Rafael Nadal Outlasts Del Potro In Wimbledon Epic - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Outlasts Del Potro In Wimbledon Epic

Rafael Nadal battled hard and produced his best tennis to beat Juan Martin Del Potro in a remarkable five-set clash on Centre Court.

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Rafael Nadal edged out Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 6-7(7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 in an amazing Centre Court encounter that lasted almost five hours.

The win earns the Spaniard, 32, a place in the last four at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011. He will now take on Novak Djokovic in the second semi-final on Friday.

The first set was very tight, but Nadal did most things a little bit better than Del Potro and in the end that made the difference.

He served superbly and won 24 of the 32 points played on his serve. This meant that the Argentine never had a chance to break and only got to deuce once when he was returning.

By contrast, the Spaniard successfully attacked Del Potro’s second serve and won 42% of the points against it.

This pressure enabled Nadal to earn two break points in game eight. But the Argentine saved one by outlasting the Spaniard in an excellent rally and the other with a superb cross-court forehand that the World No.1 was unable to return.

However, Nadal gained two more break points in game twelve. And this time he took the second of them when Del Potro hit a backhand into the net.

Del Potro gains the upper hand

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The second set was even closer as neither player gave an inch in the first eight games. Both the Argentine and the Spaniard served superbly and held with ease to make it 4-4.

Then Del Potro made his move. He put Nadal under pressure and the World No.1 made four uncharacteristic forehand errors to drop his serve for the first time in the match.

Unfortunately for the World No.4, he failed to serve it out. He double-faulted to gift the Spaniard a break-back point and Nadal seized his moment with a forehand winner down the line.

Both players held to force a tie-break, and the World No.1 looked set to win it when he earned an early mini-break. He came up with a brilliant backhand return that Del Potro had to stretch for, and the Argentine hit a forehand just long to go 2-1 down.

Nadal’s advantage soon became 6-5, and he had the chance to serve for the point he needed to go two sets up. Remarkably, he double-faulted, and three points later Del Potro crunched a forehand winner to level the match.

The pattern of serving dominance continued in the third set. Despite some entertaining rallies, neither player faced a break point until the tenth game.

Then the Spaniard faltered. He made three errors to hand the Argentine three set points. But Del Potro only needed one of them. He slammed a forehand winner down the line to go two sets to one up.

Nadal roars back

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However, Nadal is not a 17-time Grand Slam champion for nothing. He drew on all his qualities and all his experience to play a near-perfect fourth set.

The Spaniard held twice with ease and then broke to Del Potro to love in the fifth game. He almost broke the Argentine again in game nine, but the World No.4 saved two break points to keep the set alive.

It did not stay that way for long, as Nadal served out the set with ease. During it, he had won 20 out of 26 points on serve, hit 13 winners and made just three unforced errors.

Del Potro faced a difficult time on serve early in the decider. He survived a nine-minute game to establish a 2-1 lead as the Spaniard tried everything to break.

The Argentine then took Nadal to deuce but he could not force break point as the World No.1 held firm. And Del Potro’s own serve was soon under pressure again.

The Spaniard strained every sinew to hammer huge groundstrokes into every part of the court. He was rewarded with two break points.

Perhaps Nadal tried a little too hard to win the first one. Del Potro hit a cross-court short-angle forehand and the Spaniard returned it. He then tried to turn quickly to reach the next ball and fell backwards onto the grass.

The World No.1 briefly looked annoyed, but shrugged it off to slam a cross-court backhand winner past the Argentine and seal a vital break.

Nadal’s advantage almost vanished in the next game, but he dug in to save two break points and open up a 4-2 lead.

Del Potro fights but Nadal holds on

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Del Potro refused to give in. He hit a brilliant forehand on the run to earn a break point in game eight, and then almost managed to a get a backhand volley over the net at full stretch.

It developed into an epic game that lasted nearly 15 minutes. The Argentine gained two more break points but the Spaniard battled hard and saved them both before whipping in a forehand winner to make it 5-3.

After 292 extraordinary minutes on court, Nadal clinched victory with a backhand volley into the open court as Del Potro slipped again.

The Spaniard then showed his class after a brief celebration. He went over and hugged the Argentine as both players realised what an incredible match they had just shared.

“It was a very emotional match,” Nadal said in his post-match interview. “I think it was great-quality tennis, especially in the last set when there were some amazing points.”

“I feel sorry for Juan-Martin. He’s an amazing opponent and an amazing player, and in some ways he deserved the victory too. Last year I lost a match like this, but today it went for me.”

The Spaniard continued: “It’s a great feeling (to win), and it’s a very important achievement for me to be back in the Wimbledon semi-final.”

 

 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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