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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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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