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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Li Na, Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov To Be Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport has chosen the inductees for the Class of 2019. They are Li Na, Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov

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International Tennis Hall of Fame members and inductees at the 2019 Australian Open: (left to right) Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Li Na, Mary Pierce, Evonne Goolagong, Kim Clijsters (photo Twitter @AustralianOpen)

Chinese tennis great Li Na, France’s Mary Pierce, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, each a two-time Grand Slam singles champion among their many career accolades, have been elected to receive tennis’ ultimate honor in 2019 – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Li Na, China’s first global tennis star, reached the world No. 2 ranking and was a champion at both the French Open and the Australian Open. Pierce is a former world No. 3 in singles and doubles, and four-time major champion, having won a singles title at the Australian Open, singles and doubles titles at Roland-Garros, and a mixed doubles title at Wimbledon. In addition to his two major singles titles, Kafelnikov is a former world No. 1, Olympic Gold Medalist, and the winner of four major doubles titles.

The new inductees will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 22 in a special ceremony in Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, joined by many other Hall of Fame tennis legends such as Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Kim Clijsters, Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall and Cliff Drysdale.

It’s a pleasure to congratulate Li Na, Mary Pierce, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and to welcome them into the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” stated Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. “They are three incredibly hard-working athletes who set and achieved goals at tennis’ highest levels. This is a well-deserved honor, and we look forward to celebrating them as Hall of Famers in Newport in July.”

I’m incredibly honored to become a Hall of Famer. I love tennis and am grateful for all the opportunity it has provided me. I have loved seeing the sport grow in China and I’m proud to be part of that history. To have my career and China’s growing tennis history be recognized at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a great honor and I’m humbled and grateful. I look forward to the celebration in Newport this year and to becoming a Hall of Famer,” said Li Na.

Pierce remarked, “To be recognized alongside some of the most accomplished, inspiring people in our sport is a huge honor. It’s humbling and gratifying, and I’m thrilled to become part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Kafelnikov, who could not be in Melbourne at the ceremony, was the first-ever major singles champion for Russia. He commented, “I’m very honored to become a Hall of Famer and to represent Russia among tennis’ greatest champions.

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Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill

The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.

The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.

“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.

Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.

“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”

Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin.  Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.

Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.

“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”

As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.

“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares reach the doubles quarter final after saving three match points

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares fended off three match points to take a come-from-behind win over Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic by the scoreline of 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 after 2 hours and nine minutes in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The British and Brazilian doubles team, who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016, reached the quarter final, where they will face former Nitto ATP Finals Henri Kontinen and Jonathan Peers (Murray’s former partner) in the quarter finals.

Murray and Soares fought back from losing the first set by breaking serve in the second set and at the end of the end of the third set.

Murray and Soares reeled off five consecutive points to draw level to 5-5, as they were serving at 4-5 0-40, and won the final two games to seal their spot in the quarter final. Murray and Soares won 82 % of their first serve points.

Murray and Soares have reached the quarter final for the fifth time in their last nine Grand Slam tournaments.

Murray also reached the third round of the mixed doubles tournament. The Scottish player teamed up Bethanie Mattek Sands claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Robert Lindsted and Kristina Mladenovic.

Reigning French Open doubles champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came back from one set down to beat US Rajev Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 setting up a quarter final clash against US legends Mike and Bob Bryan. Salisbury and Ram opened up a 5-2 lead in the tie-break of the second set, but they dropped five consecutive points to lose the second set.

Lukasz Kubot and Horacio Zeballos converted four of their eight break points in their 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Australian wildcards Blake Ellis and Alexei Popyrin setting up a quarter final match against either Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey or Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow.

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