Rafael Nadal Closes In On McEnroe’s All-Time Record With Opening Win In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Closes In On McEnroe’s All-Time Record With Opening Win In Madrid

The world No.1 is on the verge of achieving another milestone in his career following his latest victory.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

MADRID: Playing in front of an animated crowd in his home country, Rafael Nadal kicked off his campaign at the Madrid Open with a 6-3, 6-1, win over France’s Gael Monfils.

Making his 13th appearance in the tournament, the top seed is bidding to extend his unbeaten record on the clay. This season he is yet to lose a set on the surface after claiming titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Taking on Monfils, whom he had a 13-2 head-to-head record against prior to today, Nadal applied the pressure from the onset. Hitting 17 winners to 12 unforced errors and converting six of his 10 break point opportunities.

“I’ve played a really good match. I beat an opponent who is difficult. The feelings are very good. This is what matters and what motivates me and gives me joy: the feeling to be able to play another day in front of the crowd here in Madrid.” Nadal commented during his press conference.

Battling through a nerve-stricken six-minute opening game, Nadal found his footing as the match progressed. Increasing the intensity in his shots at the right time to force an error from Monfils. His first breakthrough occurred two games into the match after a forehand error from the Frenchman handed him a break. Monfils continued to show glimpses of his talent to prompt cheers from the crowd, but he failed to find a way to break back. Enabling the 10-time French Open champion to seal a 6-3 lead after 41 minutes of play.

The animated crowd inside the Manolo Santana Stadium was one that frustrated Monfils. During the early stages of set number two he complained to the match umpire about the noise. Arguing that it impacted his serving. Nevertheless, Nadal took the incident in his stride as he seized upon his chance to get another break.

“To whistle is not in my way of understanding things. Everyone is free to express themselves the way they think is good. We also have to analyze why they are whistling.” The Spaniard commented about his home crowd.
“I think that today was something very, very gentle. I think it wasn’t anything serious.” He added.

From that moment on the match was a foregone conclusion as the Spanish No.1 roared towards the finish line. Even Monfils saw the bright side of the scenario. Applauding Nadal for a masterful drop-shot that he made towards the end of their encounter. Which was concluded with a Monfils forehand landing beyond the baseline.

Nadal now has a winning 48-set streak on the clay. An all-time record on the surface. Should he win two more, he would break John McEnroe’s record for the most consecutive sets won on the tour. The American achieved a run of 49 back in 1984.

“When I going to go on court tomorrow, my only goal going to be try to play my best and try to win the match. I don’t want to think about these things.” He said about the potential milestone.
“I  don’t say I don’t care because better to have these kind of things than don’t have it. But I am in a tennis tournament, and think about that, nothing else.”

Nadal will take on Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the third round.

 

 

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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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