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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Rafael Nadal Looking For More Accuracy After Cruising Past Delbonis

Rafael Nadal has explained where he needs to improve as he continued to impress on his march to the Australian Open third round.

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Rafael Nadal (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal is looking to be more accurate on break points despite cruising past Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-6(4) 6-1 at the Australian Open. 

 

The Spaniard hit 33 winners and broke Delbonis on three occasions as he produced a dominant display to reach the last 32 in Melbourne.

However even though there were many positives for Nadal, the 31 year-old only managed to convert 15% of his break point opportunities which could be concerning heading into the second week.

Speaking after his win today, Nadal told the media that he is constantly looking to be better and will hope to address the issue in the near future, “Well, I think I can do lot of things better,” Nadal claimed.

“I can do things better because of myself. I need to play better. Especially I need to convert the breakpoints. I was not able to check the statistics, but when you are not able to convert no one breakpoint after I don’t know how many chance, of course you are in trouble.

“I have been practicing a little bit better everyday. Of course, on the match situation, is a little bit different. I am confident that I going to play better because every day in the third set I have been able to show a good level of tennis. I need to do it before the next time.”

Obviously there is a cause for concern that Nadal will need a better break point conversion rate in time for the later rounds but it shows how great a champion Nadal is when he sees areas like this for a need to improve.

The 2009 champion will look to improve his return in time for his next match on Saturday when he plays 27th seed and Compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

It is a match, Nadal will look to make a statement in ahead of the second week as he looks to make a third final in four years.

Should the Spaniard reach the second week, he could face Nick Kyrgios at the start of the week and the Australian once again showed his public disdain for Nadal by mocking his serve in his four set win over Gilles Simon.

https://twitter.com/doublefault28/status/1220272894183444480

When asked about it in his press conference, the 19-time grand slam champion saw the funny side, “I really don’t care. I am here to play tennis. Honestly, I don’t care at all. If was funny, good. That’s it.”

Should Nadal and Kyrgios face each other it will be the first time since the Spaniard won a high-quality affair at Wimbledon last year in four sets.

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Alexander Zverev Warns Social Media Adding More Pressure To ‘Next Gen’ Than Ever Before

The German star discusses the downside to technology and the effect it has on his fellow players.

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Alexander Zverev is very much relishing being under the radar in the men’s draw at this year’s Australian Open.

 

After a roller-coaster 2019, the German started off 2020 by losing all of his singles matches at the ATP Cup. Although, it appears that Zverev is once again gaining in momentum at Melbourne Park, where he is yet to go beyond the fourth round. In his latest match he ousted Egor Gerasimov 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5. Impressively winning 82% of his service points to secure a place in the last 32 on Saturday.

“I just think there’s more young guys that are playing better. The attention is going towards them, as well, a little bit.” Zverev said during his press conference.
“It’s a nice feeling for me, but I’m through to the third round, I’m happy about that. We’ll see how the tournament goes.”

A former winner of the prestigious ATP Finals, the 22-year-old had been tipped by many as one of the future stars of the men’s game. Naming him as one of the successors to the prestigious Big Four (including Andy Murray). He is currently the only active player outside of the quartet to have won three Masters 1000 trophies on the tour.

It hasn’t always been a smooth journey on the tour for Zverev, who first broke into the world’s top three in November 2017. With his best grand slam performance to date being to the quarter-finals of the French Open twice, some leading figures have been critical. Boris Becker, who has a close partnership with the world No.7, once said that he was ‘too dimensional’ and failed to improve his game over a 18-month period.

As for the inability of him and his Next Gen rivals to have a major breakthrough in a grand slam, Zverev admits that it is hard to escape from the pressure at times. When asked to draw parallels between him and past players in a similar situation, the German points out the growing negative impact of social media.

“To read what’s going on, to read the press, something like that, you had to buy a newspaper, go on the laptop and search for it. Now you open up Instagram, there’s 5 million people that have an opinion about you all of a sudden.” Zverev explained.
“I think that has changed in that regard. It’s maybe more difficult for us (the Next Gen) now.”

Throughout the Australian Open, Zverev has vowed to minimise the time he spends on social media. An approach that has been taken by others. Stefanos Tsitsipas to have taken a break from the online world in the past.

“Do I think is it more difficult for us than 20 years ago? Yes, maybe, because of the social media, mobile phones, of the opinions that everybody can spread out on the Internet.” Said Zverev.
“Even though when people say they don’t care, they still read it. In the back of their mind, they’re aware of it. So I think that is a massive difference.”

As for toppling Federer and Co in the future, Zverev believes it will be a joint effort. Saying that once one player claims a major title, it will spark a domino effect among the younger players on the tour.

“I think it started with Tsitsipas getting to the semifinals here (at the Australian Open). Then Medvedev got to the (US Open) final. I’ve made two (French Open) quarterfinals. I think we help each other.” He said.
“Even though maybe some of us don’t want to admit it because we have all kinds of personal relationships that we have with each other, but once one of us wins it, it’s going to be good for the others, as well.”

Zverev will play Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

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Simona Halep Rallies To 90th Grand Slam Win At Australian Open

The world No.4 has achieved a new milestone at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

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Simona Halep’s quest for a first Australian Open title is gaining momentum after she strolled into the third round with a solid 77-minute victory at Melbourne Park.

 

The 2018 runner-up overcame some late resistance en route to her 6-2, 6-4, win over British qualifier Harriet Dart. A world No.172 player who was making her main draw debut at the tournament. Separated by 162 places in the rankings, the disparity between the two players was noticeable. Dart produced glimmers of her talent, but was undone by an array of unforced errors. Which amounted to 34 in total. Enabling Halep to dictate proceedings throughout the majority of the match.

“I like to play under pressure. It is more fun and exciting. But I would prefer to finish the matches when I have the chance to.” Halep said during her on-court interview.

Under the guidance of Darren Cahill once again, the latest performance saw the former world No.1 win 67% of her first service points and break Dart five times in total. However, it was a far from a perfect match with the Romanian’s unforced error count overshadowing her winners at 23 to 14.

“It’s very nice to have him back. It gives me confidence and I’m really happy about my team.” She commented on her reunion with Cahill.

Both sets of Halep’s latest encounter featured a similar pattern of her dismantling the fragile serve on her opponent. During the opener, the two-time grand slam champion broke three consecutive times en route to clinching a 6-2 lead.

It was a much more testing time in the second frame with the underdog staging a last-minute fight back. Leading by a set and 5-2, Halep looked to be on course for a one-sided victory. However, Dart wasn’t finished yet. The underdog produced her best tennis to retrieve one of the breaks to the annoyance of a growlingly frustrated Halep. Who made glares towards her camp in the crowd. Despite the scare, it was not enough to derail the world No.4. On her fourth match point Halep prevailed with the help of a forehand shot from her opponent landing beyond the baseline.

“It was a little bit dangerous before I lost my focus a little bit at the end. She started to play very well, so it was more difficult for me to hold. But I’m happy I went through it.” Halep reflected after.

Thursday’s victory hands the Romanian her 90th main draw win at a grand slam level and 21st at the Australian Open. Improving her overall record of wins in the second round of grand slam tournaments to 20-7. Halep is the only player to have had a top four seeding at the Australian Open every year since 2016.

Awaiting the 28-year-old in the next round will be either 2019 semi-finalist Danielle Collins or Yania Putintseva. She hasn’t played Collins on the tour since 2014 and is yet to face Putintseva.

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