Novak Djokovic Dominates Nadal To Win Historic 7th Australian Open Title - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Dominates Nadal To Win Historic 7th Australian Open Title

The top seed produced an emphatic display to seal his third consecutive grand slam title and 15th overall.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has become the most successful male player in Australian Open history after crushing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, to claim his seventh title in Melbourne Park.

 

The top seed showed little weakness during what was undoubtedly his best performance in the entire tournament this year. Taking on Nadal, who last won the Melbourne title in 2008, Djokovic toppled him with the help of a sublime serving display. Winning 81% of his service points. Furthermore, the Serbian hit 34 winners to nine unforced errors and faced just one break point throughout the entire encounter. Making it one of the most dominant displays he has ever produced against the Spaniard in their historic rivalry.

“I’m just trying to contemplate the journey in the last 12 months.” An emotional Djokovic reflected during his trophy ceremony.
“I had the surgery exactly 12 months ago so to be standing in front of you today and to win this title and three out of four Slams is amazing. I’m speechless.”

The clash on the Rod Laver Arena was the 53rd instalment of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Prior to the clash, Djokovic narrowly lead their head-to-head 27-25. Pointing potentially to a close encounter between the two in Melbourne. However, the start to the match saw a stark disparity between the two.

Djokovic looked to be at home from the onset on a court that has brought him so much success. Meanwhile, Nadal was nervous and tentative with a series of errors undoing him. Throughout the opener, the world No.1 produced a serving Masterclass by winning 24 out of 25 points behind his serve. In contrast, Nadal dropped his first service game after hitting back-to-back errors. That sole break was enough to clinch Djokovic the first set. Serving for the 6-3 lead, a 21-shot rally concluded with a Nadal backhand ploughing into the net. Granting Djokovic his first set point, which he converted with the help of another mistake from across the court.

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Applying pressure onto the 17-time grand slam champion, Djokovic continued his emphatic offensive. Capitalising on yet another lacklustre service game from Nadal, which featured four unforced errors, the Serbian broke for a 3-2 lead in the second frame. Continuing to draw blood, the double break was soon secured with the help of some spectacular play from Djokovic. Who was producing his best level of tennis. Storming to a two-set lead, Djokovic close it out with a love service game that ended with an ace out wide.

Steam-rolling towards his 15th grand slam title, which is the third highest in the Open Era, Djokovic continued to dismantle his opponent. Capitalising on the backfiring of Nadal’s trademark forehand down the line, another early break in the third set move him to a 3-1 lead. Doing so with the help of a drop shot.

It wasn’t until almost 110 minutes into the match that Djokovic faced his first break point. A clear indication of his dominance against the world No.2. Once again he denied Nadal the chance of generating momentum as he fought back to hold serve and edge closer to the title with a 4-2 lead in the third set. Destroying the mini threat, it was a pulsating forehand winner down the line that granted Djokovic a duo of match points. After failing to convert his first, he prevailed on his second after a Nadal backhand drifted long.

Nadal vows to be better

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After being denied the chance to end his 11-year title drought in Melbourne, Nadal has vowed to improve his game further. The Australian Open was his first tournament on the tour since September. In recent months the 32-year-old has been blighted by injury issues concerning his knee, abdomen and thigh. On top of that, he also underwent minor surgery on his ankle in November.

“It has been an emotional two weeks. Even if tonight wasn’t my best day, I had somebody that played much better than me tonight.” Said Nadal.
“It’s been a very important two weeks for me. I have been going through some tough moments over the past year. Only having the chance to play in nine events and having to retire in two of them.

Now with his injury woes hopefully behind him, Nadal hopes his Melbourne run will elevate him to success later on in the season. In the tournament he scored two wins over seeded players – Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I really believed I played some good tennis. This is going to be some good energy for what’s coming.” He said.
“I’m going to keep playing hard, keep fighting hard to be a better player.”

The resurgence of Nadal has also gained praise from Djokovic. He has now lost eight consecutive matches against the Serbian on a hard-court.

“You are showing to me and all your other colleagues what is the definition of the fighting spirit and resilience.” Djokovic said during his tribute to Nadal.

The hat-trick of hat-tricks

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Djokovic has now won three consecutive grand slam titles in a row after Wimbledon and the US Open. He has become the first player in history to claim three consecutive major trophies on three different occasions. He has previously done so during 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.

“I would like to thank my team for supporting me. It is an individual sport, but you guys tolerate me on my bad days. Putting together a great successful formal that is working.” Djokovic said.
“Marian (Vajda) thanks for coming back to my team.” He later added.

Underlining his status as world No.1, Djokovic exits Melbourne with 2000 ranking points and AUS$4.1 Million in prize money.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1089484552450523136

 

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Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown

Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATPTour_ES - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.

 

After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.

The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.

It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.

Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.

However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.

The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.

An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.

At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.

Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.

There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.

Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.

Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’

After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.

“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.

As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.

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Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner

Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.

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The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.

 

Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.

“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.

It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.

That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.

In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.

That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.

After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.

“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.

With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.

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Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud

The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.

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Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.

 

The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.

“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”

Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.

“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”

The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.

At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.

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