Rafael Nadal storms into semi-final with dominant win over Tiafoe - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal storms into semi-final with dominant win over Tiafoe

Rafael Nadal progressed to his fifth Australian Open semi-final with a comprehensive win over rising star Frances Tiafoe.

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

Rafael Nadal produced an impressive performance to see off Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 6-2 and advance to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the fifth time.

 

The emphatic scoreline means that the Spaniard, 32, is still yet to drop a set in the event this year. And it sets him up perfectly to push on and try and claim his second title in Melbourne.

It was a disappointing end to the American’s run. However, he can be justifiably proud of his efforts, especially during his wins over Kevin Anderson and Gregor Dimitrov, and it was clear to see today that his previous matches had taken a lot out of him.

Nadal raced through his opening service game to win it to love. He then immediately attacked Tiafoe’s serve and gained an immediate break.

That was all the Spaniard needed. He dominated on serve throughout the set and won 20 of the 23 points behind it, which enabled him to wrap it up 6-3 in just 31 minutes.

Tiafoe fights hard in the second set

The American made the worst possible start to the second set. He played a poor game on serve and lost it to love.

To his credit, Tiafoe responded well and fought for everything in the next few games. He earned his first break point of the match in game four after he won a 20-shot rally. However, he sent his next return just long.

The American then got another chance immediately when Nadal pulled a forehand wide. But again Tiafoe was unable to take advantage as he hit a backhand long.

Those turned out to be Tiafoe’s only opportunities in the set, as the World No.2 eventually held after three more deuces and went on to take it 6-4 without facing any more alarms on his serve.

Nadal ends Tiafoe’s challenge with early break

When Nadal broke the American in the opening of the third set, as he had done in the first two sets, the match already seemed as good as over.

Tiafoe hung in for a few more games to keep it to one break. However, his resistance ended when he made some tired errors and dropped his serve in game seven.

Fittingly, Nadal closed out the match with another commanding game on serve, which included a trademark forehand winner down the line.

“For me it’s very emotional to be back in the semi-finals here in Melbourne,” Nadal said in his post-match interview. “I’ve had some dramas at this event during my career so to be back in the semi-final after a while means everything to me.”

The Spaniard continued, “I feel lucky to be where I am after all the things that have happened. To keep competing at this level is why I wake up every morning to go on court or go to the gym with the goal to be a better player.”

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Updated Entry Lists For Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open

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The two ATP 250 tournaments will be played in Melbourne just before the Australian Open.

 

The Melbourne Summer Series will start with an updated schedule to give more time to the quarantined tennis players to get ready. Three men’s tournaments will take place in the first week: the ATP Cup and two ATP 250 events, where the entries are reserved for the players who are already in Australia.

Melbourne-1 and Melbourne-2 are scheduled to happen from the 1st to the 7th of February with a special format: the main draws have been expanded to 56 players and the qualifying tournament has been cancelled. That should give the chance to compete to the players who could not practice at all during the hard quarantine.

David Goffin, Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, Feliciano Lopez and many more players are committed to play the Murray River Open (Melbourne-1). Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Borna Coric lead the field for the Great Ocean Road Open (Melbourne-2).

Murray River Open (AUS, Hard), entry list:
Goffin, David (BEL)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)
Sinner, Jannik (ITA)
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Querrey, Sam (USA)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
Djere, Laslo (SRB)
Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)
Andujar, Pablo (ESP)
Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)
Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
Cuevas, Pablo (URU)
Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)
Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
Anderson, Kevin (RSA)
Monteiro, Thiago (BRA)
Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
Martinez, Pedro (ESP)
Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
Balazs, Attila (HUN)
Mager, Gianluca (ITA)
Kwon, Soonwoo (KOR)
Carballes Baena, Roberto (ESP)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
Martin, Andrej (SVK)
Lu, Yen-Hsun (TPE)
Uchiyama, Yasutaka (JPN)
Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
Majchrzan, Kamil (POL)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Dellien, Hugo (BOL)
Dzumhur, Damir (BIH)
O’Connell, Christopher (AUS)
Stebe, Cedrik-Marcel (GER)
Laaksonen, Henri (SUI)
Alcaraz, Carlos (ESP)
Van de Zandschulp, Botic (NED)
Cressy, Maxime (USA)
Coppejans, Kimmer (BEL)
Safiullin, Roman (RUS)
Vilella Martinez, Mario (ESP)
Torpegaard, Mikael (DEN)
Vukic, Aleksandar (AUS)
Haase, Robin (NED)
Stakhovsky, Sergiy (UKR)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Harris, Andrew (AUS)
Alt.2 Purcell, Max (AUS)
Alt.3 Mott, Blake (AUS)
Alt.4 Kubler, Jason (AUS)
Alt.5 Nam, Ji Sung (KOR)

Great Ocean Road Open (AUS, Hard), entry list:
Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
Dimitrov, Grigor (BUL)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
Coric, Borna (CRO)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Fritz, Taylor (USA)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
Evans, Daniel (GBR)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Cilic, Marin (CRO)
Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
Gasquet, Richard (FRA)
Paul, Tommy (USA)
Fucsovics, Marton (HUN)
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Simon, Gilles (FRA)
Chardy, Jeremy (FRA)
Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Vesely, Jiri (CZE)
Berankis, Ricardas (LTU)
Giron, Marcos (USA)
Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
Cecchinato, Marco (ITA)
Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
Londero, Juan Ignacio (ARG)
Albot, Radu (MDA)
Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
Coria, Federico (ARG)
Ymer, Mikael (SWE)
Sugita, Yuichi (JPN)
Duckworth, James (AUS)
Sousa, Pedro (POR)
Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
Daniel, Taro (JPN)
Polmans, Marc (AUS)
Nagal, Sumit (IND)
Bolt, Alex (AUS)
Mmoh, Michael (USA)
Ferreira Silva, Frederico (POR)
McDonald, Mackenzie (USA)
Machac, Tomas (CZE)
Troicki, Viktor (SRB)
Ymer, Elias (SWE)
Halys, Quentin (FRA)
Muller, Alexandre (FRA)
Gojo, Borna (CRO)
Tomic, Bernard (AUS)
Kokkinakis, Thanasi (AUS)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Harris, Andrew (AUS)
Alt.2 Mott, Blake (AUS)
Alt.3 Kubler, Jason (AUS)
Alt.4 Smith, John-Patrick (AUS)
Alt.5 Ebden, Matthew (AUS)

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Next Gen Star Carlos Alcaraz Praises ‘Idol’ Nadal

The rising star talks Nadal, Ferrero and his hopes for the future.

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Growing up in Spain is unsurprising that Carlos Alcaraz is inspired by the achievements of tennis legend Rafael Nadal.

 

The 17-year-old tennis star is labelled as one of the most promising youngsters on the ATP Tour following a breakthrough 2020 season where he won a trio of Challenger titles. Becoming the second-youngest player in history to do so after Richard Gasquet. It was also during the same season where he became the youngest player to win an ATP 500 match since the series began in 2009 and he ended the year ranked 136th in the world.

Finding his footing on the Tour, Alcaraz is hoping that he will be able to follow in the footsteps of his idol Nadal who has won 20 major titles so far in his career. The teenager believes the mentality of his compatriot is one that can serve as an example for everybody to follow.

Rafa is my idol,” Alcaraz told itftennis.com. “His hunger, his attitude. It doesn’t matter if he plays a first match or a final, his level of concentration is the same. He wants to win every match.
“His mentality is an example for anyone, a tennis player or any person. He motivates everyone because he never surrenders. Everyone wants to be the best, no matter if you´re an athlete, a football player, a doctor, a journalist… everyone has an objective in life.”

Alcaraz is currently preparing for the Australian Open after successfully qualifying for the tournament earlier this month. In Doha he scored wins over Filip Horanský, Evgeny Karlovskiy and Hugo Dellien. It is the first time he has qualified for a grand Slam main draw in his career. An impressive achievement for a player who is also currently studying for his Segundo de Bachiller exams and driving test.

Guiding the tennis prodigy on the Tour is Juan Carlos Ferrero. A former world No.1 player who won the 2003 French Open. The two have been working together since 2019.

“I’m very proud to have Juan Carlos as a coach,” said Alcaraz. “He has great experience and knowledge and I’m very proud to be able to learn from him.
“He contributes to my knowledge in a way that other coaches probably wouldn’t be able to. He understands the situations that I’m living now, because he experienced them in the past. He knows how to manage the pressure.”

It remains to be seen just how successful Alcaraz will become but the expectations are high. He is already the youngest player ranked in the world’s top 600 and the only player born in 2003 to be inside the top 400.

“I don’t focus on the records or if I’m the youngest player,” he stated. “I want to improve every day and to focus on my objectives. My aims in 2021 are to play at Roland Garros, to be in the top 100 and to finish the season in the top 50.”

Alcaraz is set to return to competitive tennis next week.

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Dominic Thiem Training At ‘High Level’ Despite Absence Of Coach Massu

The manager of the US Open champion has given an update on his current condition ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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Dominic Thiem will play the Australian Open without his principal coach Nicolas Massu after it was confirmed that he is unable to find a way to travel to the region.

 

Massu, who has been part of the Austrian’s team since 2019, was unable to travel to Australia earlier this month after testing positive for COVID-19. An unfortunate situation that also affected former world No.1 Andy Murray. Thiem had originally hoped that his mentor would be able to join him at a later date but that is no longer possible under strict regulations set out by Australian health officials. All players and their teams are required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before they are allowed to play a professional match in the country.

The absence of Massu has been confirmed by Thiem’s manager Herwig Straka who is currently in Adelaide with the tennis player. Straka is a top tennis official who also sits on the ATP Board of Directors and is in charge of the Vienna Open.

Dominic’s father Wolfgang leads the training and is in contact with Nico a lot. Although he is now negative, he will still not make it to the Australian Open,” he told neue.at.

Fortunately for Thiem he has avoided the fate of many of his peers who have been forced to go into a strict quarantine after being declared a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. All 72 players who have been affected are staying in Melbourne. Thiem is among the top three players in the world who have been allowed to quarantine in Adelaide under a deal struck by Tennis Australia.

The training is going well and it is at a very high level. In his room he passes the time with series shows, computer games and reading,” Straka commented.

The 27-year-old is bidding to go one step better at the Australian Open than 12 months ago where he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic. In that final he led the match by two sets to one before losing. Since then Thiem has broken new territory by winning his maiden major title at Flushing Meadows in New York.

‘Like a student’

Providing a glimpse into what it is like staying in Adelaide, Straka says he still had ‘much to do’ during the two-week period as he drew parallels between the current conditions and when he was studying. He studied law and Business before going into the sports industry.

“Since there is no room service for security reasons, we have to make the beds, do laundry and cook ourselves. A washing machine, a microwave and a stove are available in the room. It feels like back in the college days.”

Some have said Thiem and Co are receiving preferential treatment from Tennis Australia with their current living conditions. In a recent interview with UbiTennis, doubles player Marcelo Demoliner said ‘the top tennis players always had these extras, we (the players) are kinda of used to it.’’ Craig Tiley, who is the head of Tennis Australia, has also previously conceded that those in Adelaide are getting a better deal.

Although Thiem’s manager has played down just how significant the difference in treatment is between the two bubbles.

“It’s not that much better in Adelaide. The few advantages are that the player’s team can be bigger, that it doesn’t get so jammed during training times and that the rooms have a balcony,” he said.

Later this week Thiem will return to professional tennis by taking part in a one-day exhibition. Then he heads to Melbourne where will be leading the Austrian team in the ATP Cup which will be captained by his father Wolfgang.

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