Rafael Nadal Overcomes Fernando Verdasco Test To Set Up Federer Clash - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Overcomes Fernando Verdasco Test To Set Up Federer Clash

Joshua Coase

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Rafael Nadal. Photo: zimbio.com

Rafael Nadal safely made his way through to the fourth round in Indian Wells after a hard fought 6-3, 7-5 victory over fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the heat of the day in the California desert.

 

The opening half of the first set was highly competitive but a break down on serve led to a loss of confidence for Verdasco as the first set ran away from him. Nadal squandered an early break advantage in the second set, but seven double faults in all and only managing to win three of 13 points on second serve came back to bite his opponent late on in the contest.

The two Spaniards have shared many great battles in the past and met for a 19th time, the second year in a row at this event. Nadal won that last encounter 6-0, 7-6(9), but lost to his compatriot for only the third time when they met prior to that at the Australian Open.

Both players looked more than up for the fight and started off strongly on serve, with Verdasco getting pushed to deuce once on serve being the only test for the servers in the opening six games.

Nadal raised his level in the eighth game after winning a crucial opening point following a superb inside out forehand cross court which Verdasco could not retrieve. A couple of unforced errors from the world number 29 and a scintillating backhand down the line winner from the 14-time Grand Slam champion secured a break to love and put Nadal in the driving seat.

That streak of points was part of a run which saw Nadal win 12 of the last 13 points in the set to seal it 6-3 with just over half an hour played.

It appeared as though Verdasco was fading away and struggling in the heat as the first set rather petered out, but the 33-year-old responded. After holding serve, the former top-10 player worked his way back to 30-30, earning his first real look at attempting to break Nadal’s serve. After the world number 29 went for an ambitious forehand winner, which went well long, his opponent was stung into action, holding to level at a game apiece.

After working hard to make an impact early in the set, Verdasco failed to take advantage of his game points on serve, allowing Nadal to move to break point. An untimely fourth double fault handed the fifth seed a break of serve and a significant advantage in the match.

With the lead in hand the Spanish number one threw in a surprisingly poor service game, suddenly making countless unforced errors as he dropped serve to love to relinquish the break. The mistakes continued from the former champion in the next game as the 26th seed made it eight points in a row, taking a 3-2 lead.

Nadal had to come through another test on serve in the eighth game down 15-30 and was pushed to deuce but managed to survive to keep himself in the second set. After missing an opportunity to break the Verdasco serve in the following game, the fifth seed got what he desired in game eleven after another ill-timed double fault from the 33-year-old to hand the former champion the chance to serve for the match.

Despite only winning 70% of points behind his first serve in this set compared to 94% in the first, Nadal was able to close out the match at the first time of asking and secure his 16th win over his compatriot 6-3, 7-5.

Up next for the Spaniard, a highly anticipated fourth round clash with Roger Federer, who saw off Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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John Newcombe Believes The Australian Open Will Be ‘A Big Ask’ For Nick Kyrgios

The tennis legend is unsure if the former top 20 player will be fit in time for the first grand slam of 2020.

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MADRID, SPAIN - Nick Kyrgios of Australia waking to the locked room Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

Former world No.1 John Newcombe has cast doubts on Nick Kyrgios’ chances of going deep in the draw at the upcoming Australian Open.

 

The 75-year-old, who won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s, believes the injury-stricken world No.30 may struggle playing best-of-five matches in Melbourne. Kyrgios missed most of the final quarter of the 2019 season due to a shoulder issue. He returned to action last month at the Davis Cup, but skipped his country’s quarter-final clash with Canada due to a collarbone injury. Overall, he has won 23 out of 37 matches played this year.

“It’s a bit of a worry that he has recurring injuries, especially around where the muscles join the joints and that’s going to be an ongoing problem for him it seems,” Newcombe told The Age.
“At the Davis Cup he’d only played four sets of singles and his shoulder started to play up again and when you’ve got an injury like that it’s hard to go out and practice a lot.
“Leading into the Australian Open – five sets is a big ask for him.”

A two-time grand slam quarter-finalist, the 24-year-old has struggled to make his mark in the majors this year. Winning just three matches in three grand slam tournaments he played in. Kyrgios missed the French Open due to injury. At his home slam, he lost in the first round for the first time since making his main draw debut back in 2014.

As well as trying to get fit in time for the start of the new season, Kyrgios will continue to be playing under a probation on the ATP Tour for ‘aggravated behaviour.’ Should he violate that, he faces the prospect of a 16-week ban from the tour.

“I can’t speak for him but if it was me it would be tough having that ban hanging over you,” Newcombe said.
“But I guess you’ve just got to learn to zip up.”

Kyrgios is set to start 2020 at the inaugural ATP Cup, which is the only team event to have both prize money and ranking points available. After that, he is set to play in the Kooyong Classic in what will be his final test prior to the Australian Open.

“I am delighted that Nick has chosen to play Kooyong again, and hopefully it acts as the perfect tune up for his Australian Open (AO) campaign and sets him up for a massive 2020 season.” Tournament director Peter Johnson said in a statement.

So far in his career, Kyrgios has won six titles. Including Acapulco and Washington this year.

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