Dominic Thiem Ends Nadal’s Perfect Run On The Clay In Shock Madrid Win - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Ends Nadal’s Perfect Run On The Clay In Shock Madrid Win

The Austrian has stunned the 10-time French Open champion to claim only his second win against a No.1 player in his career.

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MADRID: Dominic Thiem has become the first player to defeat Rafael Nadal on the clay this year after stunning the top seed 7-5, 6-4, in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open. Meaning that Roger Federer will return back to world No.1 on Monday.

Thiem, who has lost his two most recent meetings against the Spaniard in straight sets, applied an aggressive game plan from the start. Holding firm on the baseline and pushing his rival around the court. Hitting 29 winners to 28 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Nadal’s tally of 12 and 29. Furthermore, Thiem also converted five out of his 12 break point chances in the match.

“I had to really increase my level compared to Monte-Carlo to beat Rafa here. He’s in a really great form. He won 21 matches on clay (in a row) and 50 sets. This is amazing. So I had to play an extraordinary match, and that’s what I did.” Said Thiem.
“I moved well. I was physically tough. But always against him, there are long rallies. You get out of breath. But it was a good thing, as well, today.” He added.

In what was a repeat of last year’s final, the quality displayed by both men was at its highest level to begin with. Nadal, who entered the clash on a 14-match winning streak, faced a stern test from the onset. 24-year-old Thiem demonstrated some of his best tennis to wow the crowd on Court Manolo Santana. Including a breathtaking 162kph forehand winner.

The courageous efforts of the Austrian paid off in the sixth game of the match. After failing to break early on, he finally broke Nadal down as the Spaniard hit back-to-back errors. Elevating Thiem to a 4-3 lead.  Holding serve, he was on the brink of taking a set off Nadal on the clay. Ending the Spaniard’s record run of 50 consecutive sets won on the surface. Tasked with the mission, Thiem missed out on his first golden opportunity. A forehand drifting long squandered his set point before another unforced error a couple points later enabled the top seed to fight back and level 5-5.

Despite falling short, another opportunity soon beckoned for the fifth seed after another lacklustre Nadal service game resulted in his second break of the match. Serving once again for the set, Thiem triumphed with the help of some heavy hitting deep into the court. Clinching the 7-5 lead with an ace out wide and ending Nadal’s unbeaten run.

On the verge of a shock victory at the Caja Magica, Thiem continued to outplay and trouble the 16-time grand slam champion. Who grew more and more frustrated on the court. A forehand landing out from the Spaniard secured Thiem a break during the early stages of the second set, moving him closer towards a place in the last four.

Exchanging further breaks in the match, just two games stood in the way of Thiem clinching his best win of the season (by ranking). Battling on to 7-5, 5-3, the Austrian then recovered from 0-40 to deuce against the Nadal serve. Shortly after Thiem went on to seal the victory with another forehand cross-court winner.

“I tried to come back. I tried to do it. I tried to do it a couple of times. But I haven’t been good enough today.” Said Nadal. “He was better than me today. That’s the end of the story. Some days you don’t play as good as you would like to play. Also when that happens it’s because your opponent is doing really well.

Set to lose the No.1 ranking next week, Spaniard praised Thiem following their latest match. This week he was bidding to win his fourth consecutive title on the ATP Tour and his 78th overall.

“I am playing against one of the best players of the world. He played well. We played in special conditions. The ball flies more here.” Nadal evaluated. “It was a little bit more difficult to have the control of the ball. I was not under control of the point almost never during the match.”

Playing in the semi-finals of the tournament for a second consecutive year, Thiem will take on Kevin Anderson next. Who defeated Dusan Lajovic in his match earlier in the day. The South African joked after his win that he would rather play Thiem than Nadal.

“I’m happy that I play him tomorrow the first time on clay. We always played on pretty fast hard courts. But still, he serves great. His serve is also working very well here in the altitude I think.” Thiem said about Anderson.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be completely different, like today, obviously against Kevin. But I try to go in the same way, to have the same attitude like today. I think then it can be a good match for me.”

Thiem trails Anderson 0-6 in their head-to-head.

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Gael Monfils Joins Forces With Former Long-Time Coach Of Dominic Thiem

Will the Frenchman return to his best form with the help of his new mentor?

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Tennis star Gael Monfils will start the 2021 season with a new team setup after confirming the appointment of a new coach.

 

The former US Open semi-finalist has paired up with the renowned Gunther Bresnik who is best known for his time spent working alongside Dominic Thiem for over a decade until their split in 2019. Thiem is now coached by Nicolas Massu. Bresnik is the former Davis Cup captain of Austria and has worked with numerous top names such as Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz, Boris Becker and Henri Leconte.

Monfils has been training with Bresnik during the off-season but only now has it been confirmed that the two have formed an agreement to work together. However, over the coming weeks Monfils will be guided by another Austrian. Co-coach Richard Ruckelshausen will work with the world No.11 in Australia and has been appointed as the captain of the French ATP Cup team.

“I’ve known Gaël for a long time,” Bresnik told krone.at on January 9th. “With Ernests Gulbis and Stefan Lochbihler’s son, he worked on his shape here in Spain (during the off-season).”

The 34-year-old will be looking to get back on top form following what was a roller-coaster 2020. Monfils started last year by winning 16 matches within a three-month period. However, following the pause in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic he struggled to regain that form. Ending the season with three consecutive first round losses.

Monfils had been working with Liam Smith. The upcoming Australian Open will be his 54th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He has only reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne major once which was back in 2016.

So far in his career Monfils has won 10 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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Alex de Minaur Says US Open Breakthrough Was A ‘Dark Time’ For Him

A milestone performance at a major is usually a reason for celebration but for the world No.23 it was bittersweet.

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A turbulent 2020 season marred by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has only added fuel to the fire for Australia’s top ranked player Alex de Minaur.

 

The 21-year-old Sydney-born player is currently ranked just five places below his career high at 23rd in the world. At present he is the third youngest player in the top 30 on the ATP Tour after the Canadian duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Last year de Minaur broke new territory at the US Open with a run to the quarter-finals in what is his best performance at a Grand Slam to date. At Flushing Meadows he scored wins over the likes of Richard Gasquet, Karen Khachanov and Vasek Pospisil. He was stopped in his tracks by Dominic Thiem who went on to win the title.

Despite his New York run, de Minaur believes it wasn’t his ‘best achievement.’ Even though he had only reached the fourth round of a major once in 11 attempts leading up to it. For him, mentally he wasn’t in the best place due to the effects lockdown had on him last year. During the 2020 Tour shutdown he was residing in his training camp in Spain.

2020 was a tough year. Obviously I had my best result at a Slam (Grand Slam tournament) but it doesn’t feel like my best achievement, de Minaur told ABC News Australia.
“It was still a dark time. I wasn’t feeling great. It was just mentally — I wouldn’t say — my best performance.
“I ended up putting a couple of matches together and I had my best result. It’s still something to be proud of but still 2020 as a whole, I would say, I had a lot of expectations for it and … it’s just fuelling the hunger for 2021, to make it even better.”

Striving for a bigger and better year, the Australian started 2021 off in the best possible way by winning his fourth ATP title at the Antalya Open in Turkey. His most high-profile win at the tournament was over world No.16 David Goffin in the semi-finals. As for the months ahead, de Minaur is staying coy about his expectations.

I’ve got my goal in my head of where I want to be when 2021 finishes up, but it’s a goal that I don’t like to say out loud,” he said.
“It’s a goal that me and my team had and this is a strong start. Realistically I want to keep pushing myself up the rankings, keep putting myself at the end of weeks and keep pushing these top guys.
“That’s where I believe I should be and where I want to be and I’ll do everything I can to get there.”

The next test will be the ATP Cup where de Minaur will be hoping to guide his country to the title. It was at the tournament last year where he suffered an injury which ruled him out of the Australian Open.

“Hopefully I can be playing my best tennis at the ATP Cup and the Aussie Open,” he concluded.

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Andy Murray won’t travel to Australia

Andy Murray will miss next month’s Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago.

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Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray has made it official, he won’t be making the trip down under after working with Tennis Australia to find a viable solution to make it work.

 

“We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work.”

Murray was scheduled to fly to Australia with one of charter flights but due to a positive Covid test wasn’t able to make the flight and put his tournament in jeopardy.

Although he missed the chartered flights there was still a small chance he would play but had to workout an agreement with Tennis Australia to make it work. However it didn’t work and was gutted with the news.

“I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”

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