‘I Was Never In A Good Position’ - Rafael Nadal Speaks Out About Madrid Exit - UBITENNIS
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‘I Was Never In A Good Position’ – Rafael Nadal Speaks Out About Madrid Exit

The 16-time grand slam champion has reflected back on his first defeat on the clay this year.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

MADRID: Rafael Nadal has admitted that he wasn’t good enough against Dominic Thiem in their latest meeting at the Madrid Open on Friday.

The current world No.1 slumped to a straight sets loss to the Austrian. Ending his run of 14 consecutive match wins and 50 consecutive sets claimed on the clay. During the encounter he almost hit three times more unforced errors than winners at 29-12. Resulting in the loss of his world No.1 ranking next week.

“This week he has been the toughest opponent.” Nadal said of Thiem. “There is no discussion about that. This is the reality. If he beats me three times in a row, maybe we can say he reads my game and can beat me. Today he was better than me, and that’s all.”

Trying to pinpoint the reason behind his downfall, Nadal has partly blamed the technical side of his game. As the match progressed, the length of his shots dropped from towards the baseline to the middle of the court. Enabling Thiem to be more aggressive during the rallies. Another issue for the Spaniard was his second serve, where he won just 11 out of 32 points (34%).

“I think that today I haven’t read the ball good enough to be able to handle the situation, to put him in places where he didn’t feel comfortable to play.” He evaluated.
“I was never in a good enough position to place the ball on the lines, to open the court. I wasn’t putting myself in position.
“It’s difficult to harm a player like him because he’s a very powerful player, he has a lot of strength, he strikes the ball very hard, very violently. When you receive that ball, it’s very difficult to respond.”

The setback comes during what has been a successful clay court campaign for the Spaniard. After being sidelined with a hip injury earlier in the year, he returned to the tour by winning back-to-back titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona prior to this week.

Despite the disappointment, Nadal is remaining upbeat about his current place on the tour. Set to dethroned by Federer in the coming days, he is confident that things are going in the right direction ahead of the French Open. Where he will be bidding to win the title for an historic 11th time.

“I think I placed myself in a good position more or less. I am 3 in the race (ATP Race To London) of the year, which is the most important thing. I still have two good weeks on clay, and then I’ll keep on moving forward. This is the reality.”

Continuing to play down the significance of losing the No.1 ranking, the 31-year-old insists that his health is more important. An unsurprising revelation for a player that has been blighted by wrist and knee issues in the past.

“I lost the No. 1 before, but what makes me happy is I feel fit, can compete with possibilities every single week. This is my final goal: to be happy. That’s what I’m working on.” Stated Nadal.

Nadal will travel to Italy next to play at the Rome Masters. Granted a bye in the first round, he will open his campaign against either Damir Dzumhur or Fernando Verdasco.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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