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.

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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.

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Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev reach the second round in Hamburg

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Dominic Thiem beat 2016 finalist Pablo Cuevas 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 40 minutes in the first round of the Hamburg European Open to score his 24th win of the season and the 250th win of his career.

 

Thiem beat Cuevas for the fifth time in his seventh head-to-head clash against Cuevas and for the third time this year after his previous wins in Buenos Aires and at Roland Garros.

Thiem broke serve in the second game of the opening set after a lucky net cord return and hit a service winner in the ninth game to seal the first set 6-3. Both players traded breaks at the start of the start of the second set. Cuevas fended off a break point chance in the fifth game. Both players stayed neck and neck in the next game setting up a second set.

Thiem earned a mini-break at 2-1 after two mini-breaks from Cuevas. The Austrian player got a double mini-break with a backhand down the line winner on the ninth point. He closed out the match with a service winner on the next point.

“I wish that the grass court season would have been longer. I love this surface, but it was only one match unfortunately. I hope that I can do it better next year. I am back on clay for two weeks and the last two weeks of the year, so I will try to enjoy the mas much as possible”, said Thiem.

Last year’s ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev made a winning start to his campaign in his home tournament with a 6-4 6-2 victory over last week’s Bastad winner Nicolas Jarry in 71 minutes. Zverev converted four of his six break point chances and saved four of the five chances he faced. Zverev broke serve in the third game to build up a 5-2 lead, when Jarry netted a backhand.

Zverev did not convert three set points, as he was serving for the set. He dropped five consecutive points before serving out the set at 5-4. Both players went on serve in the first four games before Zverev broke at 15 in the fifth game, when Jarry netted a backhand. The German player held serve at love before earning a break to build up a 5-2 after a forehand error from Jarry. The Chilean player earned two break points in the eighth game, as Zverev was serving for the win. Zverev saved them before sealing the second set 6-2 with an ace.

Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien 6-4 6-3 after 67 minutes. This year’s Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini came back from one set down to beat Julian Lenz 6-4 6-4 setting up a match against Rudolf Molleker. Former Hamburg finalist Richard Gasquet beat Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal 6-2 7-6 (7-3) setting up a match against his compatriot Jeremy Chardy. Federico Delbonis saved three match points to beat Marco Cecchinato 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rudolf Molleker knocks out two-time champion Leonardo Mayer in Hamburg

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German 18-year-old Next Gen player Rudolf Molleker knocked out 2014 and 2017 Hamburg champion Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 1 hour and 39 minutes at the Hamburg European Open.

 

Molleker beat Mayer in 2017 in the Hamburg qualifying round, but Mayer got a spot in the main draw as a lucky loser and went on to win the title.

Molleker fended off all three break points in two consecutive games of the first set, before saving two set points in the tie-break. He sealed the second set with a single break.

The German teenager saved two break points in the seventh game with two service games with two service winners and one more chance in the ninth game to set up a tie-break. Mayer took the lead twice at 6-5 and 8-7, but Molleker saved both chances with two winners and sealed the tie-break on the 18th point after a double fault from Mayer.

Molleker earned an early break at the start of the second set and held his service games in the next games before sealing the win with a service winner at 5-4 to secure his spot in the round of 16.

Marton Fucsovics cruised past Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-0 dropping just 16 points on serve. Fucsovics got an early break in the fourth game to clinch the opening set 6-3. The Hungarian player broke three times in a one-sided second set and sealed the win with a service winner.

Andrey Rublev, who lost in the second round at Wimbledon and Umag, edged this year’s Munich and Houston champion Christian Garin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) after 1 hour and 39 minutes to score his second win over the Chilean player this year. Rublev broke three times to seal the opening set 6-4. The Russian player got the break back at 4-5 in the second set to set up a tie-break, which he sealed 7-5.

Jeremy Chardy came back from losing the first set to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3 after 2 hours and 34 minutes. Paire fended off a set point at 4-5 in the opening set to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Paire got a late break in the second set, but Chardy won two games at 5-5 to force the match to the third set. Chardy went up a double break to seal the third set 6-3.

Martin Klizan converted all five break points to cruise past Daniel Altmaier 6-2 6-2.

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Nicolas Jarry Breaks New Ground To Win The Swedish Open

The 23-year-old has become the latest player to win their first ATP title in 2019.

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Nicolas Jarry (@FOXSport_Chile - Twitter)

Chilean fifth seed Nicolas Jarry has won his first ATP title at the Swedish Open after prevailing in straight sets on Sunday.

 

The world No.64 held his nerve to edge his way past Argentina’s Juan Inacio Londero 7-6(3), 6-4. Playing in only his third ATP final, Jarry dropped serve once as he blasted 10 aces and won 76% of the points behind his first serve. Becoming the first person his country to win the tournament since Luis Ayala back in 1960.

“I’m very happy to be able to have this (the title). I know it is not very easy to get the first one in anything that you do. I’m really happy.” Jarry said during the trophy presentation.
“I want to say thank you to my team. I have a big team back home and we are very united. This is for all of them and all of my family who has been there since I was born.”

Jarry achieved his career milestone without dropping a set during the entire tournament. Earlier in the week he also scored wins over Jeremy Chardy and Frederico Delbonis. Londero was the only seeded player he faced in Sweden this year. Overall, he was broken eight times in six matches played.

The 23-year-old isn’t the first member of his family to win a title on the men’s tour. His grandfather is Jaime Fillol, who is a former top 20 player that reached the quarter-finals of the 1975 US Open. During his career, Fillol claimed eight trophies and was the former president of the ATP.

“He is one of the best Chilean tennis players. He taught me the sport since I was little,” Jarry told atptour.com earlier this week. “He took me to great tournaments. I remember Wimbledon when I was 12 and I remember going to the US Open a couple of times. There used to be an ATP [tournament] in Santiago, so I was always involved in the tennis.”

The new Swedish Open champion is the second player from Chile to win a title in 2019. Christian Garin claimed his maiden title back in April at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston. He then went on to win the Munich Open, which is also a clay-court event.

Jarry exits Sweden with 250 ranking points and €90,390 in prize money earnings. He will next travel to Germany to play in the Hamburg Open.

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