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

Ivan Pasquariello

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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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Roger Federer Still Experiencing Knee Issues, Says Fellow Member Of Big Three

A comment made by Novak Djokovic has triggered speculation over the current health of the 38-year-old.

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Roger Federer at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals in London (photo Roberto Zanettin)

20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer wasn’t asked to participate in a tennis event being set up in Europe due to ongoing issues with his troublesome knee, according to one of his biggest rivals.

 

Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he didn’t invite the Swiss maestro to participate in the upcoming Adria Tour due to his current fitness. Federer has only played one tournament so far in 2020, which was at the Australian Open where he reached the semi-finals. A month later he underwent surgery on his right knee for the second time in his career and subsequently withdrew from the clay swing (before the Tour was suspended due to COVID-19). The procedure he underwent was arthroscopic surgery, which is usually minimally invasive.

Djokovic, who leads his swiss rival 27-23 in their head-to-head, told reporters on Monday that the two have been in contact during the lockdown. Along with fellow Big Three member Rafael Nadal. When questioned if he has asked the two tennis giants to take part in the Adria Tour, which he is helping organise, the world No.1 shed some light on Federer.

“More than usual, Rafa, Roger and I have communicated, due to changes due to the coronavirus pandemic and helping lower-ranked tennis players,” he said.
“Federer still has knee problems, so I didn’t ask him.’
“Rafa has been playing recently. We talked last week about the US Open, but I didn’t ask him. I don’t expect him to come and ask him.”

It is unclear as to what the exact problem is with Federer or how significant it could be. On April 20th he shed some light on his knee during an Instagram live chat with Rafael Nadal. It was during the chat where the world No.4 admitted that his recovery had slowed before stating that he was in no rush to return to action.

“With the knee it is ok. I had a really good first six weeks and then it (the recovery) was getting a bit slower,” he explained. “Now it is getting better again but I have plenty of time so there is no stress or rush.’
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter when I return as long as my knee is good. I’ve been hitting against the wall, doing my rehab and fitness.” He later added.

During his most recent video interview last weekend, the 38-year-old stated that he was ‘happy’ with his body but played down the idea of the Tour resuming soon. He made the comments whilst speaking with former player Gustavo Kuerten, who is organising a fundraiser to support families affected by the coronavirus in Brazil.

“I am happy with my body now and I still believe that the return of the tour is a long way off,” he commented “And I think it’s important mentally to enjoy this break, having played so much tennis.
“When I’m getting towards returning and have a goal to train for, I think I will be super motivated.”

Federer has won 103 ATP titles so far in his career. The second highest tally in the history of men’s tennis after Jimmy Connors.

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Novak Djokovic On Why He Didn’t Post Details Of Lockdown Training

The Serbian tennis star has shed some light on his recent training routines as he outlines plans for a Balkan tennis tour.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been training almost daily since the world of tennis came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic but opted to keep his activities out of the limelight to avoid any potential backlash from fellow players.

 

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the Pandemic with officials hoping to restart the sport in some capacity during the summer ahead of the US Open. Nevertheless Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row, has been able to continue practicing in Marbella. He and his family were staying in a house located next to a tennis court.

Speaking with Serbian reports on Monday, the 17-time grand slam champion admitted that he didn’t want to ‘anger’ others by posting updates on social media of him training. Showing that he has been able to stay active more than other players during the lockdown.

“I had the opportunity to train almost every day during coronavirus because we stayed in a house next to a tennis court. I played a lot of tennis on a hard surface, but I didn’t upload anything on the net so as not to anger other players,” he told The Telegraf.
“I started recently on clay, I had two training sessions here, I feel good physically. I was quite active, I followed my program. Of course, the intensity decreases because I was not preparing for tournaments.”

With uncertainty surrounding when the Tour may start again, numerous countries have created their own domestic tournaments. In Djokovic’s case, he is the founder of his own event that will be played across the Balkan region. The Adria Tour is set to take place between June and July with three top 20 players set to participate. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also taking part.

“I started the whole idea of ​​the project and I communicate every day with TSS (Serbian Tennis Federation) and the company that organizes all this,” said Djokovic.
“The current international competitions, ITF and ATP will not happen before the first of August, and even that is uncertain. Afterwards, I will have time again if things resume on a hard surface in America, because I will have a month to prepare for the continuation of the season.”

Should it all go to plan, the clay-court tournament is set to be played in Belgrade (Serbia), Zadar (Croatia), Montenegro and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Although it has been confirmed that the locations of the Bosnian and Montenegrin events are still not fully confirmed with the possibility of Sarajevo hosting one leg of the tour. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Prior to the Tour suspension, Djokovic was unbeaten in 2020. He started the season by winning three consecutive titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. Those triumphs enabled him to earn prize money of $4,410,541. He also earned just over $70,000 from playing doubles so far this year.

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‘He Could Become An Excellent Player’ – Remember Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Debut 21 Years Later

More than two decades ago on this day was the start of where it all began for the former world No.1. But what did he and his opponent think about his first match played at a major?

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Roger Federer at the 1999 French Open

On this day 21 years ago the most decorated grand slam champion in the history of men’s tennis began his major career.

 

Roger Federer embarked upon the 1999 French Open as the youngest player in the field and yet to break into the world’s top 100. Aged 17, the Swiss player was yet to play in the final of an ATP Tournament and only managed to enter the Roland Garros main draw thanks to a wild card. His opponent was third seed Pat Rafter who at the time was at the peak of his career. The Australian had won back-to-back US Open titles leading up to the tournament.

Undoubtedly the odds were piled heavily against a young and inexperienced Federer, but he still managed to make his mark. Surprisingly taking the first set before Rafter fought back to eventually win 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.

“The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,” the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote at the time.

Rafter echoed a similar view to L’Equipe during his post-match media engagements. He went on to become one of the few players to have a perfect winning record against Federer of 3-0. Also defeating him twice during the 2001 season.

“The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.”

Rafter’s prediction came true but even he at the time didn’t expect the 17-year-old to go on and become one of the greatest. Now Federer holds the records for most grand slam titles (20), most weeks as world No.1 (310) and has won more ATP Awards than anybody else (37). Approaching the age of 39, he remains a prominent fixture in the world’s top 10 18 years on from his debut.

Federer has spoken about his first taste of a grand slam a few times in the past. One of his most notable observations was during a conversation he had with Rafter at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. When speaking about losing his one set lead, the Swiss maestro said it was partly to do with his mental weakness and showing too much respect to the top guns at the time.

”I was up a set and I was just 17 years old and I wasn’t expected to win,” Federer recounted. ”I think I got broken in the second set and I was like ‘Oh, God, what am I doing?’
”Next thing you know I’m losing 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. It was very mental. I had a lot of respect for the older generation who were already accomplished. Obviously stars like Pat were, for me, people I really looked up to, even though I knew I could beat them. Mentally I was not so solid.”

Rafter has also admitted that his 1999 victory was partly down to the mental weakness of his rival during a 2018 interview with Blick newspaper. However, he blames losing the first set on never playing Federer before.

“I met Roger for the first time at the French Open in 1999. It was his grand slam debut. Since I did not know his game at the time, it took me some time to adjust to him. That’s why I lost the first set,” he said.
“Roger’s biggest handicap was his mental maturity, he was only 17 years old. That was one of the reasons why I came back and win in four sets.”

Whilst the French Open was where it all began for Federer, his record in the major is the worst out of the four grand slams. It is the only one he has failed to win multiple times, claiming his sole title back in 2009. Overall, he has played in the main draw 18 times with a win-loss of 70-17.

How old was the current top 10 when Federer made his grand slam debut?

  1. Novak Djokovic – 12
  2. Rafael Nadal – 12
  3. Dominic Thiem – 5
  4. Roger Federer – 17
  5. Daniil Medvedev – 3
  6. Stefanos Tsitsipas – 9 months
  7. Alexander Zverev – 2
  8. Matteo Berrettini – 3
  9. Gael Monfils – 12
  10. David Goffin – 8

(numbers in years unless otherwise stated)

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