Australian Open Preview: Rafael Nadal v Alexander Zverev - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Preview: Rafael Nadal v Alexander Zverev

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Rafael Nadal (Zimbio)

Rafael Nadal (Zimbio)

Rafael Nadal will meet Alexander Zverev in the battle of the generations in tomorrow’s third round Australian Open. We are going to investigate this fascinating match-up.

Former world number one vs future world number one. Passion vs hunger. Grand slam winner vs future grand slam winner. This has all the credentials for one of the best matches of this year’s Australian Open. Both men have different styles of play that makes this match fascinating, the spin and agression from Nadal against the big server and grinder in Zverev. It is intriguing to see how the new generation are taking over from the legends of the game and going deep in the major events. Now that Novak Djokovic has been eliminated, it is a chance for the likes of Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem to make their way onto the big stage. Can they use youth over experience though, that is what we will find out when the German meets the 14 time grand slam champion.

Form

So far this season Rafael Nadal has reached the quarterfinals of Brisbane by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov and Mischa Zverev before losing to Milos Raonic. The Spaniard has looked in superious form so far in Melbourne, after comfortably dispatching Florian Mayer and Marcos Baghdatis. So Nadal will bring confidence going into his big clash on Rod Laver Arena tomorrow.

While Alexander Zverev started his season at the Hopman cup in Perth, he lost to Richard Gasquet in his first match before he picked up tough wins against Roger Federer and Dan Evans. So far in the Australian Open it has been a tale of two matches. In his first match he struggled against veteran Robin Haase as he fought back valiantly from 2 sets to 1 to advance. While the second match produced a sensational performance from the tall German as he convincingly beat young American Frances Tiafoe, to set up tomorrow’s big clash.

Previous Meetings

The two players have met once and it was a thrilling contest, it happened in Indian Wells where Zverev missed a shocking volley at the net to give the match to Nadal. It was a match where both players shined and a warning of what Zverev can produce. Nadal won the match 6-7(8) 6-0 7-5 and some of the highlights are below:

What did they have to say?

Rafael Nadal took the opportunity to give praise to his opponent before the match, “He has all the shots: great serve, great forehand, great backhand, everything. He’s a complete player. I need to put a rhythm very, very high to try to don’t let him play in comfortable positions. That’s what I going to try” 

While Alexander Zverev responded to Nadal’s praise, “It’s obviously great to hear from a legend like him that he thinks I can be very good and he thinks I can be good in the future, As well, I know that I still have to work very hard. I still have to, you know, improve a lot to be up there with them.”

Analysis

For Nadal it is about continuing his momentum and continue his level of play. He needs to return well and his base level of play needs to be at a high level. He needs to use psychological advantage and test Zverev just like he did in California. If he can achieve this and win the key points, he can win the match. However as we know from the Pouille match last year, he can get nervous on the key points and will need to forget about these moments.

For Zverev, it’s about serving well and keeping consistency. First serve percentage needs to be high, as this is where he can dictate play. He needs to be physically and mentally strong to compete at the highest level with Nadal. If he can use the pace of the court to his advantage then he can cause an upset similar to what Istomin caused Djokovic. He will need to get rid of those match point demons from Indian wells to be mentally prepared for tomorrow.

Prediction

As well as Zverev is playing, I think Nadal has been playing brilliant tennis at the moment and will dispatch Zverev in four sets. As you know anything is possible in tennis.

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Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos lift their maiden Masters 1000 title as a title in Indian Wells

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Unseeded Nikola Mektic from Croatia and Horacio Zeballos won their first doubles title as a team after beating Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 4-6 6-4 10-3.

Kubot and Melo drew the first blood by getting an early break in the first game, but Mektic and Zeballos broke straight back in the second game. Mektic and Zeballos fended off two break points in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Kubot and Melo went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian team fended off a break point before serving out for the first set in the 10th game.

Mektic and Zeballos were not able to convert any of their two break points in the fourth game of the second set, but they held their service games easily and broke serve in the 10th game on the deciding point forcing the match to the decisive Match tie-break. Mektic and Zeballos cruised through to winning the tie-break 10-3 clinching their maiden doubles title as a team. Zeballos and Mektic won 40 % of their return points.

Earlier this week Mektic and Zeballos saved two match points in a match tie-break against this year’s Australian Open Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut before beating Colombian doubles specialists Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the quarter finals and Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the semifinal.

“It’s unbelievable. Being in the big press conference, it’s great. I have never been in this room. I love it”,said Zeballos in the post match press conference.

“Oh my God, we won Indian Wells. We are a great team. We can beat anyone. Especially on this tournament where the difference is a few balls. A few points will decide who is going to win. Of course you are not expecting to win, but we are going into every match confident that we can win, so we just went step by step and it happened”, said Mektic.

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Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot beat Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini to reach the Indian Wells doubles final

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Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Poland’s Lukasz Kubot secured their spot in the final of the doubles tournament of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after beating singles world number 1 player Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 10-6 in the super tie-break.

Melo and Kubot will face Horacio Zeballos and Nikola Mektic, who beat Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3). Melo and Kubot have played together since 2017, while Zeballos and Mektic are teaming up for their second time in their careers.

In the first set Kubot and Melo earned an immediate break in the first game in the first game. Djokovic and Fognini broke back in the 10th game at 15 to draw level to 5-5. Kubot and Melo came back from 1-4 down to win the tie-break 7-5. Djokovic and Fognini broke twice in the first and fifth games to clinch the second set 6-2. Kubot and Melo took the 10-6 edge in the super tie-break.

Djokovic and Fognini thrilled the crowd with their spectacular tennis, but doubles specialists won the most crucial points.

“I think the fact we played together for a long time, this makes a difference. We were aggressive in important moments. We do what we have to do and most of the time for us, it pays off. I am very happy with this, so let’s go forward for tomorrow to the finals”, said Melo.

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Gael Monfils In Doubt For Miami Masters

The top 20 player has once again been hit by injury woes following a successful start to 2019.

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Gael Monfils (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

France’s top ranked male player is unsure if he will be able to play in next week’s Miami Masters after being forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Gael Monfils pulled out of his quarter-final clash with Dominic Thiem due to a problem with his Achilles. During a press conference, the world No.19 confirmed that he has inflammation in his left Achilles after undergoing a scan. An issue that has been bothering Monfils over the past couple of days.

“I felt my left Achilles a little bit. Day after day I have been treating it with my team. And last night (Wednesday) after my match, it was actually not so good.” Monfils told reporters in Indian Wells yesterday.
“I tried a little jog in the morning, and I couldn’t really actually push on it.”
“I had an ultrasound with the doctor here (in Indian Wells), and we could see, like, a big inflammation.” He added.

Whilst not a severe injury, it is in unclear as to how long the recovery process will be. Raising the chances of Monfils skipping the Miami tournament, which relocates to the Hard Rock Stadium this year. He has already missed the past two editions of the Masters 1000 event. In 2017 he was sidelined by an ankle injury, followed by a back issue in 2018.

“It depends how fast I will heal. Definitely try the other treatment tonight.” He said.
“I will take it really easy with everything and then see how I feel, if I feel that I can play Miami or not.
“So far it’s tough to say how long, but I will stay positive and hope in a couple days I’ll be fine.”

The setback comes after what has been a solid start to the season for the Frenchman. His win-loss record for 2019 currently stands at 14-4. At the Rotterdam Open Monfils won the eighth title in his career and only the second at an ATP 500 event. He also reached the semi-finals of tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai.

“Sometime, some people are more fragile. And I guess I’m kind of fragile with some parts of my body.” The 32-year-old admits. “That’s why I always try new routines.”
“I guess I need to stay tough mentally, because it’s never easy. But I have been through that. I have no fear, I know, for this one (injury.”

As a result of his withdrawal, Thiem will play Milos Raonic in the semi-finals at Indian Wells on Friday.

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