Djokovic and Federer the favourites in Stan Smith, but is Rafa the contender in the other group? - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic and Federer the favourites in Stan Smith, but is Rafa the contender in the other group?

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Could Nadal’s late season resurgence see him dominate Ilie Nastase Group?

Ubaldo Scanagatta and Tennis Channel’s Steve Flink Comment the ATP World Tour Finals Draws (AUDIO)

 

Flink: “Nadal should be happy to be in his group”

If the Stan Smith Group looks somewhat predictable, with two Grand slam champions, tennis fans can be reassured that the Ilie Nastase Group is anything but. This article previews each singles player from both groups, and attempts a prediction as to how each group might eventually pan out.

Stan Smith

Novak Djokovic: The World Number 1 has had a scintillating year, winning three of the four Grand Slams, and six of nine Masters titles. He is the three-time defending champion in London, and will be the favourite to extend his run. Crucially for Djokovic, the player who has given him the most issues this year, Stan Wawrinka, has been drawn in the other group. Will certainly fancy his chances over Tomas Berdych, who he was drawn with last year, and defeated 6-2, 6-2. Kei Nishikori has had an injury plagued year, so should be little of little danger to Djokovic. Roger Federer is the major threat. He loves indoor tennis, and if Djokovic becomes unstuck in one match it would be with Federer.

Roger Federer: His season has been strong, highlighted by two Grand Slam finals, including his first In New York since 2009. He was beaten though in each by Djokovic. Federer loves indoors tennis, but has failed to defeat Djokovic in their last four meetings on the surface. Yet if anyone has the best chance of defeating Federer in the group stages, then Federer is the man. Has beaten Nishikori in their last two meetings, and Berdych in their last three. Question marks over his early Paris exit to John Isner.

Tomas Berdych: Has had a good if slightly underwhelming year, but has done well to qualify for sixth consecutive year. A telling stat is that he has failed to beat any of the opponents he is set to face in the group this season. He has been soundly thrashed by Federer twice, though did play Djokovic close in all three of their meetings this year. He did not encounter Nishikori this year. Lack of wins over top players is the apparent weakness In Berdych’s game this year.

Kei Nishikori: The Japanese star takes his place at the ATP World Tour Finals for the second time, though without a Grand Slam final display to back him up this time. Has beaten fellow contenders Ferrer and Nadal this year, but has no wins against his group opponents, though like Berdych, he took a set from Djokovic in their meeting in Rome. Inconsistent with injury this year, but has proven that when fit, can still beat the best. He has only met played one match, versus Djokovic, against his group opponents this season, so could be considered something of a wildcard.

Group Prediction:  1. Djokovic 3-0, 2. Federer, 2-1, 3. Nishikori 1-2, 4. Berdych 0-3.

Ilie Nastase

Andy Murray: The Brit leapfrogged Roger Federer into second place in the rankings at the back-end of the season, and his reward is avoiding Djokovic in the group stages. That said, Wawrinka, Nadal, and Ferrer are noteworthy opponents. Yet he has won both meetings with Ferrer this season, including a meeting on the Spaniard’s favoured surface of clay. He also beat Nadal on clay for the first time, in their only match this year, but he has struggled against Rafa in previous meetings at the World Tour Finals. Hasn’t played Wawrinka this season, so an interesting matchup in store there. The underlying subtext of the Davis Cup Final could have an impact on Murray’s focus, and he can’t afford any slip-ups against the quality of opposition he faces this year.

Stan Wawrinka: Should Stan be happy or relieved to have avoided Djokovic in the group stages? He is probably the only player capable of making a question of that this season. Beating Djokovic in the Roland Garros final solidified Wawrinka’s credentials as a genuine force, after his fortuitous win over Nadal in the Australian Open. A brilliant year punctuated by a few surprise losses but impressive titles, means that we never really know what to expect from Stan, except that he normally rises to the occasion in big events. Pushed Federer all the way in a tense semi-final in London last year, Stan will be looking to go one better in 2015

Rafael Nadal: After a comprehensive defeat to Djokovic at Roland Garros, followed by early defeats at Wimbledon and the US Open, some had begun to write Rafa off. Yet he is a true champion, and has signalled his return to somewhere near his good is not best form. He destroyed Wawrinka in Shanghai but lost to him in Paris. Finals in Beijing and Basel suggest he is in form, and played Federer close in the latter final. Gone is the almost afraid Rafa from the beginning of the year, replace by a force that could easily go all the way in London. He still dominates the head-to-head with all three in the group. He leads Murray 15-6, Ferrer 23-6, and Wawrinka 13-3. This might actually make him the favourite in this tight group.

David Ferrer. It is testament that Ferrer is yet again here this year. His participation in previous years has largely relied on playing more tournaments than just about any other player. Yet this year, an elbow injury curtailed his involvement in Wimbledon, and forced him to miss a large chunk of the season. He has instead relied on performing well in the events he has been able to play. No wins in three meetings this year vs Murray/Nadal, and did not face Wawrinka. He has a losing record against both Murray (6-11) and Nadal (6-23), and has lost his last three meetings with Wawrinka, even if he does still edge the head-to-head (7-6). Ferrer is a dogged competitor, but the feeling is his ability to earn wins in London will be more down to his opponent’s games than his own.

Group prediction: 1. Nadal 2-1, 2. Wawrinka 2-1, 3. Murray 2-1, 4. Ferrer 0-3

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Roger Federer Withdraws From Toronto And Cincinnati Due To Ongoing Knee Injury

Roger Federer’s knee problems continue as he withdraws from Toronto and Cincinnati.

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Roger Federer (@CincyTennis - Twitter)

Roger Federer’s knee problems continue as he withdraws from Toronto and Cincinnati.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion’s preparations for the US Open have taken a hit after withdrawing from the two Masters 1000 events in Canada and Cincinnati.

Federer’s last match was a comfortable straight sets defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Since then the Swiss has been recovering his knee injury as he looks to play the US Open and win the race to 21 grand slams as him, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are tied on 20.

However Federer will have to do this without any competitive preparation as he withdraws from both Canada and Cincinnati.

Federer though isn’t the only one to have withdrawn from Canada as Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Milos Raonic and Pablo Carreno Busta have also announced their withdrawal from the tournament.

Tournament director Karl Hale commented on the withdrawals and admitted he was disappointed, “We are of course disappointed that Milos [Raonic], Alexander [Zverev], Roger [Federer], Matteo [Berrettini] and Pablo [Carreno Busta] will not be competing in Toronto this year,” he told the National Bank Open website.

“For Milos in particular, we know he was looking forward to playing in front of a Canadian crowd in his home tournament. However, we fully understand their decisions and wish them all the best for the rest of the season. We hope they will all return to Toronto in two years’ time.”

As of now Toronto still has Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov are still expected to play.

The draw takes place at 12pm local time on Saturday with main draw action beginning on Monday.

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Simona Halep Opens Up About Injury Battle Ahead Of Return

The Romanian says she went through the ‘hardest part of her career’ due to the severity of her injury.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep has described her latest experience with injury as the worst of her career and remains unsure about how she will feel in her upcoming matches at the Canadian Open.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played on the Tour since suffering a calf injury during her second round match at the Italian Open in May. An MRI later revealed that she had suffered a tear in the upper region of her left calf. The Romanian attempted to return to action at Wimbledon but was unsuccessful and was also forced to miss the Olympics in Tokyo.

Reflecting on her latest injury setback, Halep said it was the ‘hardest time’ in her career due to the severity of the injury. She will be hoping to make up for lost time at the Canadian Open in Montreal which she has won on two previous occasions in 2016 and 2018. Although the Romanian admits she is unsure about how she will fair.

“Anything is possible after such an injury. I had never been through something like this, a torn muscle. The doctors told me that I have recovered; I feel recovered, but in an official match it is different,” Halep told reporters ahead of her flight to Canada.
“So I will see when I get there. It was the hardest time of my career because it was a pretty serious injury, I had never met anything like that, but I took the positive side and I was glad to stay home.”

The 29-year-old confirmed that she is now playing pain-free once again as she aims to get back in full shape in time for the US Open which will begin at the end of this month. It is the only Grand Slam where she is yet to reach the final in her career.

“I’m much better now, I’ve rested mentally. But I’m also physically well; I didn’t have any pain while I trained. Now I hope to be able to play the tournaments. I intend to be healthy and play as many matches as possible,” she continued.
“I am missing the field, I am missing competition, and I know it will be very difficult at the beginning, but I’m not afraid. I will go there with confidence and I will see what I can do. The time I spent at home was very nice. It’s always pleasant to be at home and hard to leave. But I’m motivated for what’s next, my mind is there.”

Halep is currently ranked 10th in the world. If she falls down the rankings any further it will be the first time she has exited the world’s top 10 since January 2014. So far in her career she has won 22 WTA titles and has earned more than $37.5M in prize money.

The Canadian Open main draw will get underway on Monday.

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Rusty Rafael Nadal Reacts To Marathon Win At Citi Open

It was a tough day at the office for Nadal who admits that he ‘suffered a bit too much’ during his match in Washington.

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

Top seed Rafael Nadal says he is still experiencing pain in his foot but has vowed to continue playing at the Citi Open after coming through a marathon second-round match.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion required more than three hours to oust America’s Jack Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) in what was a roller coaster encounter. Nadal was forced to recover from a break down in the decider before going on to prevail in the decisive tiebreaker. Winning 70% of his first service points and firing eight aces past his opponent.

“The match wasn’t easy,” Nadal said afterwards. “I started to suffer a little bit too much.”

Sock was the first player the 20-time Grand Slam winner has played since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open back in June. The 35-year-old took a break from the sport in order to rest and recover from a foot injury that sidelined him for 20 days during that period. However, the foot continues to be troublesome for Nadal with him admitting that he felt some pain during his latest match.

“You need matches like this to be fitter after a month without competing. But that’s part of the process, and I know the process,” he said. “I went through all this stuff many times in my career. So it’s something I am not worried about.
“So is about winning these kind of matches. That helps you to be better. Then, if I’m able to improve with my foot, I think the rest of the things [are] going to come step by step.”

Despite the physical problem, the Spaniard was able to draw upon his trademark fighting spirit to see him over the finish line. This week is the first time he has played in the Washington tournament which is categorised as an ATP 500 event.

There will be little time for Nadal to recover from his latest match. On Thursday he is set to play South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in what will be their first tour meeting. Harris, who is seeded 14th in the draw, reached the last 16 after Tennys Sandgren retired from their match during the second set.

“I have been resting enough. Maybe [it] is not about resting, but is the moment to just keep going,” Nadal said. “[It] is the moment to not practise much because I played a three-hour match, so I need to be ready for tomorrow.
“[I will] have a short warm-up tomorrow, try to be ready for the match. I’m going to have a tough opponent in front. Let’s see. Tomorrow’s another day, another opportunity to play in front of this amazing crowd. I want to enjoy the experience again.”

Elsewhere at the tournament two top-five seeds have crashed out. Third seed Alex de Minaur was leading Steve Johnson by a set before losing 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2. Meanwhile, fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov fell 6-2, 7-6(4), to Ilya Ivashka.

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