How Maria Sharapova Ended Up Hitting With Rafael Nadal - UBITENNIS
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How Maria Sharapova Ended Up Hitting With Rafael Nadal

The five-time grand slam champion explains how she managed to practice against the king of clay in Rome.

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Maria Sharapova (zimbio.com)

Earlier this week a video surfaced of former world No.1s Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal practising together at the Italian Open.

 

The two players have a combined grand slam tally of 21 titles and have earned millions in prize money. Sharapova currently has $37,389,452 in earnings compared to Nadal’s $96,884,842. Hitting a lengthy rally on a court at the Foro Italico, some are wondering how the session came about.

On Tuesday Sharapova spoke about how it occurred following her first round win. The Russian world No.40 dismissed 16th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Setting up a showdown with former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. A player she hasn’t faced on the tour since 2014.

“I saw he was practising on the court right before me,” Sharapova said during her press conference.
“And I said to my team ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said ‘would you hit a couple balls with me?’
“And they’re like, yeah, what’s wrong with that? And I was like, a lot of things. There’s a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa.
“They’re like, no, you should. It’s not like you’re asking him to go on a date. And so I did.
“He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I’m really weird.”

https://twitter.com/MariaSharapova/status/995995610720489472

The video of the two has since exploded on Twitter. As of Wednesday morning, it has been retweeted more than 6300 times and has have received over 729,000 views. According to socialbearing.com, it is the most successful tweet of all-time (in terms of favourites and retweets) created on Sharapova’s Twitter account.

Now her session with Nadal has been ticked off on her bucket list, does Sharapova have any other players in mind that she want to hit with? One potential name mentioned is 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. The Swiss player is currently absent from the clay season as he prepares for the grass.

“I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t know whether I’ll get the confidence to do it or I’ll just be shy.” She replied when asked if she would ask Federer to hit with her in the future.

In the past Sharapova has been on the same court as Federer, but playing with him and not against him. In 2011 the pair teamed up to play in the Nike Clash of The Champions. Taking on Nadal and Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova will play her second round match at the Italian Open on Wednesday afternoon. Her head-to-head record against Cibulkova stands at 3-3.

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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Matteo Berrettini beats Andy Murray to reach the quarter finals in his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour and 25 minutes at the cinch Championships to reach the quarter final at the Queen’s Club in London without dropping a set in his debut at this event. 

 

Berrettini won his fourth ATP Tour at the Serbian Open in Belgrade, reaached the final at the Madrid Mutua Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros. 

Murray, who won the Queen’s title five times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, has made his come-back from a groin injury with a wild-card in his first ATP Tour level tournament since March. He was seeking his seventh quarter final at the Queen’s tournament and his first since lifting this title in 2016.

Berrettini fended off all three break points and his 28 winners to just seven unforced errors. The Italian top 10 player broke twic in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. He earned an early break in the second game of the second set and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point. I am really happy for my performance. I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I played better. I am just happy that he is back. I have worked really hard on my serve in my career since I was a kid. I grew up on clay, so I waas serving more kick serves, but we figured that I had to hit hard like this. Today it worked really well”, said Berrettini. 

Murray is unlikely to play in Eastbourne next week because of the logistics around the tournament bubble. 

“I made some good moves on court but my tennis was not very good. That’s the thing I will need most rather than the movement. There are some slight niggles in the groin and I will have to try and get rid of between now and Wimbledon. I need matches and I need to practise with top players over the next ten days”, said Murray. 

Berrettini set up a quarter final match against British player Daniel Evans, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Evans won 81% of his first serve points and fended off five of the six break points. 

“I am just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I did not want it that tight either. It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my serve when I was a set down”, said Evans. 

Denis Shapovalov cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-3 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and in the fourth game of the second set. 

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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