Experience Prevails As Rafael Nadal Crushes Teenager Rublev To Reach US Open Semis - UBITENNIS
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Experience Prevails As Rafael Nadal Crushes Teenager Rublev To Reach US Open Semis

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Rafael Nadal remains on course for a clash with Roger Federer after handing rising star Andrey Rublev a tough lesson in life with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, thrashing in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

Fears of a blip similar to his earlier matches in New York were nowhere to be seen for Nadal. Instead, he dictated play from start to finish against somebody who once went to train with him in Mallorca. Hitting four aces, 21 winners and winning 75% of service points.

“It was a good match,” said Nadal. “For Andrey it was his first (grand slam) quarter-final and of course he played with more mistakes than usual.”
“It’s an important victory. Winning the last two matches in straight sets is great news for me. I’m just happy to be the semi finals again here in New York.”

Thursday’s match-up was a tale of two different worlds. Top seed Nadal is participating in his 51st grand slam main draw with the aim of clinching his 16th major title. In contrast Rublev, who was just six-years-old when Nadal won his first ATP title, was playing in only his fifth grand slam main draw.

The disparity between the two was noticeable from the start of the match. Nadal’s supremacy with his shot-making frustrated his Russian rival. Rublev delighted the audience with glimpses of his lightening forehand, but nerves cost him dearly. As a result, the top seed sealed the opening set in just 24 minutes. Producing seven winners and heavily benefitting from Rublev’s error count of 11.

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Playing against somebody who said earlier in the week that he was their idol, Nadal was in full control of the match. Prompting an downbeat Rublev to make numerous glares towards his camp in the crowd. Midway through the second set a double fault from the 19-year-old moved the Spaniard to a 3-2 lead before he faced his first real test of the match. In the following game, Nadal was forced to fight back from 15-40. Passing that test with flying colours, the match was becoming a walk in the park. On the stroke of the 59-minute mark, a forehand down the line secured the 6-1, 6-2, lead.

Rublev’s New York fairy tale turned into one of nightmares as the errors continued. After exceeding expectations to reach his first major quarter-final, he was made to look somewhat ordinary by a resilient Nadal. The outcome was what many on the Arthur Ashe stadium expected, but not the manner in how it was achieved.

Strolling into his sixth US Open semifinal, Nadal achieved his most clinical victory of the tournament in a way that summarised the entire match. A lengthy exchange resulting in a Rublev error, his 43rd of the match. Handing the world No.1 his 53rd win of 2017.

“This year has been an emotional year. I have been playing very well, almost every tournament.”

Only one win separates the top seed from a showdown that the entire draw has been talking about since day 1. Roger Federer or Juan Martin del Potro awaits Nadal in the semifinals. Should Federer triumph over the Argentine, it will be the first time the two have ever clashed in New York in what will be their 38th tour meeting.

“It’s a match I want to see. It’s a match that I want to pay attention to. Two great players, a great show, and I will be waiting in the semifinals (for the winner).” The 31-year-old said.
“I hope to be ready for it. I know it will be very difficult, but at the same time the energy of this court is so special for me. I always have a great connection here (in New York) with the crowd.”

Federer and Del Potro will clash during the evening session at the Arthur Ashe stadium on Thursday.

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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