Rafael Nadal confident in straight sets win over Karen Khachanov to reach Wimbledon fourth round - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal confident in straight sets win over Karen Khachanov to reach Wimbledon fourth round

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Fourth seed and two-time champion Rafael Nadal kept up his strong form here at SW19, powering past a talented opponent in 30th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 to reach the second week at Wimbledon.

 

Looking to book his place in the second week at Wimbledon for only the second time in the last six years, 15-time Grand Slam champion and world number two Rafael Nadal put up a dominant serving display to move past big-hitting 21-year-old Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 to reach the fourth round. The Spaniard took impressive control of the match, cracking a huge 41 winners to only 19 unforced errors to keep up his superb form here at the All England Club and move into the second week in two hours and 15 minutes on Centre Court.

In the opening set, it was Khachanov’s struggles on serve that set the tone for the set, as the young Russian was broken to 15 on Nadal’s first time of asking in both the second and fourth games of the set to give Nadal a dominant 4-0 lead early on. A very loose service game followed from the fourth-seeded Spaniard though as four uncharacteristic errors in a row gave the 3oth seed one break back.

Despite the wobble on serve, the two-time champion got right back up and picked up where he left off the prior game, forcing some wild errors from the 21-year-old to secure the double break lead for a second time and put himself a game from the first set at 5-1. Looking to serve out the opening set, Nadal was ruthless as he closed it out to love, with a big forehand winner and an ace helping punctuate a dominant first set, taken in only 22 minutes from the 15-time major champion.

Rafael Nadal hits a forehand at Wimbledon in London/Zimbio/Clive Brunskill

The second set featured more dominant serving from the world number two, but Khachanov was also able to raise his level and settle in throughout the set. After saving three break points in the opening service game for the Russian and a routine Nadal hold, the Spaniard was able to break the 21-year-old’s serve once again on his fourth time of asking to go up 2-1.

The pair then exchanged holds of serve the following five games for 5-3 before some impressive shot-making from the 30th seed helped him save set point and force the fourth seed to serve for a two-sets-to-love lead on Centre Court. Just like in the first set, Nadal made no mistake with his opportunity, once again serving the set out to love to secure a seemingly unassailable two-sets-to-love lead over the 21-year-old.

The third set featured more confident serving from both as some early jitters from Khachanov and late wobbles from Nadal resulting in break points were all saved until a third set tiebreak was reached following a set point saved with a crafty drop shot from the Spaniard.

In the tiebreak, it was all Nadal as the two-time champion was able to force his young Russian opponent to blink in the fourth and fifth points of the breaker and later on in the ninth as he rode three mini breaks to win the tiebreak 7-3 and defeat Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 to move into the second week here at Wimbledon without the loss of a set.

Rafael Nadal hits a forehand at Wimbledon in London/Zimbio/Clive Brunskill

Following the match in his post-match interview, Nadal said, “For a while I played fantastic, in the first set and a half, it was a great level,” said the two-time champion. “Then it was a little bit tougher.”

“I played some good shots, from the forehand and the backhand,” the fourth seed said. “Happy with almost everything. But in the third, I started to play a little bit shorter.”

Nadal will next face big-serving ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, who he lost to here at Wimbledon back in 2005. “He’s a very good opponent,” said the Spaniard. “Grass is his best surface – it’s going to be a tough one. I need to be very aggressive, and very fast with my legs,” concluded the 15-time major winner.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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