Rafael Nadal Talks The Past, Present And Future Following Latest French Open Milestone - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Talks The Past, Present And Future Following Latest French Open Milestone

The world No.1 reflects on his career as he closes in on Roger Federer’s all-time grand slam record.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

At one point in his career, Rafael Nadal believed that it was inconceivable that he would become a 11-time French Open champion.

That all changed on Sunday as he continued his love affair with Roland Garros. A tournament where he has only lost two matches since making his debut back in 2005. Taking on world No.8 Dominic Thiem, the Spaniard overcame some tough resistance to prevail in straight sets. Becoming only the second player on the ATP Tour to win 17 grand slam titles after Roger Federer.

“If you told me seven, eight years ago that I will be here at 32-years-old having this trophy with me again, I would have told you that is something almost impossible, but here we are.” Said Nadal.
It is true that in my career, I achieved much more than what I ever dreamed. But at the same time, it’s true that I went through tough moments, a lot of times in terms of injuries.”

Nadal’s journey to the ‘undecima’ at Roland Garros has been far from smooth. After retiring from the Australian Open in January with a hip problem, he missed two-and-a-half months of the tour. But yet again it was on his beloved clay that rejuvenated his career with titles won in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome prior to Roland Garros.

“Coming back (from injury) and having the chance to win in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here, it’s very emotional for me.” He said.
“(Today) was a very special moment and to receive that minute or two minutes of the crowd Supporting (standing ovation), that feeling in that moment was difficult to describe. Very emotional for me.”

The future

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At the age of 32, Nadal joins an elite group. He is one of only four men to have won three or more majors after their 30th birthday. The others are Federer, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. Despite the growing trend of players playing later into their careers, Nadal knows he will not be on the tour forever. Although he isn’t concerned about the prospect of retirement.

“I am not worried about the future. I always say the same: ‘Tennis is a very important part of my life, without a doubt, but it’s not everything.’ I have a lot of other things that makes me happy, and so I am not much worried about the future.” He stated.

Despite the laid back attitude, there are no signs of the Spaniard easing down. His next mission will be to add the Wimbledon title to his collection. Not since 2010 has Nadal won both the French Open and Wimbledon within the same year.

“I am just trying to keep enjoying, and I’m gonna keep playing until my body resist, and my happiness is still high in playing tennis. When that change, will be a time to do another thing, and I am not worried about this.”

The Federer comparison

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Now with 17 grand slam titles, Nadal is just three adrift from Federer’s all-time record of 20. The two players have won all of the last six major titles between them. Inevitably, some are wondering if Nadal will go on to break his rival’s all-time record given the fact he is four years younger than him.

“I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff.” Nadal said in reference to Federer’s record. “You can’t always be frustrated, if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you. You can’t live with that feeling.”

Whilst not fixated on the issue, this doesn’t mean that Nadal’s ambitions to triumph on the biggest stages of the sport have lessened. He has now won 79 ATP titles, which is the fourth highest tally in the Open Era.

“17 (grand slam titles) is an amazing number. I feel very lucky for all of the things that have happened to me. I am enjoying that moment. And that doesn’t mean that I will not keep fighting to give me more chances in the future.” He concluded.
“I play for my happiness, and I know that I had already amazing career. So I’m just gonna keep fighting for things and that’s it.”

According to his schedule, Nadal is set to return to action a week on Monday at the Fever-Tree Championships in London.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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