Nadal to start bid for maiden ATP Finals title against Goffin - UBITENNIS
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Nadal to start bid for maiden ATP Finals title against Goffin

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(Rafael Nadal – photo via zimbio.com)

16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will kick off his bid for a first ever title at the Nitto World Tour Finals against David Goffin of Belgium in London on Monday. Will the Spanish superstar end all the speculations regarding his right knee to rest with a powerful performance or will it be a day to savor for Goffin?  

 

Prior to the start of the season ending finale in the British capital the discussion between the fans, the experts and former players centered around Nadal’s injured right knee. In fact, Rafa’s participation in the tournament was in serious doubt when he pulled out of the Paris Masters stating that the pain was simply too much to bear and that’s why he decided to leave the event midway after sealing the year-end World No. 1 ranking.

However, after his arrival in London, Nadal claimed that he wouldn’t have arrived to participate in the tourney if he didn’t feel he can compete with the rest of the field. He said: “If I didn’t believe I could be ready for Monday I wouldn’t be here. The knee is not perfect, of course, after having to retire from Paris… In a couple of days you cannot expect to be 100% but I had treatment and I’m expecting to be better and better every day. I’m here to try my best to give me a chance.”

There are not many trophies in tennis that the World No. 1 hasn’t won, but the ATP Finals, which the pundits have dubbed as the ‘Fifth Slam’ has eluded him and it’s the one trophy he badly wants to win. He will be making his eighth appearance at the tournament, with his best showing being getting through to the finals in 2010 and 2013.

While there’s little doubt about the fact that Nadal has had a wonderful year as he has won a bagful of trophies, including a historic 10th French Open and his 3rd US Open crown, his opponent Goffin too has had a very successful season so far. Of course, his success cannot match the lofty standards set by the southpaw, but Goffin still attained many of his career goals in 2017.

One of those goals was to break into the top-10 and he did so right at the start of the year by reaching the Australian Open quarters and by proceeding through to the finals in Sofia and Rotterdam. Just like Rafa, Goffin loves to play on clay and he enjoyed a solid run of results on the surface highlighted by a semi-final run in Madrid. However, an ankle injury brought his Roland Garros campaign to a premature halt as he fell to Horacio Zeballos in the third round.

The same injury kept him out of the entire grass-court season and when he returned on the North American hard courts he didn’t look as sharp as he looked early in the year. However, slowly and steadily he found his groove, winning back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo and followed that up with a semifinal showing in Basel, thus securing his spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.

Head-to-Head: It will be the duo’s third meeting on the ATP tour with Nadal winning on both the occasions. However, the two things that could give Goffin the confidence are – both those matches were contested on clay and not many people have a chance of beating Nadal on that surface and the second is the fact that Nadal has himself said that his knee is still not 100% and it will take some time for him to attain peak fitness. This is definitely Goffin’s best chance to defeat Nadal, but Nadal surely would have the upper hand in the match just because he is simply mentally too tough.

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Andy Murray – “It’s Just Not Good Enough”

The three-time Grand Slam champion spoke to the media about his current form and plans for the coming weeks following his loss in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

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After falling to world number 8 Andrey Rublev in the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Andy Murray shed light on his current form on the Tour.

 

The former world No.1 fell 7-5, 6-2, to the Russian in what was only his second match on the ATP Tour this season. Murray missed the Australian Open at the start of the year after testing positive for COVID-19 and subsequently turned to the Challenger Tour. Against Rublev, the illustrated Brit illustrated glimmers of her usual grit but admits that there is still more work that needs to be done as he aims to return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. Below is a summary of the key quotes from Murray in his latest press conference :-

He started by answering what positives he could take from the match despite the loss.

“From the positive side I thought I moved well for the first hour or so. He (Rublev) is one of the bigger hitters on the tour and in the first set I felt like he wasn’t getting that many free points from the back of the court and he’s having to work hard to get the ball through me so I thought that was positive. I did some things quite well in the first set but when it mattered I didn’t play well.”

Murray would continue to add what he felt he did wrong and what was the main reason he lost to such a young talented player who in the second set basically dominated from start to finish.

“It’s just not good enough and your playing one of the best players in the world like in those moments they come up with something great to win those points it’s understandable and you expect that but I felt in the moment at the end of the first set that I blew it. The second set he was for sure much better than me no question about that, there are things like I’m not used to making those errors in those moments and I find it quite frustrating mentally and find myself looking back on those moments little bit too much which affected me a bit in the second set, I’m disappointed and felt like I should have won that first set”

He was then asked about his upcoming schedule and the fact there aren’t a lot of hard court tournaments left before the clay court swing.

“So I don’t play well on clay is that the suggestion”

He would continue his answer and say the following.

“I want to play as much as I can but baring in mind that I still have to be smart with the decisions about which tournaments I play and how many events in a row I play, the last time I played four weeks in a row and a lot of consecutive matches I picked up an issue and I need to be mindful of that but I wanna try and play. Next week, I will have off, I will go home now and then hopefully be able to play in Dubai and Miami and than see from there. There is the option to play the full clay court swing, there’s the option to drop down and play challengers to get more matches and build more robustness in my body, I kinda feel like I want to play at this level because I learned a lot from a match like tonight even though I lost.”

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Andrey Rublev Ousts Andy Murray In Rotterdam To Reach Quarter-Finals

The Russian world number 8 booked his spot in the final eight after beating the Scott in rather convincing fashion.

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Andrey Rublev is into the last eight of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam after beating Andy Murray in straight sets 7-5, 6-2. The world number 8 fired 24 winners in the match while Murray hit 20 unforced errors.

 

Both players did a good job holding their opening service games and there were some amazing rallies to indicate that a was battle beckoning. The Scott got the first breakpoint of the match at 3-2 but it was quickly saved by the number 3 seed and he managed to hold serve.

It wasn’t until 5-5 when Murray seemed to crack in his service game and after giving up a breakpoint served a double fault to give the Russian the 6-5 lead. Rublev would serve out the first set to take it 7-5.

Winning the first set gave the world No.8 the momentum early in the second set and at 2-2 he earned two breakpoints off a unforced error from the world number 123. Breaking with a stunning forehand winner to take a 3-2 lead.

After securing the break and holding serve he continued to attack and pressure the Murray serve. Once again the Murray serve cracked and he double faulted again to give the Russian a 5-2 lead. Rublev would serve out the match in style and finished with his trademark forehand cross-court to seal the victory.

“It was a really tough match, I mean we had a lot of rallies, like I said before with Andy I cannot rush, I cannot play my usual style of play, he’s hitting every single ball so I need to slow down,” Said Rublev.
I need to mix (my shots) because Andy is really great at defense and he make you play tough balls that is not easy to attack. He is waiting for the moment for you to rush and in my case I needed to slow down and to wait for the right ball to play rallies and than when you have the right ball to play aggressive and take a lead.”

He will next play the winner of Jeremy Chardy vs and David Goffin in the quarter-finals.

A day of upsets

It was not a good day to be a seeded player in Rotterdam as three top names crashed out of the tournament. The top seed Daniil Medvedev was sent packing by Dusan Lajovic in straight sets 7-5,6-4, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beat the number 5 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2,7-6, while Alexander Zverev was stunned by Alexander Bublik 7-5,6-3.

Elsewhere David Goffin beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4,6-0, Tommy Paul beat Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-6, and Kei Nishikori kept his run going by beating Alex De Minaur in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Pledges To Raise Money For Charity In Doubles

The world No.6 has vowed to support a cause which is close to his heart.

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Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas has said he will donate €3000 to a charity close to his heart for every win he achieves in the doubles.

 

The world No.6 is playing at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam this week where he is the second seed. Tsitsipas has also paired up with his brother Petros to play in the doubles tournament. It is the fourth time they have played together on the ATP Tour and they are yet to win a match at that level. Earlier this year the Tsitsipas brothers lost in the first round of the Australian Open.

“I have not said this publicly again, but I do not mind sharing it. I decided that for every victory we will make with Petros on the tour, I will donate 3,000 euros to “Together for the Children,” Tsitsipas told reporters following his win first round win in the singles on Tuesday.
“They will go to this organization, I have been supporting them for a few years now as an ambassador and I see it as something that can push us to win even more.”

Together for Children is a Greek non-government Association of various member organizations that provides support to an estimated 30,000 children each year. Those organisations support children who have been affected by factors such as chronic illness, the loss of a family member, domestic violence and other issues. Tsitsipas is one of two ambassadors along with TV presenter Duchess Nomikou.

“I met the people of “Together for Children” and I was inspired by the work they offer to thousands of children in need in Greece who face difficulties in their daily lives. I believe it is my duty to contribute to the efforts made for these children,” the three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist is quoted as saying on their official website.

Tsitsipas’ first doubles match will be Wednesday afternoon when he and his brother face the Belgian duo of Joran Vliegen and Sander Gillé who won the Singapore Open last week. The last time they won a competitive match together was back in 2016 when they reached the final of a ITF Futures tournament in Santa Margherita Di Pula, Italy.

As for the singles, Tsitsipas will return to action on Thursday to take on Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the second round. This week he is seeking to win his first title of any sport since February 2020.

“We’ve played a lot in the past. He’s a great opponent, he’s been giving me a hard time. It’s a challenge going into that match,” he said of facing Hurkacz. “He can serve well, he has a great backhand that he can play both cross and down the line, so I think that’s one of his biggest weapons. His forehand, I would say he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes from that side. But overall he’s a very solid, very consistent player.”

Tsitsipas has a win-loss record of 7-1 so far this season.

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