Rafa Nadal wins stunning encounter against Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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Rafa Nadal wins stunning encounter against Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells

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Rafa Nadal won one of those matches he used to win in his great years by defeating Alexander Zverev 6-7, 6-0, 7-5. The match was the confirmation of various factors: on the one hand, that Nadal is on a whole new level confidence-wise and, on the other, that Alexander Zverev has the tennis world at his feet.

 

Before the clash Nadal claimed that the German will one day be the number one player on the planet and, on the evidence of their encounter in the BNP Paribas Open fourth round, the Majorcan wasn’t merely feeding his opponent’s ego.

Zverev took the first break of the match at 2-2 in the first set with a blistering cross court backhand, a shot that is right up there with anyone’s on tour. Another stat worth mentioning in this match is that, on average, Zverev’s second serve was coming down at a similar pace to Nadal’s first, hence the Spaniard’s problems to hold on to his serve. He did manage to strike back in the opening set at 5-4 down when Zverev dragged a backhand wide but the German took the tiebreak 10-8 after Nadal failed to close it out on serve at 8-7. The first set in itself had taken a whopping one hour and nine minutes.

In the second set, Nadal came out roaring, playing some stunning tennis from the back but also showing an almost flawless touch at the net every time he ghosted in. After locking a double break to go 3-0 up, Zverev decided he would save up energy for the final set, in what was a demonstration of his maturity and tennis knowledge. The set was a whitewash as Nadal claimed his second bagel of the week.

Zverev woke up from his hibernation right at the start of the third set and showed an innate talent to switch his top level back on when he wants to, and he broke Nadal to go 2-0 up. The young German raced away to a 5-3 lead but missed a straightforward volley on match point after setting up the entire rally perfectly. This would prove to be a turning point for both players as Zverev never managed to put it behind him and Nadal sucked away his confidence to wrap up the final set 7-5 to record one of those wins that kickstart a season. The tennis on display was of the highest level and for the first time in a long period, Nadal managed to find a way to the finish line like he did on so many occasions throughout his career.

John Isner or Kei Nishikori will be next to test this new found confidence in the quarter finals.

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Novak Djokovic’s ATP Player Council Claim ‘Utter Nonsense’

A member of the player-run group has said a recent comment made by the world No.1 over a rule change was incorrect.

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Austrian tennis veteran Jurgen Melzer has hit back at Novak Djokovic over comments he made during the ATP Finals about his ineligibility to challenge for a seat on the Players Council.

 

Djokovic, who was president of the council until this summer, says he had been excluded from the elections due to a recent change in the rules. The world No.1 stepped down from his position to form the Professional Tennis Players Association. A separate body that campaigns for players to have a greater say when it comes to decision making. Although the PTPA has been accused of trying to divide the sport with the council previously urging their peers to not join.

Speaking to reporters from London last month, the 17-time Grand Slam winner says that his involvement in the union meant that he was not allowed to seek re-election following a new rule change that was recently voted on. The rule prohibits a player from joining if they are a member of another organisation.

“I do not see conflict of any kind in being part of the PTPA and the ATP Council. I didn’t see this back in August when the PTPA was founded and I don’t see it now. That is why I accepted the nomination,” Djokovic commented.
“I have not been approached by anybody from the ATP on this matter.”|

Djokovic has said he didn’t personally enter the race to rejoin the ATP Council and only entered after he was nominated by fellow players. Vasek Pospisil, who is the co-founder of the PTPA, was also in the same situation.

Responding to the claims, Melzer has branded them as incorrect by saying that the rule has actually been in place for more than a decade. The 39-year-old is a current member of the council.

“The PTPA is a completely different matter. Djokovic is talking about the fact that some regulation has now been made, overnight, that nobody from the PTPA is allowed to participate in the council. This is utter nonsense,” he said.
“These statutes have been around since 2006. And it’s also logical: if you have two associations, it is clear that you cannot be part of both, that’s common sense.
“I am surprised that Djokovic is so surprised now. And that he thinks that it developed against him overnight.”

There hasn’t been any reply from Djokovic to Melzer’s comments. The world No.1 previously said he hopes the two groups would be able to work together in the future but now admits that he is looking at alternatives. Although he gave no mention as to what they may be.

“This rule is a strong message from the ATP that they don’t want the PTPA at all or any player involved. It’s very clear.” He said.
“It’s unfortunate to see the ATP position is such as the rule they have voted on.‘
“Now we know where we stand and now we have to consider other strategic positions, and our next move in a different way.”

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REPORT: Australian Open Gets New Start Date Amid Huge Financial Cost

It is understood that the first Grand Slam of 2021 could cost as much as AUS$100 million.

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The 2021 Australian Open will take place three weeks later than planned with players being tested for COVID-19 five times during their self-quarantine period, according to multiple sources.

 

Newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained a letter from Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley which outlines plans for the upcoming Grand Slam tournament that will now start on February 8th. Upon arrival in the country players will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine period but will still be allowed to leave their hotel room up to five hours each day within the ‘bio secure bubble.’ They will only be allowed to train if they test negative on the second day of isolation and it is understood that they can only practice with one coach at a time.

The five COVID-19 tests are set to take place on day one, three, seven, 10 and 14. Charter flights to Australia will take place between January 15-17 but the quarantine period will not begin until the last player arrives.

“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on February 8,” the letter from Tiley reads.

Even more significant is that Tennis Australia is reportedly set to pay for charter flights, player and entourage quarantine costs, meals and accommodation. A somewhat bold move when it was reported on the same day that the organisation confirmed that it will take them five years to recover from the pandemic and that they are using their reserves at present.

“We also expect that we will use the majority of our reserves in maintaining funding to the sport and playing group,” Tiley said in comments published by The Australian newspaper.
“As a result of these costs we are exploring options for a line of credit and/or a loan which will allow us to maintain cash flow at critical times and support us in the recovery from the impacts of the pandemic once access to government subsidies have ended.
“We believe that recovery from the pandemic will take up to five years.”

It is understood that the delayed Grand Slam with all the bubble protocols being implemented could cost up to AUS$100 million which is $20 million more than Tennis Australia’s reserves that they have generated in recent years. According to financial records, their surplus for the year to June 30 was almost cut in two to $5.4 million compared to $10.7M in profit the year prior.

Despite the financial difficulties, Tiley says there will be no impact on the prize money pool awarded at the Australian Open but it will be adjusted in some rounds.

“(the) full $71 million prize money and (we) are working with the tours on redistribution with large increases to the early rounds and a likely first round purse of $100k.” An extract from Tiley’s letter reads.

There are also doubts about if qualifying for the Australian Open will go ahead or not. Tiley is reported as saying that the main draw of the event shouldn’t start on February 1st because it ‘would have been unfair to players who may get infected during quarantine.’ That week would be the week the qualifying tournaments get played.

Outside of their hotels, players will only be allowed to travel to Melbourne Park or the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.

Tennis Australia or the local government of Victoria are yet to publicly comment on the leaked plans.

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Adaptability And Strategy Key For Rafael Nadal’s Success, Says Coach

Moya believes the approach taken by the king of clay makes him differnt from others.

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Rafael Nadal’s ability to strategise his shot-making gives him a competitive edge but that approach is starting to die out in professional tennis, according to his coach Carlos Moya.

 

Moya, who is a former world No.1 player himself, believes his compatriot has managed to achieve so much success on the court due to how he handles different scenarios during a match. This season Nadal drew level for most Grand Slam titles won by a male player at 20 after triumphing at the French Open. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 27-7 and reached the quarter-finals or better at every tournament he played in which helped him secure the year-end No.2 spot behind Novak Djokovic.

“There is always room for strategy. Rafa is a good example of this because he has a wide range of possibilities within his game and that is to be appreciated when building the points strategically,” Moya told Libertas Digital.
“At a general level, we (Nadal’s team) try to adapt to the surfaces and conditions that we face in each tournament. If you watch a Rafa match in London, you can see big differences from what he did a month before at Roland Garros.”

Although Nadal’s mentor admits that changes in the sport over recent years has made the process of strategising rallies less important due to the length of rallies decreasing. Leaving players with less time to plan their shots. However, Moya believes his team still has an advantage.

“It is true that this sense of adaptability and strategy is being lost. The players hit harder each time, the points last less and depending on the opponent you play against, you hardly have room for strategy during the point,” he said.
“The good thing is that Rafa does continue to do it and it is something that makes him different from the rest. He has different plans as the game progresses and he can read very well what to do during the clash. Knowing how to read what happens in the middle of the game, not afterwards, is what differentiates the very good from the rest.”

According to data published by the ATP on October 5th, Nadal won 60% (652/1092) of rallies that lasted between five and eight over a two-year period (2018-2020). The highest among all players on the men’s tour. He also won 55% (412/745) of rallies that lasted longer than nine shots during the same period which was the fifth best on Tour.

Moya is currently with Nadal training during the off-season. They will start the 2021 season in Australia where the start dates of the tournaments are still up in the air. Tennis Australia is currently in negotiations with the Victorian government and has said a plan will be finalised ‘very soon.’ Moya admits the uncertainty has made the usual planning for the season ahead tough.

“These are changes that we are getting to know and of which we are more or less up to date, but with this COVID, at the moment, not many plans can be made,” he explains.
“Right now what we know is that, to this day, you cannot go to Australia until January and for that and other reasons there are many things in the air. We still do not even know what the evolution of the virus will be and that is why we must be vigilant and open to any type of event.”

Moya has been a member of Nadal’s coaching team since December 2016.

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