Rafael Nadal Holds Off Khachanov In Epic Clash - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Holds Off Khachanov In Epic Clash

Rafael Nadal drew on all his fighting qualities to overcome Karen Khachanov in an absorbing third-round contest at US Open 2018.

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picture: zimbio.com

Rafael Nadal battled to a 5-7 7-5 7-6(6) 7-6(3) win over inspired opponent Karen Khachanov to book his place in the last 16 at US Open 2018.

The Spaniard, who had never previously lost a set to the Russian in four previous meetings, faced a much tougher proposition this time during an epic encounter that lasted four hours and 22 minutes.

“I’m very happy to escape a tough situation against a great opponent,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “I have some things to work on for the next round, but the good thing is that I have a chance to improve.”

Khachanov played superbly in the first set. He broke Nadal’s serve in the third game when the Spaniard missed a forehand.

The World No.1 then hit back to level the score in game eight, but the Russian was undeterred. He punished a weak volley from Nadal with a good pass to break again for a 6-5 lead.

Khachanov kept his composure when the Spaniard saved three set points and eventually clinched the first set with ace down the tee. He fired down eight aces and 23 winners during it.

Nadal fights back

For a time, it looked like the Russian would take a two-sets-to-love lead. The second set followed the same pattern as the opener for eight games: Khachanov broke Nadal in the third game and the World No.1 fought back to make it 4-4.

But everything was different after that. The Russian broke again, and then the Spaniard broke straight back and held his own serve to love to lead 6-5.

zimbio.com

It was at this point that the pressure of sustaining such a high standard had an effect on Khachanov. He tried everything he could to hold serve, but Nadal eventually wore him down and he made an error to make it one set apiece.

Despite plenty of long rallies, the third set was a more routine affair as both players served well to hold six times and force a tie-break.

Nadal raced into a 6-3 lead in the breaker courtesy of two double faults from Khachanov and looked set to take it there and then.

However, the Spaniard made a couple of errors and the Russian produced a huge forehand to drag it back to 6-6.

The drama did not stop there. Khachanov saved another set point and then made a double-fault to give Nadal his fifth chance to go up two sets to one.

What followed was extraordinary. Both players gave everything they had to an engrossing 39-shot rally that ended when the Spaniard hit a deep, wide forehand into the corner that the Russian could only deflect away from the court.

Khachanov makes Nadal work hard for the win

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Khachanov looked tired at the beginning of the fourth set and dropped his serve in the third game. However, he recovered to keep Nadal’s advantage to one break, and that proved crucial.

When he was serving for the match, the Spaniard’s level dipped significantly and he suddenly found himself facing three break points. Khachanov only needed one: he brought Nadal to the net with a low backhand and then passed him with a precise forehand to level the score.

The Russian held onto his serve and then had one chance to break the World No.1 in the next game. However, Nadal snuffed it out to take the set to a tie-break.

The Spaniard controlled it throughout and powered his way to a 6-1 lead. Khachanov won the next two points but Nadal made no mistake to finish it 7-3.

 

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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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