Rafael Nadal, The Aussies Slayer - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal, The Aussies Slayer

Another routine straight-sets victory for Rafael Nadal who will face

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Rafael Nadal at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

After playing his first round against an Australian (James Duckworth) who “went on court with the determination [not] to play tennis the way that I understand tennis”, Rafael Nadal in his second round got to play an Australian (Matthew Ebden) who plays a more “traditional” kind of tennis, that is where you do not hit with all your might whatever fuzzy yellow round thing happens to be in your striking range.

 

Sporting his brand new sleeveless “New York City taxi” yellow shirt with chequered black and white finishing on its neck and sleeves, Nadal continued the “cruise control leitmotiv” of this 2019 Australian Open where all the top seed have sailed unscathed and hardly challenged through the first three days of the tournament. On the other hand, Matt Ebden could be defined a “college-type” player, if it weren’t for the fact that he never went to college but indeed he is studying for his commerce degree while living the pro life on tour. His game style is quite versatile, he knows how to do everything, and he does everything “all right”, but does not possess a weapon capable of hurting Nadal or taking the rally in his own hands. The quick hard courts at Melbourne Park, although with not as quick playing conditions on Wednesday night due to the low temperature, would encourage an aggressive approach to take the game out of Rafa’s hands, but unfortunately for him Ebden never found the way to lead the rallies, neither from the baseline nor approaching the net.

Three break points for the Aussie at 3-3 in the first set where the only moments of uncertainty during the whole 1-hour 56-minute match. After Ebden ditched into the net a not too difficult backhand volley to squander the last of those three break point, an 11-3 run by Nadal ended the first set in favor of the Spaniard and the rest of the match was just another Rafa monologue.

The match was a bit more logical tonight – debuted Nadal in his post-match press conference, just a few minutes before midnight – He is not an easy opponent. It has been a very positive victory for me. I [am] happy the way I played. I started a little bit slow, especially on the return side, serving I think was good from the beginning. Then I saved that game in the 3-All. After that things changed. I think I played well“.

When questioned about the level of his game by the Spanish press, Nadal explained that “since I haven’t played a lot recently I am missing a point of reference to understand how well I am playing. The feelings are good, I believe I am hitting the ball well, but I can’t say more than that because I have not played in a while“.

The Spaniard’s third round opponent will be another Australian player, the 19-year old n.27 seed Alex de Minaur, who (as Nadal himself put it) is “half Spanish” since he moved to Alicante with his family when he was 5 and has both Australian and Spanish nationality. “He is a very tough opponent, who has won seven matches in a row this year, so he is confident right now. Some people may say that we have similar games, but although we both like playing from the baseline, the way we hit the ball, the style of our shots are quite different“.

 

 

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Injured Bianca Andreescu retires From Semi-Final match In Hua Hin

The Canadian was looking to book a spot in her first WTA final of the year but was forced to retire after injuring her right shoulder.

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Lesia Tsurenko booked her spot in the final of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after Bianca Andreescu was forced to retire whilst down 7-6, 4-0.

 

The first set was extremely tight with the first four games being breaks of serve. Andreescu got the crucial break to lead 5-3 and served for the first set but the Ukrainian fought back to level the set at 5-5. Then Tsurenko was the one to break serve but she was able to close out the first set.

After the opener, the semi-final clash went completely one-sided with Tsurenko taking over by winning four games off the trot before Andreescu decided to call it quits. The Canadian had a medical timeout during a second set changeover.

Tsurenko gave full credit to her opponent and despite the retirement says it was a very difficult match.

“Bianca is such an amazing player she said. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today”. She said.

Tsurenko is looking to win her fifth WTA title and will be playing in her first final since 2019 in Hua Hin. She faces the China’s Lin Zhu who earlier in the day beat the number seven seed Xinyu Wang 6-2, 6-4, in one hour and 38 minutes to book her spot in the final.

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The US team secure their spot in the Davis Cup Group Stage with a 4-0 win over Uzbekistan

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Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek beat Uzbekistan’s Sayniar Fayziev and Sergey Fomin 6-2 6-4 after just 52 minutes in the doubles match of the best-of five qualifier to secure the US team a spot in the 2023 Davis Cup Group Stage. 

 

Ram and Krajicek broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the first set 6-2. The US team earned an immediate break in the first game and held their service games to win the second set 6-4. Ram praised the Uzbek team after the match. 

“Rankings-wise the Uzbek opponents are the underdogs. They are not the favourites in this match, but even in the singles they tried their best and they really fought until the end and that’s a pretty good quality to have. It helps you win matches you are not supposed to win”, said Ram. 

Denis Kudla beat Amir Milushev 6-4 6-4 to complete the 4-0 sweep.

The US team did not drop a set in four matches this weekend. 

The previous day Davis Cup rookie Mackenzie McDonald secured the first point for the US team with a 6-4 6-1 win over Fomin before Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul came back from 0-4 down in the second set to beat Khumoyun Sultanov 6-1 7-6 (8-6).

“I was excited to see Raj and Austin play today.They have practiced well all week. They had five great days of preparation and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. After that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them”, said US team captain David Nainkin.

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Cameron Norrie draws Great Britain level to 1-1 against Colombia

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Colombia and Great Britain have drawn level to 1-1 after the first two singles matches on the opening day of the Davis Cup Qualifier at altitude on clay in Bogotà. 

 

Colombia’s Nicholas Mejia clinched the first top 100 win of his career with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory against Daniel Evans after 2 hours and 31 minutes. 

Mejia fended off three break points in the first game of the third set. The 22-year-old Colombian player was not able to convert on two break points as Evans held serve in a marathon game to level to 4-4. 

Mejia sealed the win over Evans with his third break in the final game thanks to a backhand passing shot.

“The key to victory ? The attitude, the dedication, not getting nervous more than necessary. I have also learned a lot from previous defeats. I wanted to go out and win. I was not going to give them anything. I am very happy for the point that I was able to give to Colombia. There is a long way to go to think about victory”, said Mejia in the post-match interview. 

Cameron Norrie overcame Nicolas Barrientos 6-2 7-5 in the second singles rubber to level the tie at 1-1. 

Norrie earned an early break at the start of the first set. The British player closed out the first set 6-2 with a double break in the seventh game. 

Norrie started the second set with an immediate break in the first game. Barrientos broke straight back with his first break of the match in the second game to draw level to 1-1. The Colombian player earned five break points on return at 1-2, but Norrie held serve at deuce in a hard-fought fourth game. 

Barrientos earned another break point at 2-3, but Norrie saved it to hold serve. Norrie earned the crucial break in the 11th game to close out the second set 7-5 after a missed volley from Barrientos. 

“Especially given that we are the away team, they have got a huge advantage with us coming here on clay, at altitude, with the fans out there. That’s why we love it and that’s why we are out here playing. I really enjoyed the match today and I can improve on a lot of things going into tomorrow. I was able to put enough balls in the court to get over the line”, said Norrie. 

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