Rafael Nadal: "I am having a better off-season than last year" - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “I am having a better off-season than last year”

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Rafael Nadal spoke to the CNN about his preparation for the 2019 season and the tragedy which hit his homeland Mallorca last autumn

Rafael Nadal is preparing to make his seasonal debut at next week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi. He will kick off the 2019 ATP season in Brisbane two weeks before the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion said in a recent interview with CNN that she is happy with his preparation ahead of the new season. The Spanish legend admitted that he is in better shape than one year ago. Nadal suffered from injury problems during the hard-court season and was forced to skip the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

“I am making a lot of steps forward since the foot surgery. I started practising tennis one week earlier than planned, and in higher intensity than we had thought. It was a little bit of risk that we don’t make it into the beginning of the season. We are practising more or less hard and we are excited to start the new season.Being honest, we are having a better off-season than last year. I finished 2017 very badly with my knees. I did not arrive very well prepared to the beginning”, said Nadal to the CNN.

Nadal lived up once again as the “King of Clay” with record 11th titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros. The Mallorcan player also won the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome for the 8th time in his career beating Alexander Zverev in a three-set final clinching the 78th career title and his 32th Masters 1000 title. He dropped just one set en route to his 11th triumph at the French Open, where he beat Dominic Thiem in a three-set final.

During the summer he showed good form on other surfaces reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon on grass and won his first Masters 1000 title on hard-court since 2013 beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

At the US Open he beat Dominic Thiem in an epic quarter final by the scoreline of 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a match which ended at 2 am local time. Unfortunately Nadal withdrew from the semifinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro due to a knee injury after losing the second set.

The 32-year-old Mallorcan player was voted by his fellow player as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmaship Award for the second time in his legendary career after receiving this honour in 2010. Outside the court Nadal assisted in the clean-up operation after a devastating flood hit his native island of Mallorca. During the interview to the CNN Nadal spoke about the tragedy which hit Mallorca last autumn.

“It was terrible. Scary and very sad. It happened in the village just next to us, just five or six kilometres away from here. It was a tough day. I really lived that tragedy, from very close. It was very sad for all the people that lost the materials, but especially the lives that can’t come back”, said Nadal.

 

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Past Champions Wozniacki and Kerber Cruise Into Third Round

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber continued their search for a second Australian Open with comfortable second round wins.

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Caroline Wozniacki (zimbio.com)

Past Australian Open champions Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber cruised into the third round with straight sets wins. 

The defending champion Wozniacki made it back-t0-back wins with a crushing 6-1 6-3 win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

While 2016 champion Angelique Kerber proved why she is one of the favourites for the title after a 6-2 6-3 win against Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The German will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she stunned Donna Vekic while Wozniacki could face Maria Sharapova on Friday.

Although it was Wozniacki’s first time of defending a grand slam title, she sure hasn’t looked nervous so far as she went too work against the world number 77.

A break to love in the second game sealed a good start as the Swede was made to pay for early match nerves. In this Scandinavian clash the Dane had 10 break point opportunities as she continued to be aggressive.

After a second break in the sixth, the clinical Wozniacki sealed the opening set in 28 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

The second set provided fans with a similar pattern as the Dane assumed control by breaking in the third game to love for a 2-0 lead.

Even though Larsson created a couple break points, she wasn’t aggressive in the big moments to capitalise as Wozniacki sealed her fourth break of the match to book her place in the last 32.

A great performance from Wozniacki, who is sending a real message that she has no plans of giving up her title without a fight.

The win from the world number three means she could face Maria Sharapova in the next round, who still has to play Johanna Larsson.

Kerber Continues Good Form

Another player who is sending a real message in world number two and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber who dropped five games in a great win over Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The Brazilian qualifier had to work very hard to keep hold of her serves but was broken three times without reply as the Kerber advanced to the last 32.

In the next round Kerber will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she knocked out 29th seed Donna Vekic 6-4 4-6 6-1.

The world number 200 is making the most of her Aussie summer as she makes the last 32 of her own slam after sealing her first top 10 win in Brisbane earlier this year against Daria Kasatkina.

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Angelique Kerber Eases Past Hercog, Goerges Ousted By Collins

Angelique Kerber set a marker for the rest of the tournament to follow after crushing Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2 in a dominant display in Melbourne.

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

Angelique Kerber sent a message to the rest of the field after she thrashed Slovenia Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2. 

The world number two has looked impressive all season and continued that form by dropping only four games in her Australian Open opener.

A clinical Kerber converted four of five break point opportunities to seal a comfortable first round win and will face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.

However the Melbourne heat got the better of 14th seed as she was ousted out of the Australian Open by in-form Danielle Collins 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4.

The 2016 champion headed into this year’s Australian Open having won five of her six matches to start the season in Hopman Cup and Sydney, with her only defeating coming to Petra Kvitova.

It was easy to see why she was one of the favourites to win the title early on as she dominated the Slovenian early on with her impeccable groundstrokes.

A 4-1 lead was secured in very quick fashion as the world number 92 was facing a very difficult task to try and outsmart the three time grand slam champion.

The 30 year old was only forced to save one break point in the first set as she won the opener in 38 minutes. Although Hercog had forced the issue a bit more in the second set, the same result was produced as Kerber opened up another 4-1 lead.

The Slovenian failed to convert any of her three break points as her 47 unforced errors would prove costly. Eventually Kerber served out a 74 minute win to progress into the next round.

After the match the German stated that she felt good despite the heat, “I am feeling and my body was feeling good and I’m happy I could play a little more than one hour today.”

The German who will be seen as a favourite for the tournament will now play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the next round.

Goerges Stunned By Heat And Collins

However it wasn’t a good day for another German as 14th seed Julia Goerges crashed out in a three set defeat to powerful American Danielle Collins.

The American played a very good last set and a half to take out the Auckland winner 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in brutal heat. The loss will be even more frustrating for Goerges who served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

It’s good news for Kerber though as she was scheduled to play Goerges in the fourth round and will now avoid the big-serving German in the last 16.

As for Danielle Collins she could produce a big threat in the tournament as she has an all-American clash with Sachia Vickery in the next round.

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Serena’s Bid, Halep’s Test and Wozniacki’s Mission: Five Australian Open Storylines To Follow In The Women’s Draw

What will the always unpredictable WTA Tour produce in Melbourne Park this year?

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It has been almost four years since the same woman won two grand slam titles in a row. The WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability, which draws an equal amount of criticism and excitement from fans. There is no telling what that this year’s Australian Open will bring, but here are the main topic’s to follow in the women’s draw.

Serena eyes No.24

During her comeback season last year, it was a case of so near, but so far for Serena Williams. Twice the American came within touching distance of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record for most grand slam titles. At Wimbledon, she suffered a comprehensive defeat to Angelique Kerber. Then at the US Open she was outplayed by Naomi Osaka in a final that was overshadowed by her clash with umpire Carlos Ramos.

“Last year she made an incredible effort to come back in shape after having a baby and actually she came back in a decent shape quite fast,” Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said.
“It was a big deal. She had a lot of medical issues after the delivery but she definitely was not 100 percent.
“And I think she’s fitter now … she came back (this season) to a very, very high level of fitness.
“So she’s ready. She’s ready to compete and when Serena’s ready to compete, she’s ready to win.”

Already a seven-time Australian Open champion, should she win again Williams would become the most successful female player in the Open Era to ever participate at the tournament. Her first triumph was in 2003 and last was in 2017, when she defeated sister Venus in the final.

“I think it’s possible for Serena to equal me,” Court told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper Sunday. “If anybody’s gonna do it, it’s Serena, but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favourite.
“I think it’s a pretty open tournament and I think an outsider can win it.”

Williams is yet to play a WTA Tournament this season heading into Melbourne. The only indication her current form occurred on December 27th when she defeated Venus in an exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championships.

The former world No.1 will make her 18th appearance in the main draw. The event where she made her grand slam debut back in 1998. At present she has a 89% winning record at the event (81-10).

Williams will take on Tatjana Maria in the first round.

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