Resurgent Rafael Nadal Eases Into US Open Quarters - UBITENNIS
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Resurgent Rafael Nadal Eases Into US Open Quarters

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Rafael Nadal has issued a stark warning to his rivals at the US Open draw with a clinical 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the fourth round.

 

Concerns about the No.1 circulated over the past week following a duo of lacklustre performances at Flushing Meadows. Judging on previous history, Nadal seemed almost certain to be tested once again by Dolgopolov. Two out of their three most recent encounters were won by Dolgopolov, whose unorthodox shot-making makes him stand out. In reality, it was a one-way show from the Spaniard, who produced 23 winners and won 81% of his service points.

“I think I played a solid match.” Nadal said following his win. “I know Dolgopolov is a player that can play amazing shots, but at the same time is a little bit unpredictable. So he combined amazing points with mistakes, so I tried to be very focused all the time with my serve and wait for the opportunities on the return.”

Taking to the Arthur Ashe court just after midday, the top seed inserted his dominance from the onset. Hitting 9 winners and winning 70% of service points during the opening set. Dolgopolov tried to get some momentum in his favour, but failed to convert a duo of break points in the sixth game of the match. Meanwhile, Nadal’s dismantling of his opponent’s serve was straightforward. A Dolgopolov double fault followed by a forehand error secured Nadal his first break. Three games later he broke once again to lead 5-2 on route to clinching the opening set after 33 minutes of play.

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The positive start to the match was a relief to the Spaniard’s team. In his two previous matches Nadal dropped the opening set against Taro Daniel and Leonardo Mayer. Avoiding the mistake for the third time, Nadal appeared calm and collective under the New York sun. Even when Dolgopolov matched him game-by-game during set number two, he had all the answers. With the world No.65 serving at 4-4, Nadal’s relentless defensive play worn down Dolgopolov, who slammed a backhand into the net to move the world No.1 to 5-4. Nadal then sealed the 6-2, 6-4, lead with the help of a love service game, which concluded with an ace out wide.

Nadal’s dominance proved to much for his opponent, who was playing in the last 16 of the tournament for the first time since 2011. Dolgopolov appeared contempt on the court that a loss was inevitable. Glimmers of his talent brought the occasional smile to the crowd, but it had little impact on Nadal’s supremacy.

Cruising towards the finish line, four match points came and went for Nadal. It was fifth time a charm for the 31-year-old when Dolgopolov backhand slammed into the net. His 39th unforced error of the match.

“I tried not to let him play from the easy positions. I probably hit more towards his forehand because he was returning with a slice.” Nadal said about his tactics used against Dolgopolov. “I felt that if I hit a forehand down the line , he would have less space to attack. If I play against his backhand, he has a great cross-court backhand.”

Praise for Moya

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As a result of his win, Nadal has reached at least the quarter-finals of three grand slams this season. An achievement he hasn’t accomplished since 2011. This year he has already won a quartet of titles on the clay, including a record 10th French Open.

“The season has been very positive. Quarter-finals here in New York, that’s a positive result for me and I am looking forward to keep playing better.”

Now three wins away from claiming his first hard-court title of any sort since 2014, Nadal has praised Carlos Moya. Who joined his team at the start of the year.

“He is a good help for all of us. It’s great to have him on the team. He’s more than a coach, he is one of the best friends I ever had on the tour.” Said Nadal.
“I think he came with a lot of motivation, good ideas and he is very positive all the time.”

Nadal is bidding to win his 16th major title in New York.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Reaches Quarters In Cincinnati After Three-Set Win Over Sinner

The world number nine reached the quarterfinals after battling back to beat the Italian in three sets.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the quarterfinals of the Western and Southern Open after beating Jannik Sinner 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 26 minutes.

 

The Canadian served 14 aces and hit 29 winners in a match where he had to fight back from losing the first set on his way to sealing a spot in the final eight of the tournament.

“Jannik was just playing too good. I didn’t have a great start, I was missing a lot. But I just had no time. He was playing so fast, so precise, serving well. For a set and a half, it was just too good,” atptour.com quoted Auger-Aliassime as saying during his on-court interview. “That game he broke me in the second, returning on the baseline for three returns in a row, you can’t do much better, so I had to give it to him.
“But at the end, I was still on the court trying to find ways, trying to fight and trying to see how I could make him miss a few more balls and to put myself in a competing position and I did that well… To come back and play that way in the tie-break and the third set, that means a lot to me going forward.”

Sinner got the early break in the first set to take a 2-0 lead and broke a second time with the Montreal native serving to stay in the first set to seal it.

The second set stayed on serve until 3-2 when once again the Italian got the break of serve to take a 4-2 lead but Auger-Aliassime broke right back the following game. The set was eventually decided by a tiebreaker in which the world number nine raced out to a 4-0 lead, hitting some solid forehands and it looked like he had turned the match around. He won the breaker only losing a single point and sent the match into a deciding set.

The number seven seed kept the momentum going by breaking in the first game of the third set. He then earned a double break lead and was up 3-0 and broke a third time for a 4-1. Auger-Aliassime served out the match to book a date with Borna Coric who beat the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes.

The pair have met twice before in 2019. Auger-Aliassime won their encounter in Miami but Coric triumphed in Rome.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Quarterfinals Featuring Medvedev/Fritz and Alcaraz/Norrie

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Daniil Medvedev this week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Friday’s ATP singles quarterfinals feature six of the top 13 players in the world.  By contrast, in the WTA singles draw, the top five seeds have all been eliminated, and only two seeds remain.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (11) – Not Before 1:00pm on Center Court

Medvedev has earned both his wins this week in straight sets, while Fritz came back from a set down on Thursday to defeat Daniil’s close friend Andrey Rublev.  The 24-year-old American is having the best year of his career, with a record of 35-13.  Taylor is on the verge of breaking into the top 10, and would be even closer to doing so had he received points for his run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.  He earned his first Masters 1000 title at another North American hard court event earlier this year in Indian Wells.  In their first career meeting, Fritz has the firepower to pull off the upset, especially with a partisan crowd behind him.  But on a hard court, Medvedev remains the favorite to reach his third semifinal in Cincinnati.


Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Center Court

This will be their fourth meeting within the past year, and thus far, all three have gone to Alcaraz.  That includes straight sets wins at the US Open and Indian Wells, and a three-set victory in Madrid on clay.  As impressive as Norrie has been across the past 18 months, no one has skyrocketed to new heights this past year like Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old is now 44-8 in 2022.  However, the sheer amount of tennis the youngster has played this year is concerning, despite his high level of fitness.  And many of those matches have been grueling, dramatic affairs.  Given his recent history with Norrie, Carlitos should be favored, though an upset by the British No.1 would not be a shocking result.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Madison Keys vs. Elena Rybakina – Keys upset world No.1 Iga Swiatek on Thursday.  Both Keys and Rybakina are yet to drop a set this week.  When they played at this year’s Roland Garros, Madison prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Ajla Tomljanovic (Q) vs. Petra Kvitova – Tomljanovic has survived four consecutive three-setters, going back to the last round of qualifying on Sunday.  Kvitova took out Ons Jabeur on Thursday. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. John Isner – Tsitsipas lead their head-to-head 4-2, and has taken their last four meetings.  Stefanos is vying for his third consecutive semifinal at this event.  Isner was a finalist here in 2013.

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Caroline Garcia – Pegula is now No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, with a record of 30-15.  However, Garcia has slightly bested that record, as she’s now 32-15 this season.  Jess is 2-1 against Caroline, though the Frenchwoman claimed their only meeting in 2022.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Borna Coric (Q) – Auger-Aliassime saved two match points on Thursday night in a comeback victory over Jannik Sinner.  Coric followed up his upset of Rafael Nadal by defeating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.  Felix and Borna split two encounters back in 2019. 


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Outlines ‘Big Concern’ About His Current Fitness Ahead Of US Open

The 35-year-old is looking to see if he can find a reason behind his latest problem on the Tour.

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Andy Murray (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Britain’s Andy Murray has admitted that he is alarmed about the frequency of cramping he is experiencing during matches played in North America this season.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Western and Southern Open on Wednesday after losing in three sets to compatriot Cameron Norrie. During the closing stages of their encounter, it was visible that Murray was once again struggling with cramps. A condition that occurs when a muscle shortens and causes a sudden pain that can make it hard to move.

It is usual for athletes to experience cramps but for Murray the issue is a ‘big concern’ for him. Saying that this year is the first time in his career he has suffered from the issue on a regular basis.

“I think pretty much every tennis player in their career has cramped usually in these sorts of conditions,” Murray said during his press conference.
“But the consistency of it for me is a big concern. It’s not something that I have really experienced. I have experienced cramping but not consistently like over a number of tournaments.
“It’s a big concern for me because it’s not easy to play when it gets bad like it was at the end (of his match against Norrie). I feel like it had an impact on the end of the match.”

Murray says his cramping occurs ‘predominantly’ in his legs but different parts. The former world No.1 is now looking into seeing if he can find a possible explanation as to what might be triggering the cramps. The issue comes less than two weeks before the start of the US Open.

“It’s a big concern for me that and something that I need to address and find a solution for,” he said. “No one knows exactly why cramps happen. There are many reasons, whether its hydration, whether it’s the food that you have taken in, whether it’s fatigue and lack of conditioning, stress.’
“I need to try and understand what’s going on there.”

Since Wimbledon, Murray has achieved a win-loss record of 3-4 on the Tour with his best run being to the quarter-finals in Newport. He is currently ranked 47th in the world.

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