Rafael Nadal Reaches Fifth Miami Open Final Following Victory Over Fabio Fognini - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Reaches Fifth Miami Open Final Following Victory Over Fabio Fognini

Joshua Coase

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Rafael Nadal skakes hands with Fabio Fognini at the net.

Rafael Nadal booked his place in his fifth Miami Open final after seeing off Fabio Fognini in straight sets 6-1, 7-5 in one hour and 30 minutes.

 

The Spaniard looked solid as a rock on serve and did not face any break points throughout the match. The fifth seed raced away with the opening set as Fognini appeared to be hampered by an arm injury which prevented him from hitting through the ball. The Italian showed great resistance in the second set and continued to hold serve despite facing break points, but it always looked to be the case of when and not if he would drop serve. Nadal made the breakthrough he had been craving in the eleventh game and had no trouble closing out the match.

Heading into this contest Nadal was seeking to reach his fifth final in Miami, while Fognini was looking to become the first Italian in history to reach the final. The Spaniard led their head to head 7-3 and made it three wins in a row over the Italian, who had caused him some problems in the past, but not on this occasion.

Nadal made a strong start, dropping just one point on his own serve in his opening couple of service games. The fifth seed led 0-30 in his opponent’s first service game and pushed him to deuce, but was unable to capitalise on this occasion. The next time Fognini stepped up to the line the Italian threw in an awful service game, packed with unforced errors as he dropped serve to love. 10 points in a row quickly took the Spaniard into a 4-1 lead.

In the next game, Fognini, who was appearing in just his second semifinal at a Masters 1000 level event, had a strong lead on serve, but allowed Nadal to work his way back in and earn a shot at securing a double break. In the rally which then ensued the Spaniard was at his best on the defence, making the Italian play one more ball, which led to Fognini dumping his attempted overhead into the net.

With the double break secured, Nadal held firm on serve, winning 83% of points behind his second serve, compared to just 11% for Fognini. The fifth seed closed out the first set 6-1 after just 25 minutes.

Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Fognini at the start of the second set as he returned from his bathroom break to find himself having to face break point. The Italian found the mark with his first serve as Nadal hit the net with his return and he was able to escape with the hold.

Fognini continued to struggle on serve but managed to hold on, saving a break point the next time he served, before securing another hold in a marathon fifth game, which lasted over nine minutes.

In the eighth game Nadal faced his toughest challenge on serve in the match after Fognini strung together a couple of good points to move to 30-30. The Italian was inches away from earning his first break point opportunity of the match after his attempted backhand cross court pass went just wide, getting caught by the wind at the last moment. The Italian managed to push his opponent to deuce but the Spaniard held firm and levelled the score at 4-4.

With that opportunity having passed Fognini by, it proved to be his final stand. The Italian recovered from 0-30 to get to 30-30 and narrowly missed a forehand which have brought up game point. Following that miss, Fognini double faulted to hand the break to Nadal, granting him the chance to serve for the match.

Nadal duly obliged and closed out the match to love, finishing with an unreturned serve to book his place in the final. The Spaniard dominated on serve throughout the match, winning 83% of points behind his first serve and 80% of points behind his second serve. The fifth seed will be hoping to go one step further this year and lift the trophy for the first time when he faces Roger Federer on Sunday.

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur

The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.

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Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.

 

The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.

During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.

“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”

De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.

“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“

Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.

Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.

Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”

As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.

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Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal

The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.

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Novak Djokovic (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.

 

Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.

“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.

Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.

Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.

He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.

Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”

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