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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Grigor Dimitrov – ‘Tennis Is A Microscopic Thing In The World Right Now’

The world No.19 speaks out about how he is coping during the tour suspension.

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Former grand slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has become the latest player to urge the governing bodies of tennis to make a united decision regarding when play will resume again.

 

The ATP and WTA Tours are currently suspended until June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it is likely that the suspension will be extended further with rumours that Wimbledon will be cancelled for the first time since the second world war later this week. Dimitrov’s last tournament was at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, where he reached the semi-finals before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

“Tennis is a microscopic thing in the world right now. The ATP supervisors I’ve talked to in recent days have a variety of theories, but for the time being, we can really only guess if we’re being honest.” Tenniskafe quoted Dimitrov as saying during an interview with bTV.
“The tournaments are cancelled, but we have a big luxury in tennis – there is always next week. Yes, it is very difficult right now, you have seen the Olympics cancelled. The only thing that is at the forefront is to go through this situation we are in, and then start rebuilding. “

The world No.19 is currently residing in California during the lockdown. Describing the situation where he is as ‘more casual’ compared to other parts of the world. California is where the Indian Wells tennis tournament was set to take place earlier this month before it was cancelled.

“In my opinion all federations and players, no matter what rank they are, must come together and make a general decision. Because it’s really not easy at the moment to talk to everyone about points, tournaments, competitions … But now other things are really more important – to be safe, to be healthy and to go through this thing.” He said.

During the suspension, the 28-year-old is keeping himself busy in other ways. Recently he has signed up for an online course with Harvard Business School. Becoming the latest of a series of players to do so. He also manages to keep in touch with his fellow rivals on the tour thanks to the world of social media.

“One of the first players I wrote to was Fabio (Fognini) because he was in Italy. Everyone is on Instagram, we know everyone what they do every minute.”

When the restrictions related to the pandemic comes to an end, Dimitrov has vowed to return back to Europe as he outlines the first thing he would do.

“I just want to go back to Europe. Whether it will be in Bulgaria or in Monaco – I do not know. I certainly want to go home, gather all my relatives and just spend time together. I’ve been in the US for over a month now. As things currently look, there will certainly be another two months. Hopefully it will be faster, but I just want to go home and be with my loved ones.” He concluded.

In the fight against Covid-19 in his home country, Dimitrov has made a donation to a hospital in Haskovo. The city where he was born.

Dimitrov has started the 2020 season with a win-loss record of 7-5. Besides his run to the semifinals in Acapulco, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has been ranked as high as third in the world.

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Tennis Could Be Suspended For ‘A Long Time,’ Warns Millman

The top 50 player isn’t expecting to play on the tour anytime soon.

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Australian player John Millman has indicated that he believes the current suspension of the ATP Tour is all but certain to be extended in the coming weeks.

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both the ATP and WTA Tour have been suspended until at least June 8th. Although those in change of both of those governing bodies have previously admitted they are uncertain as to when play will resume. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has said that ‘it is unknown at this time’ as to when men’s tournaments will resume. Meanwhile, Steve Simon has echoed a similar view during an interview with The Tennis Channel.

Speaking about the current situation, world No.43 Millman said the sport is in a difficult situation due to its global reach with both tournaments and players based around the world. For example the Australian started his season by playing four tournaments in four different countries across three continents within five weeks.

“We’re going to have to be pretty unified in terms of our recovery process before the tour can resume,” Millman told The Age.
“Maybe the tournament location has got the COVID-19 situation under wraps and then manage to contain it, but if someone’s flying in from South America, say, and their country hasn’t got a hold of it, then the tournament can’t (go ahead).
“You can’t have the tournament going when only certain players can get there. I think that’s
where the problems lie.”

The 30-year-old didn’t speculate as to when he and his rivals will be returning to the court, but believes it could be a while. During the coming week the fate of Wimbledon will be decided at an emergency meeting. The All England Club is pondering the motion of cancelling this year’s tournament. A move that has never been taken during peacetime. Wimbledon has been scrapped a total of 10 times during the first and second world wars.

“It’s almost like we have to have a vaccine or the virus has to run its course before there’ll be any let-up there.” Millman commented.

Besides trying to maintain fitness, many players like Millman are in a difficult situation financially due to a lack of income. He has managed to earn $290,705 on the tour this year before the suspension. This is the 44th highest total on the men’s tour. In total, 131 players have surpassed the $100,000 mark. Although the earnings don’t take into account travel costs, coaching, accommodation and so on.

“I just can’t see us playing tennis for a long time and now it’s a matter of trying to stay (the) fight, trying to scrape by a little bit while not much is coming in,” he said.
“You’re used to a bit of money coming in and obviously that’s not the case anymore. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s just not easy. You try and make do.
“But I don’t want to be a sob story, that’s for sure, because I know Australians are doing it a lot tougher than me.”

Millman reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year before losing to Roger Federer in a five-set thriller.

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Jamie Murray Speaks Out On Wimbledon Dilemma

The two-time mixed doubles champion shares his thoughts about the current situation and the problems that could arise.

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Former world No.1 doubles player Jamie Murray says he is unsure how much longer Wimbledon can be delayed this season ahead of a crucial meeting on its future next week.

 

The All England Club is set to hold an emergency meeting to make a final decision as to what to do with this year’s tournament. Including the possibility of cancelling the event for the first time since 1945. The tennis calendar has been brought to a standstill due to the covid-19 pandemic. There have been more than 500,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.

Speaking about Wimbledon’s potential decision during an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Murray admits that organisers face a difficult decision. Saying it would pose as a big challenge for them to reschedule the event. Both the ATP and WTA are currently reviewing their calendars with the French Open now taking place a week after the US Open.

“I don’t know how long they could push it back,” said Murray.
“They’re desperate to have their event on, it’s still over three months away and a lot can change in that time,” he added.

Murray has featured in the doubles main draw at Wimbledon every year since his debut back in 2006. He has won the Mixed doubles trophy twice in 2007 (with Jelena Jankovic) and 2017 (with Martina Hingis). The 34-year-old currently has a doubles ranking of 34th.

“For them, optics don’t necessarily look great, I guess, if there’s sporting events all over the world getting cancelled and they’re trying to crack on with things.” He commented on the scheduling difficulties.
“There’s a lot of other stakeholders, a lot of other tournaments to consider. Even things like daylight for the tournament. Once the tournament gets put back, there’s less and less daylight. When you play at Wimbledon normally, you can play until 10 at night.”

The UK is currently in a lockdown with members of the public only allowed to leave their houses for specific reasons. Furthermore, 1.5 million people have been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks. The government is hopeful that they can flatten the spread of the disease within this period, which is extremely close to the Wimbledon start date.

According to AFP News, any decision to scrap this year’s tournament is likely to have a massive financial impact. Between 2017-2018 Wimbledon made an estimated pre-tax profit of $52 million with over 90% of that invested back into British tennis. Furthermore, the BBC could also suffer a big blow. It is reported that the broadcaster pays in the region of $72 million for the TV rights.

It is unclear as to what day the decision will be made next week. Since its creation in 1877, Wimbledon has been cancelled a total of 10 times before. All of which happened during the first world war (1915-1918) and second (1940-1945). The event has never been delayed or scrapped during peacetime.

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