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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REPORT: ATP To Hold Zoom Meeting With Players Concerning Future Of 2020 Season

Details of a confidential meeting concerning the governing body of men’s tennis have been published by a leading Spanish newspaper.

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In just over a week’s time the likes of Roger Federer and Co will know for certain what the future of the 2020 season will look like.

 

Spain’s top sporting newspaper Marca have confirmed that player’s have been sent emails from the ATP Tour inviting them to attend a zoom meeting. It is set to be held on Wednesday June 10th at 16:00 CET where they will be discussing the future plans of the men’s Tour. It is unclear how the WTA is addressing the situation or if they will take a similar approach.

All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At present the Tour is suspended up until July 31st, but it is unclear as to what will occur beyond that date. Both the US Open and French Open are hoping to hold their tournaments later this season.

There has been no official word for the ATP to confirm the upcoming meeting, however it has emerged that it was meant to be kept confidential. Something that is no longer possible due to the Marca article.

The most significant aspect regarding the upcoming call will be surrounding the North American Tour and what events will or will not take place. For example the Rogers Cup in Canada has already cancelled their women’s event, but they are still hoping to stage the Men’s equivalent. There are also questions over the future of tournaments in Cincinnati, which is a Masters 1000 event, and the Citi Open in Washington.

“The chance of having 7,500 people a night at the beginning of August is extraordinarily low,” Citi Open tournament director Mark Ein told Tennisnow.com last month. “We haven’t ruled anything out at this point, but the chance of being able to pack a stadium, if you’re being realistic, is extremely low.
“Really we’re focused on scenarios where our hope would be that we can play it with some number of fans. We’re really thinking of hundreds to a thousand [fans].”

The New York Times has reported that the United States Tennis Association is considering moving the Washington event to the same venue of the US Open. Minimising the amount of travel that player’s would be required to do. It is understood that both the ATP and WTA are considering that proposal.

Another factor that will likely be discussed will be how different the Tour may look. There have been talks about potentially staging events behind closed doors, including the US Open, due to the ongoing pandemic. Furthermore, a more pressing matter will be travel requirements and if player’s will be exempt from going through quarantine when entering a new country.

In regards to coaches, it has been reported that they have been invited to attend a separate zoom meeting on June 18th. Torben Beltz, who is the coach of women’s player Donna Vekic, recently disclosed some of the approaches being considered by the WTA. Speaking to the Advantage Podcast, Beltz said the ideas include limiting players to only having one person travelling with them. It is still unconfirmed if this would occur or if the ATP would consider a similar approach.

ATP Tour chief Andrea Gaudenzi had previously said on May 11th that yesterday (June 1st) would be the deadline for making a decision regarding playing tournaments in August. However, they are yet to issue any statement concerning their plans.

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Rafael Nadal Commits To The French Open On One Condition

The king of clay looks ahead to Roland Garros with both optimism and caution.

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World No.2 Rafael Nadal has cautiously confirmed that he will head to the French open later this year to defend his title once again.

 

Nadal, who has won the clay-court major a record 12 times, will have to wait until September to play at Roland Garros due to the ongoing suspension of the Tour due to COVID-19. Officials originally planned to host the event between the end of May and June. Instead, it is currently scheduled to get underway on September 27th with final plans concerning the tournament yet to be finalized.

Speaking to French radio over the weekend Nadal has insisted that he will only play at the event as long as it is safe to do so and the conditions are the same for all players. It is still unclear as to how many fans will be able to attend the event with French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli saying he wanted ‘as many as possible.’ However, the final decision will be up to the government.

“I do not see the future from a professional point of view, but from a medical and health point of view,” the Spaniard said.
“As for Roland Garros, if it is possible to play in optimal conditions and in total safety, if everyone can play, if we are all together, yes, I will be there. But today we have to take precautions and be responsible with the right decisions to guarantee the safety and health of everyone in tennis.”

Nadal faces a potentially critical period later this year should the US Open get underway in September ahead of the French open as planned. As the defending champion at both of those events, he will be tasked with defending a total of 4000 points within five weeks. A far from ideal scenario for anybody.

Although it could be expected that if push comes to shove, Nadal would most likely favor the French Open over the other given his emphatic record. In Roland Garros, he has only ever been defeated twice. Losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. Overall he has a win-loss record of 93-2 at the event.

It is currently unclear as to when the Tour will get going again with all professional tournaments either suspended or canceled until at least July 31st. When play resumes, one possibility is that the action could take place behind closed doors to follow suit to other sports. Although Nadal admits that the situation will be less than ideal for him.

“It is possible. Football is being played behind closed doors. But if you ask me if I like it, the answer is no. Nothing can replace the presence of the public and the energy it generates.” He stated.

On the upside, Nadal is slowly returning to practice thanks to relaxation in lockdown rules in his native Spain. He aims to be fully ready for the resumption of the tour whenever that will occur.

“I feel good. Like the rest, I have not been able to leave the house in two months. Luckily, I had weight training machines at home to train and keep myself physically fit,” Nadal commented on his current fitness routine.
“Little by little I have resumed training several days a week, but not all seven. It has been a gradual and very slow recovery that we have done with care and caution. The objective is to be ready for the day when we return to play tennis, but we still don’t know that. “

Nadal started 2020 with a win-loss record of 13-3 before the Tour suspension.

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French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism

The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.

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Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.

 

Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.

“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”

Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.

“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”

Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.

“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.

Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.

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