French Open Day 15 Preview: The Men’s Singles Final - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 15 Preview: The Men’s Singles Final

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Rafael Nadal is 9-0 in French Open finals, while Stan Wawrinka is 3-0 in major finals. One of those streaks must give on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal is going for “la decima,” his record-extending tenth title at Roland Garros. Nadal’s clay domination over the past thirteen years is unprecedented for any player on any surface in the men’s game. After two sub-par clay seasons by Nadal’s unparalleled high standards, he has returned to top form in 2017. Rafa already won his tenth title at two other tournaments earlier this year: in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. This was after narrowly losing to Roger Federer in an epic Australian Open final. In fact if not for Federer, who also defeated Nadal in Indian Wells and Miami, Nadal may have won all three of those tournaments. Even with those losses, Nadal has a significant lead in the year-to-date rankings. Over the past two weeks in Paris, he has not dropped a set and only lost twenty nine games through six matches (the least amount of games he has ever dropped heading into the French Open final). He dismantled Dominic Thiem in the semifinals on Friday, and Thiem has been the second best clay court player this season. Nadal seems unstoppable.

Stan Wawrinka is coming off the match of the tournament, taking out world #1 Andy Murray in a semifinal that went over four and a half hours. That match must have taken a lot out of Stan, who will come into the final with only one day’s rest and having spent over 50% more time on court than Nadal on the way to the final. Wawrinka is a big match player, and has defeated world #1’s in all of his three previous major finals, but this will be his tallest task yet. Wawrinka will need to be at his best to have a chance of upsetting Nadal on his quest for his tenth French Open on Sunday. If Stan is on, he does have the ability to outhit Rafa and determine the outcome. If anyone knows what it takes to beat Nadal, it is Wawrinka’s coach, Magnus Norman. He was the man to coach Robin Soderling to victory over Nadal at Roland Garros in 2009. Another man who could offer Stan some advice on how to defeat Rafa would be Stan’s compatriot Roger Federer. Much like Wawrinka in this match, Federer was not favored to overcome Nadal in Melbourne. Stan would be smart to consult Roger and take a few cues from his game plan.

Head-to-head, Nadal is 15-3 against Wawrinka. However, they are 3-3 in their last six meetings. One of those three Nadal losses came in their only other major final, the 2014 Australian Open. While Wawrinka played very well on that occasion, Nadal notably suffered a back injury during the second set. Stan does have a win over Rafa on clay, which occurred at the 2015 Rome Masters. The third victory happened to be in Paris, but on an indoor hard court at the 2015 Paris Masters. Wawrinka will draw some confidence from those matches, but Nadal is a different player in 2017 than he was in 2015.

It’s hard to imagine Nadal losing in the French Open final. That being said, in a best of five sets major final on clay, no player in the world today has a better shot of pulling off the upset than Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss #1 has made a Hall of Fame career out of quietly making his way through draws and upsetting tennis greats. Wawrinka will need to stay competitive with Nadal from the start: he cannot afford to allow Rafa to build a quick lead. If Stan is able to put pressure on Nadal and extend the match to four or five sets, it will be interesting to see how Rafa responds. Let’s not forget Nadal has suffered some epic losses at majors in recent years, most notably the Australian final against Federer. The winner of this match will also become #2 in the world, which will be important for seeding at Wimbledon. While Nadal is the favorite to prevail in Paris, the stage is set for a captivating final on Sunday.

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Milos Raonic Beats Norrie; Holger Rune Falls to Thompson on Day 1 at Queens

MIlos Raonic hit 47 a record 47 aces on his way to victory as Frances Tiafoe retires against Hijikata, but Dimitrov goes through.

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Canada’s Milos Raonic blasted a record-breaking 47 aces on his way to a nail-biting 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(9) over home hope Cameron Norrie at the cinch Championships in London.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Raonic won 86% behind first serve, and saved both breakpoints he faced, but the 47 service winners was the most on the ATP tour for over 30 years and he squeezed through the two-hour fifteen-minute contest saving two match points in the final set tie-breaker.

“[Serving] is a big part of my game,” he said after the match “If I didn’t have my serve my career would be very different. My serve has always been the most important shot to me. This small record, it’s something special, something meaningful. So overall, a very positive thing and a fun stat to be proud of.”

Meanwhile Norrie remained upbeat despite the loss and firmly believes his form will turnaround soon: “I’m feeling great about my game but not getting results. It’ll come good, I have a lot to be positive about and won’t dwell on it.”

In the upset of the day, Australia’s Jordan Thompson sent seventh seed Holger Rune packing with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win putting him into the second round and a possible meeting with Andy Murray. In the first meeting between the two players, it was the 30-year-old who is ranked 43 in the world who played the important points better and got more balls back in court compared to Rune, who slipped on court and complained to the umpire about the surface being too wet.

In other results, qualifier Rinky Hijikata went through when Frances Tiafoe retired at the start of the third set with an injury to his right hip after a fall. The American took the first set 7-5 but the Australian hit back taking the second 6-4.

First on court today was former champion Grigor Dimitrov who cruised through against Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour, breaking the Frenchman’s serve five times, while the final match of the day was suspended and will be completed tomorrow. Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo was leading Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-0 in the decider having split the first two sets.

“I was very happy with the way I started the match. I think I set the bar high and wanted to be steady the whole time,” Dimitrov said after his match. “Serve and return I just tried to focus on, they are the fundamentals of this surface. As the match went on, I felt more solid and more secure, so I am very happy.”

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Carlos Alcaraz Feeling Fresh Ahead Of Queen’s Club

Carlos Alcaraz will look to defend his Queen’s Club title.

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Carlos Alcaraz is raring to go ahead of the grass court season as he prepares for his Wimbledon title defence at Queen’s Club.

The Spaniard is living in a dream right now having won his third Grand Slam title at Roland Garros followed by the news he will team up with Rafael Nadal at the Olympics.

It’s been an incredible last month and Alcaraz reflected on his title run in Paris and spoke about his vacation in Ibiza as he refreshed himself ahead of the grass court season, “I had a few days off. I went to Ibiza with a group of friends. I had fun. It was a great time celebrating Roland Garros,” Alcaraz told the ATP website.

“For me as a player, I need this kind of thing. Every player is different but for me to reach my best tennis I have to separate the professional part from the personal part. I have some days off to forget a little bit that I am a professional player. Being with my friends and family means I can rest a little bit.

“Roland Garros was a fantastic two weeks for me, a dream come true lifting the trophy.”

However tennis is a brutal sport and now Alcaraz’s attention turns to the grass court season where he had amazing memories last year.

The Spaniard won a five set thriller with Novak Djokovic to win his maiden Wimbledon title as he enters this year as defending champion.

Now Alcaraz is ready to attack the grass court season and is only focused on the next month ahead, “I have more matches in my bank on grass and now with the great run I had last year at Queen’s and Wimbledon I know a little bit on how to play and understand the game a little bit on grass,” the Spaniard explained ahead of Queen’s Club.

“I am more mature playing on this surface. The first practice I have done here, my movement wasn’t as good as last year but it is a slow process, so I have to be really focused in every practice and every match. We have to be focused on the tournament that we are playing right now.

“But right now my mind has to be here on the grass to be ready. As soon as I can to play good tennis and to get ready for Wimbledon. Right now my focus is on the grass and then after that, my mind will be on clay again to be at my best for the Olympics.”

Alcaraz will aim for a big run at Queen’s Club and will begin his campaign against Francisco Cerundolo on Tuesday afternoon.

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Aryna Sabalenka Announces Olympics Withdrawal

Aryna Sabalenka will miss the Olympic Games in Paris.

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Aryna Sabalenka has announced that she will miss the Olympic Games this year as she prioritises her health.

The world number two would still be allowed to play the Olympic Games despite Belarus being represented under a neutral name and flag.

However Sabalenka has decided to withdraw from the Olympics as she said it’s not healthy to keep changing surfaces.

Speaking ahead of her first grass court tournament in Berlin, Sabalenka explained her decision and spoke about the need to look after her health, “Especially with all the struggles I’ve been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health,” Sabalenka told the WTA website.

“It’s too much for the scheduling and I made the decision to take care of my health. I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts. I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts.”

Sabalenka was a finalist at last year’s US Open before losing to Coco Gauff and now feels it’s right to prepare in the best way possible in order to go one step further this year.

Health has been a problem for Sabalenka this season as was shown in her quarter-final clash with Mirra Andreeva at Roland Garros with the Australian Open champion struggling with stomach problems.

Now playing her first tournament since Roland Garros Sabalenka detailed the exact problems in Paris and how she plans on winning her first title on grass, “It was the worst experience I had in my life on court,” Sabalenka shockingly said.

“I’ve played while being ill, I’ve played with injuries, but when you have a stomach bug and you don’t have any energy to play and you’re in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, that was really terrible experience. But it is how it is.

“I think my body was just asking for some rest. I managed to find a couple of days to chill and recover after the tough months. We just don’t play enough time on grass so I don’t have enough time to win a title.

“It’s not like I feel bad, I’ve made some good results on the grass and I feel really good. I think grass actually suits my game really well. So it’s not about the surface, it’s about the month of tournaments, the amount of opportunities that I have on a grass court.”

Sabalenka will begin her campaign in Berlin against Daria Kasatkina.

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