After Double Victory In Rome, Rafael Nadal Vows To Put Happiness Ahead Of Title Hunt - UBITENNIS
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After Double Victory In Rome, Rafael Nadal Vows To Put Happiness Ahead Of Title Hunt

The world No.2 was in a defiant mood both on and off the court at the Italian Masters on Thursday.



Rafael Nadal (photo by Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Following a washout Wednesday at the Italian Open, Rafael Nadal was among many players required to play two matches within 12 hours in Rome.


Facing the prospect of a potentially long day at the Foro Italico, the 11-time French Open champion reminded the tour why he has the nickname ‘king of clay.’ Downing both of his opponents with little difficulty. In his second round match, Nadal thrashed France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1, before producing an almost identical victory over 14th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili (6-1, 6-0). In total, the Spaniard was on court for a total of two hours and nine minutes.

“It has been a very positive day for me. Of course, a day playing two matches is very dangerous.” Nadal reflected. “I was able to manage it well. I played well, especially I think in the afternoon better than the morning.”

With two clinical victories over top 50 opposition, Nadal believes things are going in the right direction for him ahead of Roland Garros. The European clay swing is crucial for the world No.2, who is defending more points than any other player this year on the dirt. This week alone, he is defending 1000 points after winning the tournament 12 months ago for the eighth time in his career.

“(The clay season) have been not perfect for me, but it is positive that I was in three semifinals in a row. Even if I was not able to manage to win those matches, my personal feeling has been improving during every single day.” He said.
“Here I am (in Rome), quarter-finals again tomorrow against a great player that he played two great matches today. Will be plenty of confidence.”

Awaiting Nadal in the last eight will be compatriot Fernando Verdasco. Somebody who stunned a bemused Dominic Thiem before knocking Karen Khachanov out of the tournament. It is the first time Verdasco has reached the quarter-finals of a Masters event since the 2017 Paris Open.

“He’s always tough. He is a great player. He’s a very dangerous player for everybody when he’s playing well. He’s having a great tennis career.” The Spaniard commented about Verdasco.

‘We can’t keep talking about this’

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Unlike previous years, Nadal finds himself in a somewhat unfamiliar situation. Five months into the season and he is yet to win a trophy on the clay. A rare occurrence for somebody who has won more titles on the surface than any other player in the Open Era. In recent months, Nadal has been hindered by physical issues with the latest being his knee.

In light of the title drought comes the inevitable question. When will he return back to winning ways?

“I am just trying my best every day. We cannot be talking every week about this.” Nadal insisted. “In Madrid it was the same question. A few days ago: ‘The first time you come here without winning a tournament. If I don’t win here, in Roland Garros will be the same’” – If I don’t win in Roland Garros, the next tournament will be the same.”

Instead of fixing on silverware, Nadal has said he is more concerned about something else – his health. An unsurprising revelation from a player who has been sidelined by injury in recent months.

“The only thing that worries me is being happy and try to be healthy. If I am healthy, I have more chances to be happy.” Nadal explained.
“You win, you lose. I always try to accept both things with calm, normality. That’s it. I am going to try my best to be ready for tomorrow and give myself a chance to play one good event here. When I finish here, I’m going to try to try my best in Roland Garros.’
“If my chances are a little bit less in Roland Garros than usual because I didn’t win a tournament we will see.”

Nadal has only progressed beyond the quarter-finals in one of his past four appearances in Rome.


Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva



World number 5 and 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev battled past Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 3-6 6-3 to reach the semifinal at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Zverev is still seeking his first title of the year.


Dellien earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Zverev converted his fourth break-back chance in the fifth game and held his serve to draw level to 3-3. Zverev saved a set point at 3-5 at 3-5, while Dellien was serving at 40-30.

Dellien needed one break in the fourth game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev held serve in the third game at the seventh deuce after seven deuces to take a 2-1 lead. The German player got the decisive break in the fourth game and held his serve at love to build up a 4-1 lead. Zverev never looked back to win the third set 6-3.

“I played very aggressive in the important moments. I was very aggressive also in break points down, This is finally something I was looking for in the last few weeks. I think today I showed it”, said Zverev.

Radu Albot came back from 2-4 down to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5. Albot went up a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Dzumhur pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Albot broke for the third time on her third break point chance to win the first set 6-3.

Dzumhur went up an early break in the first game of the second set. Albot broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and sealed the win with his second break in the 10th game.

Albot will take on Nicolas Jarry, who dropped just four of his first service points to defeat Taro Daniel 6-1 7-5.



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Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime



Four-time ATP Tour finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili secured his spot in the semifinal where he will face Felix Auger Aliassime in Lyon


Basilashvili came back from an early break down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4 in the quarter final of the Parc Auvergne Rhone Alpes Lyon.

Tsonga got an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead, but Basilashvili recovered from the early start by breaking serve twice in the third and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead. The Georgian player held his final two service games at 30 to close out the opening set 6-4.

Basilashvili needed only a break in the third game of the second set to clinch the second set 6-4 to reach his first semifinal since winning the China Open in 2018.

Basilashvili set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Rio de Janeiro finalist and Miami Open champion Felix Auger Aliassime, who edged Steve Johnson 6-4 2-6 6-4. Auger Aliassime got a break of serve in the third game to clinch the opening set 6-4. Johnson bounced back by breaking twice in the second and eighth game to claim the second set 6-2. Auger Aliassime went up a double break in the third and fifth games to build up a 5-2 lead, but Johnson pulled one break back in the eighth game, when the 18-year-old player was serving for the match. Auger Aliassime served out for the match 6-4 in the 10th game.

Benoit Paire battled past Denis Shapovalov 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Paire broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to seal the opening set 6-3. Shapovalov claimed his only break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Paire saved a total of three break points in the first and third games. Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. Paire reeled off the final three points from 4-4 to claim the tie-break 7-4.

Taylor Fritz fought back from one set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Bautista Agut fended off one set point at 5-6 to take the tie-break of the opening set. Fritz fought back to open up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game to claim the second set 6-4. The US player earned the decisive break in he ninth game to secure his spot in his first semifinal since the 2018 Chengdu Open.



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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.



Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.


The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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