Dominic Thiem Powers Past Nadal To Reach Second Barcelona Final - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Powers Past Nadal To Reach Second Barcelona Final

Dominic Thiem is into his second Barcelona final after powering past Rafael Nadal in the Barcelona semi-finals.



Dominic Thiem (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem beat Rafael Nadal for the fourth successive year on a clay court after powering past him 6-4 6-4 to reach the Barcelona final. 

It was an impressive performance from the Austrian, who beat the 11-time champion in straight sets to reach his second Barcelona final.

As a result Nadal lost his first ever semi-final in Barcelona and it will be the first time he enters Madrid without a title to his name since 2004.

In the final Thiem will play Daniil Medvedev, who edged past Kei Nishikori 6-4 3-6 7-5 to reach his first ever clay-court final.

The start of the match saw both men feel their way into the contest as the third seed was playing some of the best tennis of his career in Barcelona this week.

But the first break of the match came from some uncharacteristic Nadal errors. A poor serving display saw the Spaniard miss four of his opening five 2nd serves as a fourth double fault sealed the early break for Thiem.

There was still a lot of work to do for the world number five though and he continued to pound his punishing backhand on Nadal.

It wasn’t just the backhand which was creating problems for Nadal as the forehand proved to be equally as powerful, creating opportunities for a double break. Although the gritty world number two remained firm and kept it to the break.

A masterful serving performance sealed the opening set for an efficient Thiem, 6-4.

The second set was a bit better for the king of clay but his footwork and the timing of the forehand continued to haunt Nadal.

A miscued backhand saw the Barcelona crowd silent as Thiem once again broke in the fifth game as he was in control and continued to be the better player.

Variety. Consistency. Risk-taking. It was all there for the Austrian as he mixed up his returning and serving, even using a serve and volley on the odd occasion.

There was nearly hope for Nadal after creating his first break points of the match in the last game after some hesitancy from Thiem.

But the Austrian kept composed, showed some gutsy play and sealed the match to beat Nadal for the fourth year in a row on clay.

After the match Thiem spoke of his emotions after beating Nadal again, “I‚Äôm always super proud if I beat him because he‚Äôs the best player ever on this surface and it‚Äôs always very special to beat him here on clay. We always had great matches today and also today it was very good. I was more lucky today and I got the win.”

The loss means that Nadal will enter the tournament in Madrid having not won a tournament for the first time since 2004 and it’s his first ever loss at the semi-finals in Barcelona.

Although he remains the favourite for Roland Garros, it is cause for concern for Nadal as he looks to improve his game ahead of the second slam of the year.

As for Thiem, he will play Daniil Medvedev in his second Barcelona final after the Russian edged Nishikori in a titanic battle.

The Russian’s win means it’s his 25th win of the 2019 season and his first ever final on a clay-court as we are set for a cracking final tomorrow.


Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after¬†what has been¬†a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in¬†Madrid¬†where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his¬†title defence¬†came to an end¬†in the fourth round¬†on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul.¬†

“Mentally¬†I had to be much better,”¬†Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose¬†and¬†you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.”¬†He added.¬†

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than¬†it was¬†ever before,”¬†he said of this year’s event.¬†
“Good for me, too, because¬†usually in Roland¬†Garros¬†I¬†don’t play that well.¬†The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,”¬†Medvedev commented.¬†“What is tough for me on clay¬†sometimes¬†is getting used to conditions.¬†Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to¬†kind of quite fast¬†get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a¬†type of¬†thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,”¬†Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies.¬†It starts from the mental side,¬†and¬†it¬†follows to the physical side.¬†The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s¬†I¬†think¬†plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some¬†type of¬†superhero to be consistent back-to-back¬†10¬†days in each event getting to the¬†very¬†end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to¬†get an understanding¬†and¬†how it is to pull that off. Then¬†they¬†should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not¬†going to be¬†the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or¬†customized¬†to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident



Novak Djokovic ‚Äď ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.”¬†Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday.¬†I didn’t feel anything,¬†but¬†I also¬†didn’t feel the same.
“Today¬†under¬†high stress, it was¬†quite¬†bad¬†– not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance.¬†Just¬†no coordination.¬†Completely¬†different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,”¬†he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was¬†just¬†completely¬†like a different player entered into my shoes.¬†Just¬†no rhythm, no tempo, and¬†no¬†balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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