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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Stan Wawrinka Explains ATP Cup Absence And Olympics Situation Ahead Of Basel

Stan Wawrinka has explained why his Olympic dream is in doubt as he prepares to start his campaign in Basel.

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Stan Wawrinka (@usopen - Twitter)

Stan Wawrinka has explained why he is absent from the ATP Cup line-up as he begins his campaign in Basel on Wednesday. 

 

The three-time grand slam champion enters his home tournament in Basel having lost a three set final to a resurgent Andy Murray in Antwerp.

Despite the loss Wawrinka has been on a momentum swing himself having reached the US Open and Roland Garros quarter-finals this season.

Although this year has been a success, the Swiss’ 2020 calendar remains a mystery having been absent from Switzerland’s team for the ATP Cup next year.

Speaking to puntodebreak.com, Wawrinka explained his decision to not participate in the cup competition in January as well as questions over his Olympic eligibility, “I have a contract with the Doha tournament, which takes place at the same time as the ATP Cup,” Wawrinka explained.

“I would like to play it (Olympics). The desire is there, but now I have to adjust my calendar for 2020 with my team. I don’t know what criteria are required to get a Wild Card.” 

The 34 year-old is not the only one requiring a wildcard to enter the Olympics with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori amongst others relying on the same rule.

Meanwhile Wawrinka is preparing for his first match in Basel, where he doesn’t have the best record having never reached the final.

A first round match against Pablo Cuevas awaits on Wednesday and he admitted his tension when performing in front of a home crowd,“In Basel I have always been a little tense, too hesitant,” he admitted.

“Correcting that and winning my first round match against Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday depends on me. It is not the tournament that suits my style of play and that is why, although I have played some good matches here, I do not have such a good performance.”

If Wawrinka wants to reach his maiden Swiss Indoors final, he will potentially have to go through Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

That dream last eight match is a long way away though as Wawrinka will have to go through Pablo Cuevas and the winner of Frances Tiafoe against Dan Evans.

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‘I Want Back In’ – Nick Kyrgios Returns To Davis Cup With Key Backing From Captain Hewitt

Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt explains why the fiery player is back in the team after a 18-month absence.

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Nick Kyrgios (image via www.twitter.com/usopen)

Nick Kyrgios’ past disagreements with Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has seemingly been resolved after the Australian was included in this year’s nomination for the finals in November.

 

The former top 20 player haven’t featured in the team tournament since February 2018. His absence has been partly due to a spat with his team captain, as well as injury. Earlier this year Kyrgios took a swipe at Hewitt’s support for compatriot Alex de Minaur in a social media post that he later deleted. He was then not included in Australia’s clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina after failing to meet ‘cultural standards.’

Whilst the partnership hasn’t always been perfect, the two have found a mutual agreement. It started earlier this year when Kyrgios sent a message to Hewitt saying that he wanted to return back to the Davis Cup. That paved the way for discussions to take place in Indian Wells as they resolved their differences.

“I got a message (from him) saying ‘mate, I want to get back in the team’,” Hewitt told reporters on Tuesday. “The great thing is, he has a great relationship with all the players as well. It’s kind of about him wanting to be a part of the team and do the right things day in day out.’
“For me, I’d much rather have him on my team.”

Kyrgios is currently serving a six-month probation concerning his behaviour on the ATP Tour. During that period, if he commits any more major offences he faces the prospect of being banned for 16 weeks and a $25,000 fine. The penalty was issued following a string of offences he conducted in the Cincinnati Open in August, which resulted in him being hit with a $113,000 bill.

The 24-year-old is renowned for his fiery temperament on the tour, as well as his string of wins over high-profile players such as Novak Djokovic. Hewitt has insisted that Kyrgios’ recent antics shouldn’t exclude him from the Davis Cup.

“Nick’s a different character and I understand that and we’re not always going to put everybody in the same box.” He explains.
“You’ve got to deal with different personalities in all kind of sports, and I feel like I know Nick as well as anyone.
“I feel like on the Davis Cup court he’s done everything I’ve need in the past whenever he’s been a part of the team. He hasn’t put a foot wrong, he’s out there picking up balls, half coaching and encouraging other players.
“There’s a lot of things he does in a team environment that I actually think we’ll see the best of him.”

Kyrgios has represented his country in nine Davis Cup ties since 2013. Winning nine out of 15 matches played. In 2017 he played in Australia’s semi-final clash with Belgium, which they lost 3-2.

Few can dispute the talent of the current world No.30, however, he has recently missed a series of tournaments due to a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, Hewitt believes his player will be back to full fitness in time for the team competition.

“That has even been the sacrifice over the last couple of weeks, pulling out of the tournaments as well,” Hewitt said.
“After the Laver Cup he did have a shoulder-collar bone slight injury, which he’s pretty much over now, but he had to take a few weeks out, and he felt like if he kept playing that as going to jeopardise his chances of playing Davis Cup.
“He called me at the time about that and we thought that was the best situation. He comes in a little bit underdone, but fortunately he’s a guy that can go out there and light it up when he needs to.
“With this format there’s a lot of unknowns as well, but he’s the kind of guy this format will really suit.”

The Davis Cup finals will take place in Madrid between November 10-17. Australia has been drawn in Group D with Belgium and Colombia. Besides Kyrgios, de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, John Millman and doubles specialist John Peers have also been selected.

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Roger Federer Hails Andy Murray’s Comeback Triumph

The Swiss maestro shares his thoughts about the return of one of his rivals.

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20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has said it is ‘great’ to see former world No.1 Andy Murray returning back to winning ways after the Brit ended his two-year title drought on Sunday.

 

Murray battled back from a set down to defeat Stan Wawrinka in the final of the European Open in Antwerp. The tournament was only the seventh singles draw he has played since undergoing a second hip operation. He has been troubled by the injury since 2017 and even admitted earlier this year that he was contemplating retiring from the sport due to persistent pain. Murray now plays with a metal rod in his hip joint

“Andy’s achievement was great,” Federer told reporters in Basel on Monday.
“I was a little bit torn, since he beat Stan (Wawrinka) in the final, but it was a great way for him to come back.”

Federer has paid tribute to Murray’s perseverance throughout his return to competitive tennis. The Brit started his comeback in June by playing only in doubles tournaments before making the switch to singles in August at the Winston Salem Open. He has now won nine out of his past 12 matches.

“He’s been playing to try and get close to his old level,” the world No.3 commented.
“It’s nice to see Andy healthy again. I remember in the locker room of the Australian Open.’
“It was very confusing for him and for all of us. I’m extremely happy for him.”

The two have clashed 25 times on the ATP Tour since 2005. It is Federer who leads their head-to-head 14-11 and has won their five most recent meetings. However, it is their encounter in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games that he particularly remembers.

“Last time I didn’t feel I had the crowd fully behind me was probably back in 2012 in London at the Olympics against Murray.“ He said.

In that encounter it was Murray who prevailed after losing to his Swiss rival just weeks beforehand in the Wimbledon final. Murray is the only man in history to win two consecutive Olympic men’s singles titles.

Federer is currently competing in the Swiss Indoors, where he is bidding to win a record 10th title. He kicked-off his campaign on Saturday with an emphatic straight-sets win over Peter Gojowczyk. The match was Federer’s 1500th on the tour.

In the second round, Federer will play either Dusan Lajovic and Radu Albot.

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