gambling, various tournaments around the world have sponsorship deals with betting companies. 

“So what’s the bad thing? Do they wanna go back to the dark ages?,” Connors said on the Advantage Connors podcast
“That (betting) just brings people more involved and get them more interested you know, what is going on with the players, who is the best, how they compete and so forth.”
“Tennis has been my life, but the excitement of being a basketball fan or baseball fan or football fan, the excitement of bringing that (betting) and being able to get more involved. I wanna watch tennis anyway but what’s gonna make me more involved and to be more part of it?” he added. 

In the past, Connors has been open about his gambling addiction. In his autobiography, the Outsider, he revealed he once placed a $1M bet on his battle of the sexes match against Martina Navratilova in 1992 which he won 7-5, 6-2. He has since recovered from his gambling addiction but still believes it can mix with tennis. 

Connors is the most decorated ATP singles player in history with 109 titles to his name.  

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