From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells

It is showtime in the Californian desert and there is plenty at stake for the best players on the ATP Tour.

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Roger Federer (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

The 44th edition of the BNP Paribas Open provides an opportunity for the usual protagonists to continue their dominance on the men’s tour. With defending champion Juan Martin del Potro sidelined by injury, players will be battling it out for 1000 ranking points as well as $1,340,860 in prize money for the winner.

 

Here are five things to follow in the men’s draw this year.

Federer’s fight to stay in the top five

The day after winning his 100th title at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Roger Federer flew straight out to the Californian desert for his next challenge. The 37-year-old re-entered the top five this week, but faces a tough task in the coming weeks holding that position.

Seven out of the top 10 players on the ATP Tour are defending 45 or less points, however, for 2018 runner-up Federer he is defending 600 points. Meaning an early loss in the tournament will open the door for the likes of Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson to overtake him. To prevent this happening, the Swiss player needs to reach at least the quarter-finals this year to have a chance of staying in the top five.

This year is Federer’s 18th appearance in the Indian Wells main draw. A five-time champion, he has won 62 out of 74 matches played (84% winning rate). The last time he failed to reach the quarter-final stage was back in 2010.

How did the current top 10 fair in Indian Wells last year?

Ranking
Player
Age
2018 result
1 Novak Djokovic 31 Round two
2 Rafael Nadal 32 Withdrew
3 Alexander Zverev 21  Round two
4 Roger Federer 37 runner-up
5 Juan Martin del Potro 30 Champion
6 Kevin Anderson 32 Quarter-finals
7 Kei Nishikori 29 Withdrew
8 Dominic Thiem 25 Round Three (retired)
9 John Isner 33 Round two
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20 Round two

Can anybody defeat Djokovic?

Novak Djokovic will return to action for the first time since winning the Australian Open in January. The world No.1 is the only player in history to win every Masters 1000 tournament at least once. Since his resurgence on the tour last summer, Djokovic has won five titles (three grand slams and two Masters).

During that time Djokovic has looked unbeatable during certain tournaments, but has also suffered defeats. Losing to Karen Khachanov in Paris last year, followed by Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals. His only defeat so far in 2019 was to Roberto Bautista Agut in Qatar. Despite those losses, Djokovic remains the huge favourite heading into the event. He also has a prime opportunity to strengthen his number one ranking with only 10 points to defend from last year.

Should the Serbian prevail, he would tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 for most Masters 1000 titles won in the Open Era. Djokovic would also claim a record sixth Indian Wells title.

The Next Gen challenge

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As the first Greek player in history to break into the ATP top 10 this week, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas will be hoping for a strong run. Defending only 25 points, the Australian Open semi-finalist made his debut in Indian Wells last year. Going out in the second round to Dominic Thiem. Tsitsipas will be seeded ninth in the draw.

Alexander Zverev is the only member of the Next Gen contingent to win multiple Masters 1000 titles. Furthermore, two out of those three trophies have occurred in North America. The German recently settled for runner-up at the Mexican Open to Nick Kyrgios. Zverev’s record at Indian Wells is far from spectacular after winning just four matches between 2016-2018. It is only of one two Masters events where he is yet to reach the quarter-finals.

Other next Gen players to look out for include Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. 18-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, who is the youngest player in the top 100, has received a wildcard into the main draw.

Next gen players in the top 100 (ranked by age)

Ranking
Player
Age
58 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18
25 Denis Shapovalov 19
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20
24 Alex de Minaur 20
66 Ugo Humbert 20
94 Casper Ruud 20
3 Alexander Zverev 21
35 Frances Tiafoe 21
46 Taylor Fritz 21
59 Reilly Opelka 21
61 Jaume Munar 21

Will Nadal maintain his strong record?

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It has been six years since Rafael Nadal last triumph in Indian Wells. Overall, he has won 50 matches in the tournament to date since making his debut back in 2003. To put that into perspective, Indian Wells if his third most successful Masters event in terms of wins after Monte Carlo (68) and Rome (56).

The 11-time French Open champion is seeking to reach his second final of the tour in 2019. His current win-loss record the season stands at 7-2. He has won at least one ATP title every year since 2004.

“I know that the season is long. My first priority, more than winning titles or not, is to be happy. To be happy, I need to be healthy. I’m going to do the things that give me a better chance to be healthy more than anything. That’s the priority. If I am healthy, I am competitive, I am happy, I have the chance to win tournaments.” Nadal told reporters following the Australian Open final.

So far in his career, Nadal has achieved nine wins over top 10 players in Indian Wells.

Will Nick Kyrgios exceed or implode?

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After a stellar performance last week, some are regarding the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios as a threat to the draw. The Australian defeated three top 10 players on route to winning Acapulco. His first ATP title since January 2018.

“It’s hopefully an example for people who are struggling and getting in some places you don’t think you can get out of. If I can do it, you can do it,” Kyrgios said following his triumph. “I was really down and out and didn’t know what I was going to do, but you have a week like this and things can change.”

Consistency has been an Achilles heel for the 23-year-old in recent months. Besides being hampered by numerous injury issues, Kyrgios has been criticised throughout his career for his controversial attitude on the court. The most recent being from Nadal, who said he lacks ‘respect.’ Something that was heavily disputed by Kyrgios himself.

“I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things,” Kyrgios admits.

A player that likes the big stages of the sport, it remains to see how Kyrgios will fair. It was at the 2017 edition of Indian Wells where he stunned both Zverev and Djokovic on route to the quarter-finals. Kyrgios missed last year’s tournament due to injury.

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Bianca Andreescu Looking Forward To Roland Garros Challenge After Training In Spain

Bianca Andreescu is looking forward to Roland Garros after improving her fitness at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.

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Bianca Andreescu (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

Bianca Andreescu is looking forward to the challenge at Roland Garros after training in Mallorca, Spain. 

 

The Indian Wells champion hasn’t played a WTA match since retiring to Anett Kontaveit in Miami in March as she has been recovering from a shoulder injury.

However it seems the Canadian is raring to go ahead of the French Open next week after a couple of weeks of training at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.

Speaking to the Rafa Nadal Academy, Andreescu has said she is looking forward to the French Open after improving her fitness, “It’s actually going really well, I’m progressing in my tennis day-by-day,” the Canadian said in Mallorca.

“This is a good period for me because I’m working on my fitness, which is very important for the clay season. So I’m really looking forward to what I can do at the French Open. Clay is one of my favourite surfaces, so I’m looking forward to one of my favourite slams.”

The 18 year-old will be the 22nd seed for Roland Garros as she looks to make a deep run in Paris. With her game of variety and unpredictability causing trouble on the American hard courts, you can only imagine how well it will translate on the clay.

As well as her preparation for Roland Garros, Andreescu also spoke about her time in Mallorca and why she likes going back to Spain, “The courts are incredible, the people are very nice and the food is good,” she said.

“Spain is my favourite country. I’ve been to Barcelona and Madrid and now Mallorca I got to visit, it’s been really nice.”

Now Andreescu looks for a week of training in Paris as she will find out who her first round opponent is on Thursday evening, when the draw is made.

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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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