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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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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