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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(EXCLUSIVE) Former Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli On Why Tennis Needs Nick Kyrgios

The former world No.7 spoke to Ubitennis about the Australian star who has sensationally been charged with assault.

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Marion Bartoli (left) pictured at the 2022 Wimbledon Centre Court 100 year celebration - image https://twitter.com/bartoli_marion

Marion Bartoli believes tennis needs a ‘disruptor’ like Nick Kyrgios in order to break the trend of similar personalities on the Tour.

Bartoli, who won the 2013 Wimbledon title, spoke to Ubitennis during an hour-long media session that took place at The All England Club on Tuesday morning. A large talking point of the tournament so far has been the roller-coaster behavior of Kyrgios during two of his matches. In the first round, he was issued with a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing with officials and spitting in front of some members of the crowd who were ‘disrespecting him.’ Then during a dramatic third round clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, he once again argued with officials and even questioned why his opponent wasn’t defaulted from their match after hitting the ball into the stands.

The Australian is undoubtedly a divisive character. However, Bartoli believes that is exactly what tennis needs. 

 

“You either like him or you don’t. He will not make you feel middle ranged about him,” Bartoli tells Ubitennis.
“We need people like this in tennis. Some sort of disruptor with a different character. I don’t think it is good to have everyone acting the same way.’

“The limit is when you start to go against the umpire but he brings something new and different which is exciting for the game.”

Although not everybody has the same viewpoint. During his press conference on Saturday night, Tsitsipas stunned reporters when he branded his peer a bully due to his antics. Something Kyrgios denies. The Greek has also said he supports some sort of intervention to address the behavior of the world No.40 if such an opportunity occurs. 

“He said what he felt on the court and that’s fair. You just have to respect that,” Bartoli comments on Tsitsipas.
“At the end of the day we know what Nick is bringing to the court and it is not really surprising. It was almost as if Stefanos looked surprised by that which for me is something I wouldn’t have expected from him.”

Controversy aside, Kyrgios is looking to be a major danger in the tournament as long as his shoulder holds up. It is the first time he has reached the last eight of the tournament since 2014 after beating Brandon Nakashima in five sets on Monday. In his section of the draw, he faces unseeded Cristian Garin next, followed by a potential clash with Rafael Nadal. 

It was Kyrgios’ latest performance which has drawn praise from Bartoli.

“I think he has been doing extremely well this year, tennis-wise. He got a lot of confidence playing well on the grass before Wimbledon and he just loves the show,” she said.
“He loves the center stage and the way he played (against Nakashima) was brilliant. He didn’t go out way too much into his extreme where he would talk out loud all the time. It was just about his tennis. He’s always so exciting and he’s a great addition to the championships.“

As our discussion about the tennis star took place, sensational news broke that Kyrgios has been charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The Canberra Times has reported that the assault took place last year and he is set to go to court next month. If he is found guilty, he could go to prison. 

Pick for the women’s final

As for the women’s draw, Bartoli has her money on two particular individuals. Although it is Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who she is tipping to win the title. The second seed is yet to contest a Grand Slam final in her career. 

Meanwhile, 2019 champion Simona Halep is gaining momentum in the tournament. After struggling with injury and confidence issues in recent months, the Romanian is yet to drop a set in four matches played. 

“Ons Jabeur is playing great tennis. She was my pick to win the Wimbledon title. I think Simona Halep has been extremely impressive, the way she won against Badosa was really quite something. Those two should be the ones going through to the final but in this year’s championship there have been so many upsets you never know.” Bartoli commented.

Bartoli is playing in the mixed-doubles legends draw at Wimbledon alongside Nenad Zimonjic. On Sunday she was one of many former champions to take part in a special ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Center Court. 

“It feels amazing. I get to be back on center court with my fellow other champions. That was definitely the highlight of my championships so far,” she said.
”To see roger, Rafa, Novak, etc, all the lineup of incredible champions, for me to be part of that group picture was something I would never forget.“
“Wimbledon is by far my favorite place in the world. For me, every year to wear my purple badge and walk through those gates is absolutely amazing.”

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Why Rafael Nadal Faces His Biggest Test Yet

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins UbiTennis to reflect on the highs and lows of day 8 of Wimbledon.

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Will the upcoming quarter-final be Rafael Nadal’s hardest match yet? How will Nick Kyrgios’ shoulder recover?

 

The second Monday at Wimbledon was one full of intrigue in the men’s draw. Whilst on the women’s side, Simona Halep was in impressive form against Paula Badosa but tennis commentator Flink explains why he thinks her upcoming clash with Amanda Anisimova will be tougher.

Alongside Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Flink also looks at Jannik Sinner’s chances of causing a huge upset against reigning champion Novak Djokovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Rafael Nadal Coy Over New Injury Speculation

After the foot problems in Paris, there is a strong possibility the Spaniard could be experiencing another injury issue.

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image via twitter.com/atp

There are fresh concerns surrounding Rafael Nadal after he declined to go into the reason why he was wearing abdominal taping during his fourth round match at Wimbledon. 

 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was seen wearing some kind of protection in the abdominal area after changing his t-shirt during one of the breaks. In recent weeks Nadal has been dealing with physical issues due to a long-term foot condition he has. At the French Open he revealed that he had to undergo injections in order for him to continue playing en route to winning the tournament for a 14th time.

Playing 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal battled his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6), win. Speaking to reporters after his latest win at The All England Club, the Spaniard sidestepped a question about a potential abdominal problem he could be experiencing. 

“I am a little bit tired of talking about my body. It’s not that I don’t want to answer your question, but at the same time sometimes I am tired of myself, all the issues that I am having. I prefer to not talk about that now,” he replied.
“I am in the middle of the tournament and I have to keep going. All respect for the rest of the opponents. I am just trying my best every single day. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Continuing to stay coy about his form and health, Nadal offered an alternative perspective when asked if he was nearing his best level once again. He has dropped just two sets in four matches played so far at Wimbledon which is his first grass-court event since 2019. 

“It’s always the same here. It’s not about how close I am to the level or not. I don’t know that. I can’t predict what can happen.” He said.
“But the positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good. Then two days ago I played at a high level for the first time. And today most of the matches, again, at a very positive level.”

The straight sets scoreline failed to tell the true story of Nadal’s roller-coaster win on Center Court. Taking on Zandschulp, a player who burst onto the main scene last year by reaching the US Open quarter-finals as a qualifier, the 22-time major champion engaged in a match of two halves. Nadal looked on the verge of an easy victory after breaking once in the first set, twice in the second and storming to a 5-2 in the third. However, the Dutchman refused to go down without a fight by displaying his best tennis of the match to draw level. 

Now engaged in his first real test, Nadal was under intense pressure to close it out in three. If he didn’t there would have been an inevitable delay for the roof to come on due to poor light. If that occurred, there would be less than two hours of play left before the 11pm curfew began.

Nevertheless, Nadal didn’t need the roof as he squeezed through the tiebreaker. After squandering three consecutive match points, he prevailed on his fourth with the help of a lob that triggered Zandschulp to smash the ball out. 

Nadal is through to his 47th major quarter-final and is only the third man in the Open Era to do so at Wimbledon after celebrating his 36th birthday. In total, he has won 309 main draw matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

In the last eight, the Spaniard has a shot of revenge when he takes on Taylor Fritz who ended his 20-match winning streak earlier this year in Indian Wells. During that match, Nadal had a rib injury and he had beaten the American earlier that month in Mexico. 

“That last match (in Indian Wells) was zero because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things because the pain was terrible playing that match.” He said. 

As for Fritz, he believes their upcoming clash will be at a higher standard given the form both players are currently in. Fritz is currently on a eight-match winning streak after recently claiming the Eastbourne Open title. 

“It’s going to be a lot different match obviously. Indian Wells was kind of crazy with both of us being extremely beaten up before the final. This time I think we’ll get healthier versions of both of us, we’ll see.” Fritz previewed.

The question for nadal, is how healthy is the current version of him really is? Only time will tell. 

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