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Now It’s More Like More like Indian Wells – Good Weather, Roger and Rafa

A Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds both were eliminated.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — That was more like it. Indian Wells, the elite suburb of Palm Springs — which is pretty elite its ownself — was what we expect this time of year, beautiful weather. And Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also were what we expect this time of year, playing beautiful tennis.

 

There probably isn’t a tournament from Melbourne to Toronto that either hasn’t won, but at this one, the BNP Paribas Open, the first big event each year after the Australian Open, both have been particularly successful.

Federer has won it five times, Nadal three, and the possibility one or the other will add another championship is very much real — and as always good for the gate, good for the Tennis Channel and good for Roger and Rafa.

“All the best players come here,” Federer said, addressing a stadium full of fans Wednesday, after his 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kyle Edmund, the relatively young (24) British player.

“You guys are having a good time,” he told a crowd that didn’t need the reminder, “and so are we.”

Nadal, whose 6-3, 6-4 win over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia came in the day’s first match, was a trifle less effusive than Federer, which given his 11 a.m. start time is understandable.

“I have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning,” said Nadal.

Federer and Nadal are one match apiece away from facing each other for a 39th time in their careers (Rafa has won 23 of the 38). And to the question of whether yet another opportunity against Rafa would still be exciting, Federer had a quick response.

“Yes, absolutely,” he said, “I think that’s also one of the reasons I’m still in the game, is that when I play the top guys I’m ready for it. For that, I train hard.”

Federer is 37 with 20 Grand Slams, arguably the best player ever, and we’ll get into that more when Roger discusses Rod Laver, the last to win the true Slam, all four majors in a single calendar year — and he did it twice, in 1962 and 1969.

Nadal is 32 with 17 Slams, including 11 French Opens, the most titles won in a single event by a male player. And since the French is played on the red dirt of Roland Garros Stadium, he is considered the finest clay court player in history.

So, in this non-major-yet-anything-but-minor BNP event, a Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, both were eliminated.

“I’m very happy this week,” affirmed Federer. “I hope I can get there. But I’m not going to underestimate Hubert.” As in unseeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, his next opponent — and the guy who upset Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

“And yeah,” agreed Federer, “Rafa looked supreme this week. He clearly also goes in against (Karen) Khacanov, but Khacanov played a good match just now against John Isner. I think that’s also going to be quite a test for Rafa. But same for me with Hubert.

“I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead, to be honest.”

Everyone else is. Big names with big games are the sport’s attraction. Time and achievement merge to create an irresistible blend. Nothing against Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khacanov, but if you had to rely on them to get headlines and ratings, well, you wouldn’t get either.

Federer, the Williams sisters, Rafa — they have earned their status. They’ve won. They’ve lasted, even longer than players did a generation ago, because of the emphasis on diet and training.

Federer, who was No. 1 seemingly forever, now is No. 3. Venus Williams, 38, a multi-time champ, is 36th and hasn’t won in a long while.

“You’ve got to be passionate about what you do,” said Federer.

Laver, 80, played in the ’50s and ’60s, first as an amateur and then as a pro, as jet travel was just beginning. ”What he went through, going from city to city,” said Federer, ”clearly he was ahead of his time. He brought something to the game.”

So have Federer and Nadal, who could bring even more if they meet here at Indian Wells.

ATP

Rafael Nadal claims his ninth title in Rome

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Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the eagerly awaited final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on the Centre Court in Rome to claim his ninth title of his legendary career in the Italian capital. Nadal has become the first player in history to win 34 Masters 1000 titles.

 

Nadal and Djokovic met for the 54th time in their careers and for the 26time in a final. Djokovic entered the Rome final with a 28-25 win-loss record and beat Nadal in three sets in this year’s Australian Open final by the scoreline of 6-3 6-2 6-3.

The top 2 players of the ATP Ranking won 12 of the last 14 Rome titles.

Nadal took a bagel win in a one-sided first set with three consecutive breaks and earned 59 % of his return points. Nadal broke in the first game of the opening set after a loose forehand from Djokovic. Nadal went up a double break to open a 3-0 lead with a forehand down the line and claimed the opening set in the sixth game with a service winner after 38 minutes.

Djokovic bounced back in the second set and earned a break point in the fourth game, but Nadal saved it with a forehand down the line winner.

The Serbian player saved three break points he faced in the seventh game of the second set and fended off another chance at 4-4. Nadal wasted a game point in the 10th game and sent a forehand long to drop serve in the 10th game. With his only break Djokovic claimed the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set.

The Serbian player earned his first break point of the match at 2-1 in the second set with a forehand, but Nadal saved it with an inside.in forehand winner. Nadal brought up three break points at 3-3 0-40 with a lob that Djokovic smashed into the net.

Djokovic saved the 4th fourth break point of the second set at 4-4 before breaking serve at deuce in the 10th game to close out the second set 6-4, when Nadal missed wide.

Nadal started the decisive set with an immediate break at deuce in the opening game. Djokovic saved a break point in the third game at deuce, but dropped his serve for the second time at 30 in the fifth game to trail 1-4 after a backhand error Nadal wrapped up the match with his third break in the seventh game on his first match point at deuce to clinch his ninth title in Rome and his 34th Masters 1000 trophy. Nadal has lifted his first title of the 2019 season and his first tournament since last August’s Rogers Cup.

Nadal won the Rome title for the second consecutive year becoming the first player to successfully defend a title in 2019. The Spanish player had not won a single tournament in 2019, but he reached three consecutive semifinals in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

The Spanish player becomes the oldest Rome champion in the history of the Rome tournament.

Nadal received the Rome trophy from former Roland Garros and Rome champion Gustavo Kuerten during a ceremony attended by Italian tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli and Italian tennis Federation President Angelo Binaghi.

“For me it’s always an honour to play in Rome. I played here for the first time in 2005. I thank the crowd for their support. I played the first set very well. The most important thing is to return to my best level. All titles are special, but this win means a lot to me, because Rome has a very important place in the history of our sport. I had a very difficult week. For me, as I have said ever day, winning titles is important, but for me the most important thing is to feel myself competitive and healthy. And then with the feeling I am improving.” Nadal said during a post-match interview with TennisTV.

 “I know if I reach my level, you can win or you can lose, but normally I will have my chances. Especially on this surface. I am very happy with my victory. It was a great match, I played well and now I’m just enjoying the moment.” Nadal summarised.

 “It is always special playing against Novak, against Roger (Federer). These kind of matches has been tradition in the sport for the last 10 or so years.” he said.

 “Novak is having a great season. Winning in Australia and winning last week in Madrid. It’s an important win for me, but what means a lot is winning again here in Rome. It is one of the most important events of the year.”

Nadal did not drop a set en route to reaching the final, while four-time Rome champion Djokovic won two three-set marathon matches against Juan Martin Del Porto in the quarter final and Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal and spent 5 hours and 34 minutes compared to Nadal ‘s 3 hours and 22 minutes.

“No, I don’t want to talk about the fatigue. Simply Nadal was the better player today.” Djokovic said during the trophy presentation.

 

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Rafael Nadal Claims Revenge On Tsitsipas To Reach 50th Masters 1000 Final

Rafael Nadal is into the Rome final after a 6-3 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas as he makes his 50th Masters 1000 final.

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Rafael Nadal (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal claimed revenge on Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-3 6-4 win to reach his 50th Masters 1000 final in Rome. 

 

The world number two got his revenge from his defeat to the Greek star last week in Madrid by cruising to victory I the Rome semi-finals.

It’s his first final since the Australian Open and the 50th Masters 1000 final of his career as he looks for an eighth Rome title.

In the final Nadal will play either world number one Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman.

It was a fast start from the Spaniard who broke in the second game for a 2-0 lead as he looked to send a clear message after recent struggles.

The world number seven though started to show why he should never be underestimated with his power from the back of the court and his positivity.

However some stunning forehands saw Nadal hold in a nine minute game as he sealed a 3-0 lead as he changed things up in his tactics.

Unlike in Madrid, the seven-time Rome champion used his forehand more than his backhand to punish Tsitsipas and be aggressive in the key moments.

Despite some good serving from Tsitsipas, it was Nadal who held firm to take the first set 6-3 and take the early advantage in this semi-final.

The second set saw Tsitsipas angry at the umpire at a few line calls as Nadal took advantage of the Madrid finalist’s emotional rollercoaster.

Some strokes of brilliance once again saw Nadal in the ascendancy as he broke in the third game for a 2-1 lead as Tsitsipas grew frustrated.

Despite Nadal threatening to break again Tsitsipas remained firm on serve as he wanted to force Nadal to at least serve out the match.

But some more insane shot-making and some fatigue from the Greek saw the former world number one close out the match and once again reach the final in Rome.

It was a good few weeks for Tsitsipas, who looks good to have a deep run at Roland Garros in just over a week’s time.

As for Nadal, it is his first final since the Australian Open and the 50th Masters 1000 final of his career, which comes as perfect timing ahead of the defence of his Roland Garros title.

A match against world number one Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman now awaits the Spaniard in his bid for an eighth title in the Italian capital.

 

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Alexander Zverev’s Search For Confidence Continues In Geneva As Roland Garros Approaches

Alexander Zverev is looking for some confidence heading into Roland Garros as he headlines the draw in Geneva.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev’s search for confidence continues in Geneva this week as he looks for some momentum heading into Roland Garros. 

 

The German has struggled for form this clay-court season having only won five matches in his six clay-court tournaments.

It has been a complete opposite from last year where he won Madrid, reached the final in Rome and made the last eight at the French Open.

This year has been different to last year though as he has had to deal with off-court distractions and has resulted in his lacklustre form.

Now the 22 year-old is looking to have some much-needed wildcard as he tops the field in Geneva this week on the last stop on the road to Roland Garros.

A first round bye means that Zverev has time to prepare for his first match against either Ernests Gulbis or Yoshihito Nishioka.

Should Zverev win that match, then a potential quarter-final against Andreas Seppi could await as he looks to hit top-form just in time for the second grand slam of the season.

Also in Geneva this week is second seed Stan Wawrinka, who begins against Feliciano Lopez or a qualifier and Munich champion Cristian Garin who begins against Taro Daniel or a qualifier.

There is also the possibility of Grigor Dimitrov being the main draw as he appears in the qualifying draw as he also looks for some confidence heading into Paris.

Canadians Headline Lyon 

In the other ATP tournament this week Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are amongst the headliners in Lyon.

Shapovalov will play either Ugo Humbert or Cameron Norrie, while Auger-Aliassime faces the winner of John Millman or Pablo Andujar.

The other two seeds with a bye are Nikoloz Basilashvili and Roberto Bautista Agut as they look to gain some momentum heading into Paris.

Other notable first rounds are Hubert Hurkacz against Pablo Cuevas while Monte-Carlo runner-up Dusan Lajovic takes on Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

Here are the draws for both tournaments with play beginning on Sunday:

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