Rafael Nadal moves into French Open semifinals with retirement from Pablo Carreno Busta - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal moves into French Open semifinals with retirement from Pablo Carreno Busta

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Nine-time French Open champion and fourth seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals courtesy of a 6-2, 2-0 retirement win over 20th seed and fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, retiring with a left abdominal injury.

 

14-time Grand Slam champion and presumptive favorite for a tenth Roland Garros title Rafael Nadal’s quest for La Decima marches on, as a left abdominal injury from 20th-seeded countrymen Pablo Carreno Busta gave the fourth seed a 6-2, 2-0 retirement win.

In the opening set, both players struggled on serve, with Nadal holding in the first game before both players exchanged breaks for 2-1. The nine-time champion continued to take advantage of Carreno Busta’s struggles on serve, breaking routinely before following that up with a love hold for a 4-1 lead. The fourth seed seized a third straight break of his countrymen’s serve, taking his first break point to claim the double break and go up 5-1.

Serving for the opening set, Nadal played a puzzling service game, getting broken to love, forcing Carreno Busta to serve to stay in the opening set. The 20th-seeded Spaniard was broken for the fourth straight time, giving up the set 6-2 as his abdominal injury made it very tough to serve.

Nadal began the second set with a comfortable hold of serve to 15, going up 1-0 early on. Having yet to hold a service game, the situation went from bad to worse for Carreno Busta as the 25-year-old surrendered yet another service game to go down 2-0. Carreno Busta attempted to play one more point on Nadal’s serve, but after a wayward overheard gave the 14-time major winner 15-0, the 20th seed Carreno Busta retired down 6-2, 2-0, giving Nadal a retirement into the semifinals, moving two wins from an unprecedented 10th French Open title.

Rafael Nadal hits a forehand at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris/Zimbio/Clive Brunskill

Following the less than one hour match, Nadal was confident in his first five matches here in Paris, yet cautious to overplay his title chances too much. ” No, yes, obviously was not the perfect way and especially against a good friend, no? Sorry for him. He was playing great. He had a great event. Is tough when these kind of things happens, but he had a great event. Overall, I think he will be positive about what happened here, and that’s important I think for him, for now, but at the same time for the future, no,” said a very complimentary Nadal.

“He’s in a privileged position on the raise. He’s gonna fight for important things for this year and fight to finish season top 8, top 10. Gonna be a big, big improvement for him. No, Pablo felt something in the 5-2 with one serve wide. That’s what he told me. It’s impossible to analyze now how bad it is. But I hope it’s not very bad, because he stop quick enough.”

“I had that in 2009 US Open, and I played during the whole event with this. And I started with a strain, 7 millimeters on the abdominal, and I finished it with 27, 28. So was stupid for my part, but I played event, no? But I think is much better what he did, and that’s probably the best way to keep going without wait for a lot of weeks,” commented the nine-time French Open champion.

Having yet to drop and set through five matches at Roland Garros and looking in good form and well rested, Nadal described his title chances saying, ” Is always the same, no? If it’s too much, is too much. If it’s less, is less. I am in semifinals. That’s all. I am in semifinals and with a very positive feelings. I played well all the matches here. Until the 5-2, I think I was playing well, too, today. So positive feelings and playing well. The rest of the things, you never know. So it’s difficult to say. Better, worse? I want to be in that position. That’s all,” said an excited fourth-seeded Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal hits a serve at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris/Zimbio/Clive Brunskill

Awaiting Nadal in the semifinals is sixth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem, who stunned world number two and defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6, 6-3, 6-0 today in his quarterfinal match on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Nadal and Thiem, the two best clay court players this year, have met three times on the dirt this year, with the Spaniard winning in straight sets in finals in Barcelona and Madrid, before Thiem came roaring back to defeat Nadal in straight sets a few weeks ago in Rome, Nadal’s only loss on clay this year.

Asked about the proposition of facing 23-year-old Thiem, Nadal said, “Thiem is a tough player. I hope that I won’t lose. I won in Barcelona, Madrid, and I lost to him in Rome. We played three times with Dominic. We can have a look at the statistics. We can talk about statistics for hours, but what is important is to consider the match.”

“So either you play well and you advance to the next round or you lose and you’re out. If I play well, I hope that I will be able to book my spot in the final. If I don’t play well, I will be out of the tournament,” commented a candid world number four.

“If I play well, I will be able to reach the finals. So my tennis level will have to be good and intense. I will put pressure upon their shoulders immediately,” concluded Nadal.

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American No.3 Reilly Opelka Blasts ‘Shocking’ ATP Cup

The new event has been described as unfair and a embarrassment by the American.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Reilly Opelka of United States during the Group F match between USA and Canada during Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil / Kosmos Tennis)

With the Davis Cup currently under close scrutiny this week, one player on the tour have turned his criticism to a brand new team event coming to the tour in 2020.

 

Reilly Opelka has launched a verbal attack on the ATP Cup, which will get underway in January. The event features 24 teams playing in three cities across Australia. Unlike the Davis Cup, both prize money and ranking points are available. Many of the world’s top players have already confirmed their intention to play in the event. Although one noticeable absence will be Roger Federer.

“The ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that.” The 22-year-old told reporters in Madrid.
“It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it (the tour) more top-heavy than it already is.”

The teams for the ATP Cup are determined by the ranking of the country’s highest ranked player. However, with only two singles players allowed to play in each team some countries find themselves in a tough spot. Once being America, who currently has eight players in the top 100. Opelka argues that due to the rules of the competition, the distribution of ranking points is unfair.

“I’m 35 in the world. I’m not going to play because I’m the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” He stated.
“It counts as an additional 19th tournament. So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup gets a 19th. So it’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”

Opelka used the example of Moldova playing in the ATP Cup as one of the reasons why he is frustrated. The country has qualified due to the ranking of their top player Radu Albot, who is currently ranked 46th in the world. However, Moldova’s second highest ranked player is outside the top 800.

Fortunately concerning the Davis Cup, the former Wimbledon junior champion has a much more favourable view. This week is the inaugural week-long finals, which has encountered some blips already. The most being the schedule of the event with some ties now finishing until as late as 4am.

“I’m a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction.” Opelka concluded.
“Tennis players are pretty good at that. You don’t really know when you’re going to play matches. You can go really long, or you can go really quick. We’re used to being on standby.” He added.

This week is Opelka’s debut in the Davis Cup.

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Serbia beats France 2-1 to secure spot in Davis Cup quarter final

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Serbia qualified for the quarter finals at the Davis Cup at the Caja Magica in Madrid with wins in both singles matches by Filip Krajinovic over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic over Benoit Paire.

 

In the opening match Filip Kajinovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 in 1 hour and 48 minutes to give Serbia a 1-0 lead.

Krajinovic dropped two points on his first serve and earned his first three break point at 3-3 before breaking serve in the 11th game after a loose forehand from Tsonga. The 27-year-old Serbian player sealed the opening set 7-5 with a service winner.

Tsonga fended off three break points in the opening game of the second set. The Frenchman earned his only break point chance on return at 2-1, but Krajinovic saved it to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next eight games to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic earned the crucial mini-break on the 12th point to close out tie-break 7-5.

World number 2 Novak Djokovic cruised past Benoit Paire 6-3 6-3 in 70 minutes to secure the qualifying spot for Serbia in the quarter final.

Djokovic saved two break points in the first match of the opening set. The Serbian player earned a break in the eighth game and sealed the opening set 6-3 on his third set point.

Paire dropped his serve in the third game of the second set after a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic. The Serbian star hit a return winner at 5-3 to set up a quarter final clash against Russia on Friday.

Last week’s ATP Finals champions Pierre Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-4. Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to seal the opening set 6-4. Tipsarevic and Troicki broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Herbert and Mahut got the break back in the fifth game. After saving a break point in the eighth game Herbert and Mahut earned the decisive break in the ninth game and closed out the match on his first set point.

Serbia set up a quarter final against Russia, who qualified as one of the two-best-placed group runners-up by clinching second spot in Group.

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Jack Sock and Sam Querrey take late-night decisive doubles clash over Italy

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The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.

 

Fabio Fognini  beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.

Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.

Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.

Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.

“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.

Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.

In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.

Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.

“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.

Jack Sock and Sam Querrey came back from a set down in the decisive doubles match to take a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to give the USA a 2-1 win. The doubles match ended shortly after 4 am and was one of the latest finishes to a match in tennis history.  The USA finished second in the Group F behind Canada, who secured the first spot with their wins over Italy and the USA earlier this week. Neither team  was able to earn a break in the first two sets. Italy broke serve to take a 3-1 lead. Sock and Querrey broke back immediately before earning the decisive break at 4-4. The US team served out the win after 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Reilly played a great match and Taylor came out in in a tough position knowing he needed to win. To get the doubles means a lot”, said Querrey.

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