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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‘Another Level’ – Nick Kyrgios Praises Rising Star Jannik Sinner

This week the world No.11 is bidding to win his third consecutive indoor tournament.

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Jannik Sinner (ITA), (Erste Bank Open 2021, Wiener Stadthalle); Copyright: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger

Jannik Sinner’s recent dominance when it comes to playing tennis indoors hasn’t gone unnoticed with one of his peers praising him on social media.

 

The 20-year-old defeated Reilly Opelka in the second round of the Vienna Open on Wednesday in what is his fifth consecutive win on the Tour. Impressively Sinner has now won 18 straight sets on indoor hardcourts. Last Sunday he claimed his fifth Tour title at the European Open to become the youngest ATP player to win that many ATP trophies since Novak Djokovic back in 2007.

Sinner’s achievements were highlighted on social media by journalist Ben Rothenberg who posted a tweet of the 18 sets he has won. That caught the attention of former top 20 player and two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios who paid his own tribute to the Italian.

“He is another level. That’s for sure, played him in Washington doubles. Never played someone who hit the ball as hard,” he wrote.

The two are yet to play against each other in singles competition. In Washington Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe lost 4-6, 4-6, to Sinner and his partner Sebastian Korda.

Sinner’s latest win in Vienna has boosted his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin next month. He has risen back up the standings to 10th in the race after overtaking Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie. Norrie will play his second round match on Thursday.

“I think I had not so many chances and I used them. I think that was the key today,” Sinner said of his latest win against Opelka. “I served well. My service holds were always quite fast and good. I felt well on the baseline, so I knew when I went in a rally that somehow I was going to win the point. But it’s never easy playing against him. You never have rhythm.”

Awaiting Sinner in the next round will be Austria’s Denis Novak who is currently ranked 116th in the world and is yet to beat a top 10 player in his career.

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Denis Shapovalov Battles Back To Reach The Quarterfinals In St Petersburg

The Canadian got off to a slow start in his first match but was able to recover nicely for a big three-set win.

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Second seed Denis Shapovalov needed to go the distance at the St Petersburg Open to beat his Spanish opponent Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 49 minutes.

 

The Toronto native didn’t have the best start to the match but was able to recover and pull off a comeback to take the win. Serving a total of 11 aces to reach the quarterfinals.

” It’s very tough to play Pablo (Andujar) first round of a tournament, he’s a great player and it was a tough start to the match,” said Shapovalov. “I didn’t feel so great but I just told myself to keep going because obviously there is still a lot of tennis to be played and I wanted to turn it around in the second set and I did a really good job.”

It was the Spaniard who got off to a better start, earning a breakpoint in the first game of the match before grabbing the early break and he was able to consolidate it. At 2-0, Andujar had two chances to go up a double break but the Canadian saved both and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 92 was able to earn another breakpoint. This time converted for the double break lead and served out the first set.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-1 when Shapovalov broke to love and that one break of serve was enough for him to serve it out and send the match into a decider.

The Canadian continued pushing as his level improved. In the first game of the final set, he broke the Spaniard with a perfectly timed cross-court winner to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break he was hungry for more and broke Andujar’s serve once again to go up a double break. Shapovalov closed the match out with a bagel set.

During his on-court interview, Shapovalov was asked how happy he was back to be in St Peterburg and he mentioned the amazing memories he had playing in the event last year.

” It always feels great to be back and I remember last year playing Andrey (Rublev) in the semifinals. I was one set up and I lost this match but I am happy to be here due to the fact I always get great support from the fans here”. He said.

Shapovalov will face Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarterfinals after the German upset seventh seed Alexander Bublik in straight sets (6-4, 6-3).

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Former World No.8 And Grand Slam Champion Jurgen Melzer Retires

Melzer ends a career which has seen him crack the world’s top 10 in both singles and doubles.

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Jurgen Melzer (AUT) - Alexander Zverev (GER) vs John Peers (AUS) - Filip Polasek (SVK), (Erste Bank Open 2021 #glaubandich Court); Copyright: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger,

After more than two decades on the Tour, Jurgen Melzer has played his final match after bowing out of the Vienna Open on Wednesday.

 

The 40-year-old confirmed earlier this year that he would end his career at his home tournament. Teaming up with Alexander Zverev in the doubles, the duo lost in straight sets to third seeds Filip Polášek and John Peers. Melzer is a two-time champion in Vienna after winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He later went on to win the doubles title in 2014.

I was a bit afraid that not so many would come after all. Thank you very much, it was a huge honour for me to leave here,” Melzer said during his on-court interview.
“He (Zverev) didn’t hesitate five seconds to play here with me, that is not a matter of course when you’re at number four and you’re close to the Masters. Unfortunately, it was a short undertaking, but thank you.” He added.

Melzer first rose to prominence as a junior when he became the first Austrian to win the Wimbledon boys’ title back in 1999. He would go on to play in a total of 53 Grand Slam main draws during his professional career with his best run being to the semi-finals of the 2010 French Open. On the ATP Tour he claimed five titles with his most prestigious being at an ATP 500 event in Memphis during the 2012 season.

Against top 10 opposition, Melzer has beaten every member of the Big Three at least once. The most notable being against Novak Djokovic where he battled back from two sets down to stun the Serbian at the 2010 French Open. Overall, he recorded 13 wins over top 10 players during his career.

“My career started here (in Vienna) on an international level almost 22 years ago, in 1999 here in the town hall, where for the first time I was allowed to dream of really going the way as a professional tennis player. 22 years later and I would have signed everything, what I have achieved. It was an unbelievable journey that ends today. That I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

It wasn’t just in the singles where Melzer enjoyed success on the Tour. As a double player he achieved a ranking high of sixth and won two men’s Grand Slam titles with Philipp Petzschner, as well claiming the 2011 Wimbledon mixed doubles trophy with his ex-wife Iveta Benešová. More recently, Melzer reached the final of the 2020 ATP Finals alongside Édouard Roger-Vasselin. That was to be the last Tour final of his career.

“Of course you still hope to be at the top, but at some point you will be realistic enough to be able to assess that it will not be enough. It was an unbelievable journey that was a lot of fun. It is over, but it is also good that way.” He concluded.

Whilst his time on the Tour has come to an end, Melzer will remain involved in tennis. He is currently working as the Sports director of the Austrian Tennis Federation (OTV). A role he has held since January.

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