Rafael Nadal Marks 1000th Match With Comeback Win Over Philipp Kohlschreiber - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Marks 1000th Match With Comeback Win Over Philipp Kohlschreiber

Joshua Coase

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Rafael Nadal Celebrates Victory

Rafael Nadal recovered from being bagelled in the first set to battle past Philipp Kohlschreiber 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a captivating contest at the Miami Open as the Spaniard competed in the 1000th match of his professional career.

 

Kohlschreiber made an emphatic start and shocked the Stadium Court crowd as he really brought the heat to Nadal, taking the opening set 6-0 after winning 67% of return points on Nadal’s first serve and 60% on his second. After gaining some confidence with service holds to get involved in the match at 2-2 in the second, Nadal took control as he reeled off seven games in a row, only allowing the German to win two points on his own serve in the second set. The fifth seed took that momentum into the final set and gained an early break before holding serve with ease throughout to reach the last 16.

Nadal, seeded five for this event, began his campaign here with a straight sets win over Dudi Sela, meanwhile his opponent, Kohlschreiber, came through a tough battle with American Taylor Fritz, recovering from a double break down to come through in a final set tiebreak. The odds were heavily stacked against the German in this, their 15th meeting, with Nadal leading their head to head 13-1. The German was also enduring a tough 28 losing streak against top 10 players as he stepped out onto the Stadium Court in Miami. After a promising start, the world number 31 could not maintain his level when it mattered most in the contest.

Kohlschreiber came out firing from the get-go, earning himself and immediate break point opportunity. The 26th seed capitalised by striking a return of serve winner cross court on the backhand side to make the perfect start. Nadal looked to respond as he worked his way to two break back points, but the 26th seed remained defiant and held to take a 2-0 lead.

Nadal was under pressure once more in his second service game as his opponent continued to really go after his shots on the forehand side, taking time away from the fifth seed. After squandering a game point, the Spaniard was pushed to face another break point and he cracked, going long with a defensive forehand to fall even further behind.

The crowd were left stunned as Kohlschreiber continued to ask the question with his returns of serve in the fifth game. Aggressive play from the German coupled with very tentative shanks off the forehand wing from Nadal saw the Spaniard relinquish serve once again.

The 26th seed had little trouble closing out the first set. The German missed the first set point as he attempted a very ambitious drop shot, but the first serve found the mark on the second chance. First set Kohlschreiber 6-0 after 25 minutes, the first bagel set that Nadal had lost since the 2015 Australian Open (l. Berdych).

In the second set the Spaniard made a much more encouraging start. The four time runner-up here in Miami held to win his first game of the match, tested Kohlschreiber by pushing him to 30-30 on the German’s serve and after missing out on gettingthe break he then held his own serve to love to move 2-1 ahead.

In the following game Nadal had a golden chance to earn his first break of the match as his opponent began to miss on the forehand side to go break point down. The Spaniard then played a far too tentative point, it was almost as if he was waiting for the German to miss after the fifth seed hit three balls up the middle of the court, before the 26th seed unleashed a forehand cross court winner. After surviving that scare, the world number 31 came through his most testing service game of the match to level the score in the second set once more.

In the sixth game the pressure finally told on the Kohlschreiber serve. Two backhand misses into the net from the 26th seed handed the break of serve which Nadal had been so desperate to secure. The Spaniard was eager to maintain his momentum and raced through his next service game before causing his opponent more anguish in the next game as he broke the German once again to seal the second set 6-2 after 37 minutes.

One of the key factors which helped Nadal turn that set in his favour was his drastic improvement on serve. Having only won 33% of points behind his first serve and 40% behind his second in the first set, the Spaniard improved those numbers drastically, winning 92% of points on the first serve and 80% on the second. The fifth seed did not give his opponent a look in on serve and it was also recognisable that Kohlschreiber’s form had taken a dip following a faultless first set.

Moving into the deciding set Nadal took complete control as Kohlschreiber’s bubble appeared to have burst. The German blew two chances to hold and despite saving one break point with a well executed backhand down the line winner, the 26th seed could not save another as he swiftly fell 3-0 behind.

The German asked the question of Nadal by holding serve throughout the remainder of the contest, but the fifth seed was not going to drop serve as he marched towards victory. The Spaniard held serve to love in the final game to complete an excellent comeback 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 38 minutes. Next up for the former finalist, Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, after he took out Guido Pella in straight sets to reach the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Denis Shapovalov gets revenge win over Nadal to reach quarterfinals in Rome

The Canadian avenged a loss he suffered last year by beating the king of clay in the eternal city.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Denis Shapovalov booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after beating the world number four Rafael Nadal in three tight sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes on Pista Centrale.

 

The Canadian fired 35 winners and served 13 aces while the Spaniard hit 34 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth.

“It’s definitely incredible to me to beat him. Having match points against him last year was kind of a hurtful feeling,” said Shapovalov who lost to the Spaniard at the same tournament 12 months ago. “Coming back here this year, I definitely remember that match. Obviously great tennis, but that one really hurt. Happy to get the win this time around”.

It was the Spaniard with the better start to the match, putting pressure right away on the world number 16 in the second game of the match and it took Shapovalov almost 10 minutes to save three breakpoints and hold serve.

At 2-1 Nadal kept pushing and struck setting up two breakpoints with his ferocious forehand and then broke the Toronto native with a solid backhand down the line winner.

After consolidating the break the world number four was hungry for more and again with his powerful forehand set up more break opportunities and broke again to take a 5-1 lead and served out the first set.

Shapovalov once again faced three breakpoints in the opening game of the second set but managed to save all of them and was able to hold serve. In the following game he broke Nadal to love for the early 2-0 lead.

He was able to consolidate the break but at 4-3 the Spaniard fought back and managed to break back to go back on serve. However, the Canadian at 6-5 was able to get the crucial break to take the second set and send the match to a third.

Nadal responded right away breaking the Canadian in the first game of the third set but the following game Shapovalov set up three breakpoints with a perfectly timed forehand winner.

He broke back the following point and at 3-2 Nadal struggled with his serve and double faulted to give the world number 16 a 4-2 lead as it seemed he was struggling with an injury.

After running down a ball he was seen hunched over at the towel box and was almost limping after points and wincing before serving or returning serve.

At 5-2 with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match and in pain, Shapovalov had three chances to seal the win and it was third time lucky as Nadal last shot went out.

I was trying to change something, he was completely outplaying me and I was hanging in there and I was really happy to turn it around,” said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov will next face Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Friday. In their last meeting the Norweigan was able to come out with the win when they played in the Geneva Open final last summer.

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After Multiple Surgeries, Comeback Kid Stan Wawrinka Books Djokovic Showdown In Rome

In only his third tournament of the year, 37-year-old Wawrinka admits the upcoming clash will be ‘really difficult’ but he is willing to give it his best shot.

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Image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia/

Until now 15 months have passed since Stan Wawrinka last experienced the feeling of recording back-to-back wins in a tournament of any sort.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined from the sport for a year due a foot injury which ended up requiring two surgeries. The first was done in March last year before he underwent another procedure in June. The surgeries occurred just four years after he underwent two other operations on his left knee. Despite the physical problems and frustration, the Swiss isn’t giving up on his career just yet and is proving why at this week’s Italian Open.

A day after knocking out 14th seed Reilly Opelka, Wawrinka battled on court for almost three hours to oust Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, in front of a highly animated crowd. The rollercoaster battle saw him fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set. Then four match points came and went before he finally prevailed. Booking his place in the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Paris 2020.

“It’s helping me to keep doing what I love. Tennis is a passion. The crowd, the support, the atmosphere, these courts is the reason why after two surgeries and one year out (of the Tour) I’m still playing tennis at 37. To live those moments as much as I can and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka told atptour.com following his win over Djere.

At 361st in the world, Wawrinka has become the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round of a Masters event since Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. In Rome specifically, he is the lowest-ranked third round player since Carrado Borroni in 1995.

The reward is a clash with world No.1 Novak Djokovic in what will be a true test for Wawrinka. The two have an extensive rivalry after playing each other on the Tour 25 times before, including the finals of the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open. Djokovic currently leads their head-to-head 19-6 with their last meeting taking place in 2019.

“It’s always special to play against him,” Wawrinka said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner. “As I’ve said many times I’m not where I want to be yet with my game and fitness level. I need those matches.’
“To have a chance to play against the best player (in the ATP rankings) it’s going to be really difficult for me because I think I’m not ready to compete at that level. (But) it’s what I need. I need those challenges and push myself as much as I can to keep improving.”

Wawrinka’s win over Djere is his 535th on the ATP Tour and his 24th at the Italian Masters.

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