Juan Martin del Potro Relishes ‘New Career' As He Targets Grand Slam Glory - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin del Potro Relishes ‘New Career’ As He Targets Grand Slam Glory

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Juan Martin del Potro (zimbio.com)

Starting his new season at the ASB Classic in New Zealand, Juan Martin del Potro is just thankful that he is once again able to play on the tour.

Just over two years ago, the Argentine was contemplating retirement after missing months of tennis due to a serious wrist injury. It was a dark time for del Potro, but he refused to give up on his dream. The determination of the former US Open champion is one thing that makes him one of the most popular figures on the men’s tour, along with his ‘nice guy’ attitude.

Del Potro currently lies 12th in the ATP Emirates rankings. Last year he successfully defended his title at the Stockholm Open and reached the semifinals of the US Open during what he describes as his ‘new career.’

“My game now, I’m playing the slices, I’m playing a different game to a few years ago,” he told reporters on Monday.

As he closes in on returning back into the top 10 for the first time since 2014, Del Potro continues to undergo extensive treatment on his body to avoid another lengthy hiatus. For him, the treatment isn’t a precautionary measure. It is mandatory to keep him playing.

“I have treatment for two to three hours a day every time. That’s what I have to do if I want to keep playing tennis.” Del Potro explained.
“But I’m happy with that and I’m dealing with all these treatments. I still want to improve.
“I have a new career after all my problems,” he added.
“I’m enjoying my tennis even more than years ago, but I still have goals to reach and I’m working for that.”

Australian Open goals

One of the goals on the mind of the 29-year-old is more success in the grand slams. He is one of only three players outside of the ‘Big Four’ to win a major title since 2009. A two-time quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, del Potro is quietly relishing his chances in Melbourne following the series of high profile withdrawals. Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori have both withdrawn. Meanwhile Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka are yet to play a tour match this season.

Del Potro’s confidence in the majors received a boost during last year’s US Open. In the last eight he defeated Roger Federer to reach his first grand slam semifinal for four years. His run was ended by eventual champion Nadal.

“I was close last year in the US Open, beating Roger [Federer] and then Rafa [Nadal] had a great tournament.” He recounted.
“But you never know… if my body feels strong enough to play with these guys, I will have a chance to compete at that level.
“The most exciting part of my life is trying to win another big event.”

Seeded second in this week’s ASB Classic, Del potro could climb back inside the top 10 if he goes deep in the draw. It is a remarkable situation for a player that has undergone three wrist surgeries and played only six tournaments between January 2014 – December 2015. Whilst the milestone is within reach, the Argentine remains grateful about where he is ranked now.

“I can’t believe my ranking now,” the world No.12 said.
“But I’m not playing for a number, I don’t care if I’m top 10 or top 30.
“I would like to play this tournament and enjoy the atmosphere with the fans.”

Del Potro, who has a first round bye, will take on rising star Denis Shapovalov or Brazil’s Rogério Dutra Silva in his first match.

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Linda Noskova cruises past Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart to clinch her third top 10 win

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Linda Noskova cruised past number 8 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-1 on her debut at this tournament in just 68 minutes to reach the second round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Noskova has claimed her third top 10 win this year. She beat Iga Swiatek in the third round of the Australian Open en route to her first Grand Slam quarter final and Maria Sakkari in Doha. 

Noskova raced out to a 5-1 lead with two breaks of serve in the first and third games. Ostapenko pulled one break back in the eighth game for 3-5. Noskova earned three set points in the ninth game with a return winner and converted her first chance to clinch the first set 6-3. 

Noskova broke twice in the second and fourth games to cruise through the second set 6-1. 

Noskova converted all her five break points. 

Marketa Vondrousova beat Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes to reach the second round. The reigning Wimbledon champion converted four of her eight break points. 

Vondrousova went down 2-4 down in the first round, but she came back by winning four games to clinch the first set 6-4. Vondrousova broke in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. The Czech player earned three game points to lead 4-1, but Vekic pulled back on serve at 3-2 with a passing winner. Vondrousova earned another break to take a 5-3 lead after a drop-shot misfire by Vekic and served out the win with two consecutive aces. Vondrousova now leads 2-1 in her head-to-head matches against Vekic. 

Elise Mertens overcame Tatjana Maria 6-1 4-6 6-0 to set up the first clash of her career against world number 1 Iga Swiatek. 

“At the age of 22, it’s unbelievable what Swiatek has already achieved. Definitely in the future, she will achieve a lot more. She is a bit like an all-court, all-around player, so you don’t really find a lot of weaknesses. That’s why she is world number 1”, said Mertens. 

This year’s Abu Dhabi champion Jasmine Paolini cruised past her doubles partner Sara Errani 6-1 6-0 with three breaks of serve in each set. 

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Rafael Nadal makes a winning come-back against Flavio Cobolli in Barcelona

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Rafael Nadal made a winning come-back by beating Italy’s Flavio Cobolli 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The twelve-time Barcelona champion won his third match this year. 

Nadal is playing just his second tournament of the year and his first since last January, when he reached the quarter final in Brisbane. 

Nadal converted two of his eight break points and held four service games in the first set. The Spaniard held serve from 0-30 down in the first set. Cobolli faced two break points in the fourth game and saved them. The Italian player wasted a game point and was broken on Nadal’s third break point after a backhand error. Nadal consolidated the break by holding serve with a service winner to take a 4-1 lead. Cobolli faced four break points in the sixth game, but he saved three of these break points with service winners and held serve with a powerful serve to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve at love in the seventh game with a service winner.

Cobolli missed a game point after Nadal’s backhand crosscourt winner, as he was serving to stay in the set in the eighth game. Nadal earned a set point after a forehand error from Cobolli and converted it, when the Italian player netted a forehand. 

Cobolli earned his first break point in the opening game of the second set. Nadal fended it off with a drop shot winner to hold serve after Cobolli’s forehand error. 

Nadal earned two break points, as Cobolli netted a backhand in the second game. The home star converted his break point to open up a 2-0 lead, as Cobolli hit a forehand long. Cobolli broke back in the third game after Nadal made a backhand error. 

Nadal broke serve again in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, when Cobolli made a double fault. The former world number 1 player held his service game with a service winner in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Cobolli held serve to love in the sixth game with a forehand winner to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve in the seventh game after a forehand error from Cobolli to open up a 5-2 lead forcing the Italian player to serve  to stay in the match. Cobolli held at love to cut the deficit to 3-5. 

Nadal served out the win with a hold at 15 after Cobolli’s backhand error. Cobolli made 41 unforced errors, including 27 in the opening set. 

Nadal set up a second round match against Alex De Minaur. The 92-time titlist leads 3-1 in his four head-to-head matches against his Australian opponent. 

“Every time it is more difficult and especially when you are at an advanced age. It makes things even tougher. I am going through tough moments but at the same time, when I am able to be on Tour for a few days and practise with the guys then be able to compete a little bit, it means a lot to me. It’s still enjoyable enough to keep going. I am happy to start with a victory without a doubt”, said Nadal.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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