Nick Kyrgios Sends Nadal Packing In Surprising Fashion - UBITENNIS
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Nick Kyrgios Sends Nadal Packing In Surprising Fashion

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Nadal’s fourth ascent to the No. 1 ranking was spoiled by the talented 22-year-old Australian, who put on a serving clinic in the Cincinnati quarterfinals.

Nick Kyrgios (zimbio.com)

By Todd Muffie

CINCINNATI – Rafael Nadal was able to recapture the number one ranking in the absence of Federer and Murray at this year’s Cincinnati Open, but his run came to an abrupt end against a younger and more powerful opponent.

Nadal, a 15-time Grand Slam champion at the age of 31, was trying to fend off the challenge from 22-year-old Nick Kyrgios, the new bad boy on the block. The head-to-head was 2-1 in the Spaniard’s favor, with Kyrgios winning their first match on the Wimbledon grass in 2014 and Nadal prevailing in the following two encounters that were contested on the European clay in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Today’s encounter was not their most entertaining match but it did provide a few highlights. The first set went by in the blink of an eye, with Kyrgios breaking Nadal’s first two service games and jumping to a 4-0 lead. Rafa was not having his best day at the service line and when he went down a second break, you could hear the murmur of the crowd echoing through the stadium in disbelief. With Kyrgios averaging 130 mph on his serve, it was virtually impossible to dig out of a double-break deficit even for someone as great as Rafael Nadal.

You could sense Kyrgios getting under Nadal’s skin in the first set, especially when the Australian tried a tweener half-volley in the middle of a point. Not only did this frustrate Nadal, but this was the moment when the crowd started to turn against the youngster from Down Under. However, the frustration hindered Nadal’s play instead of helping the Spaniard, who continued to make too many unusual errors. There were a few moments throughout the match during which Kyrgios had the audacity to attempt the “SABR”. This is when the returner sneaks up to the service box and attempts a half-volley winner on their opponent’s serve to disrupt their rhythm. The shot was made popular by Roger Federer a few years ago.


Kyrgios eventually won the first set 6-2 to the crowd’s dismay. There were moments when it felt like the only person in the stadium pulling for Kyrgios was his own mother. This tends to happen when you find yourself across the net from Nadal or Federer. Ask Djokovic how this feels.

As the second set began, the crowd was treated to a firework display from Kings Island Amusement Park, while the DJ played Katy Perry’s song “Firework” over the loud speaker. It was the shot of adrenaline that this match needed. The crowd became more enthusiastic and Nadal even felt the electricity in the air.

The second set started with Nadal holding serve and jumping to a 2-1 lead. The fourth game was definitely a pivotal moment in the match when Nadal was up 15-30 and then eventually 30-40 on Kyrgios’ serve, but the Mallorca native missed a routine forehand that allowed Kyrgios to take over the game and even the score at 2-2. Kyrgios broke Nadal in the next service game and eventually went up 5-3. When serving to stay in the match, Nadal saved two match points with a service winner and taking advantage of a backhand error from Kyrgios. Kyrgios served for the match at 5-4 but failed to capitalize on the opportunity, with Nadal pulling even at 5-5 and treating the crowd to his trademark “Vamos”. Unfortunately, this excitement was short lived because Nadal had his most abysmal service game of the match at the most crucial time. Kyrgios served out the match with ease the second time around and finished the Spaniard off with a poignant 110 mph ace.


After the match, Kyrgios smashed a ball that bounced off the window of media box, which made the crowd turn against him once again. The boos echoed throughout the stadium. It is unfortunate that someone as talented as Kyrgios can ruin one of the most important wins of his career by playing the role of the bad guy.

In his post-match press conference, Nadal looked quite irritated about the way he played, but at the same time he seemed optimistic about his season and the upcoming US Open. He mentioned how Cincinnati has never been a good tournament for him, except for 2013 when he won the title. The combination of the humid conditions with the type of balls that are used for the event are apparently an Achille’s heel for the Spaniard. He was also asked about the black ribbon that he wore on his jacket to honor the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Barcelona and he candidly expressed how emotional he was over the tragedy.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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