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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French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism

The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.

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Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.

 

Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.

“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”

Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.

“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”

Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.

“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.

Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach

The tennis star has announced a big change to his team.

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Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is on the hunt for a new coach after agreeing to end his collaboration with Sebastian Prieto to continue focus on his rehabilitation from injury.

 

Del Potro has been working alongside Prieto since 2017 and achieved a series of career milestones under his guidance. Including winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and reaching a ranking high of third in August that same year. Their decision has been made to allow Prieto to focus all of his attention on Juan Londero. Another Argentine player who is currently ranked 62nd in the world.

“I want to share that I have agreed with Sebastian Prieto to end our partnership, so that he can work with Juan Londero, while I continue my rehab process,” Del Potro said on Twitter.
“I’m very thankful to Piper for all of these years together. He is a great coach and even a better person. All the best!”

45-year-old Prieto is a former ATP player who peaked at a ranking high of 22nd in the doubles. During his career, he won 10 Tour titles with all of those occurring on the clay. He also reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles tournament at the 2003 French Open.

It is currently unknown as to who will be taking over as Del Potro’s new coach. The former grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since last June due to a serious knee injury. At the Fever-Tree Championships in London, he fractured his right kneecap and was forced to undergo surgery to repair it. The second time he had to undergo that procedure within as many years after also suffering a similar injury at the 2018 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Del Potro is currently undergoing rehabilitation and it is unclear as to when he will be able to return to the Tour again. All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled until at least July 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although both the US Open and French Open are hoping to go ahead as planned.

So far in his career, the 31-year-old has won 22 ATP titles and earned almost $26 million in prize money. Earning more money than any other player from his country in the history of the sport.

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Novak Djokovic On Why He Didn’t Post Details Of Lockdown Training

The Serbian tennis star has shed some light on his recent training routines as he outlines plans for a Balkan tennis tour.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been training almost daily since the world of tennis came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic but opted to keep his activities out of the limelight to avoid any potential backlash from fellow players.

 

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the Pandemic with officials hoping to restart the sport in some capacity during the summer ahead of the US Open. Nevertheless Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row, has been able to continue practicing in Marbella. He and his family were staying in a house located next to a tennis court.

Speaking with Serbian reports on Monday, the 17-time grand slam champion admitted that he didn’t want to ‘anger’ others by posting updates on social media of him training. Showing that he has been able to stay active more than other players during the lockdown.

“I had the opportunity to train almost every day during coronavirus because we stayed in a house next to a tennis court. I played a lot of tennis on a hard surface, but I didn’t upload anything on the net so as not to anger other players,” he told The Telegraf.
“I started recently on clay, I had two training sessions here, I feel good physically. I was quite active, I followed my program. Of course, the intensity decreases because I was not preparing for tournaments.”

https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1264885745916968960

With uncertainty surrounding when the Tour may start again, numerous countries have created their own domestic tournaments. In Djokovic’s case, he is the founder of his own event that will be played across the Balkan region. The Adria Tour is set to take place between June and July with three top 20 players set to participate. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also taking part.

“I started the whole idea of ​​the project and I communicate every day with TSS (Serbian Tennis Federation) and the company that organizes all this,” said Djokovic.
“The current international competitions, ITF and ATP will not happen before the first of August, and even that is uncertain. Afterwards, I will have time again if things resume on a hard surface in America, because I will have a month to prepare for the continuation of the season.”

Should it all go to plan, the clay-court tournament is set to be played in Belgrade (Serbia), Zadar (Croatia), Montenegro and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Although it has been confirmed that the locations of the Bosnian and Montenegrin events are still not fully confirmed with the possibility of Sarajevo hosting one leg of the tour. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Prior to the Tour suspension, Djokovic was unbeaten in 2020. He started the season by winning three consecutive titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. Those triumphs enabled him to earn prize money of $4,410,541. He also earned just over $70,000 from playing doubles so far this year.

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