Rafael Nadal Admits Illness Remains A Problem In Bid For Sixth Madrid Title - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Admits Illness Remains A Problem In Bid For Sixth Madrid Title

The world No.2 has given an update on his health and his expectations at the Madrid Open.

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MADRID: On the eve of the start of his 2019 campaign at the Madrid Open, a frank-speaking Rafael Nadal admits that he still has ‘a strange feeling’ after being hampered by illness.

 

Nadal, who is bidding to win his first title of the season this week, has been forced to reduce his practice schedule at the tournament. Canceling one session on Sunday. It is the latest setback for the Spaniard, who has been hampered with injury problems in recent months. The most recent of which was a knee problem that forced him out of Indian Wells and Miami.

“Sunday I woke up not very well with a stomach virus. Yesterday I trained a little bit and today I trained a little bit more.” Nadal said during a press conference. “I’m not going to lie I still have a strange feeling.’
“The positive side is that I have been able to train for at least 1.5 hours.”

Whilst the recovery signs are promising, there are still concerns coming from the Spaniard and his team. This week he has been monitored by Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro. His first match in the Spanish capital will be against rising star Felix-Auger Aliassime. A player who has climbed more than 70 places in the ATP rankings since the start of the year to 30th.

“It’s true when you have a stomach virus the body is a bit weaker at the beginning, the body is more prone to injury.” He admits.
“Hopefully this will not affect my performance or how I will play.”
“He’s going to be a difficult opponent. For him, things are a bit more even with the altitude and condition.”

Despite his turbulent run in recent time on the tour, the 32-year-old is confident that he is on the right path to reaching his peak once again. The clay season is critical for Nadal’s ranking as he has more points to defend than anybody else. At the French Open, he will bid to win the title for a record 12th time.

During his conference, the Spaniard has hinted that he has been dealing with a variety of issues both on the court and in his personal life. However, he refrained from going into detail about what those were.

“I would have liked to come here with four titles, (but) there’s no more pressure,” Nadal explained. “There has been a lot of issues that have happened over the past 18 months. Some things you (the media) know, some things you don’t.”
“I think I’m on the right path, whatever my path is tomorrow we will see. I think I have more confidence in my body and I am building up my confidence”

It is evident how much Nadal values his privacy. In recent months there has been speculation about his current deal with Nike and if he has renewed his contract. Last year Roger Federer separated from the company to join Uniqlo. As for Nadal, he is giving nothing away.

“I’ve never spoken about this in public. The contract is private for me and I’m not going to share the details. It’s something between me and Nike and that’s it – period.”

Nadal’s clash with Auger-Aliassime is set to take place on Wednesday. Nicknamed the king of clay he has been labeled as the favourite to win the title by some of his rivals. Including world No.1 and 15-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic. However, he has his own interpretation.

“I’m nearly 33. I’ve been here (in Madrid) since I was 18. I hear the same story. Sometimes things work out, sometimes it doesn’t. The favourite player is the one who is going to win the trophy on Sunday.” He said.
“In the past, I have had some really good results on the clay, but the past is the past. Now I will just try to win matches.”

So far in his career, Nadal has won $6,094,606 in prize money at the Madrid Open (excluding 2019). A figure that would place him 131st on the all-time prize money earners.

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Casper Ruud and Cristian Garin reach the semifinal in Hamburg

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Last week’s Rome Masters 1000 semifinalist Casper Ruud reached his second consecutive semifinal in Hamburg after beating Ugo Humbert 7-5 3-6 6-1 after 2 hours and 36 minutes. 

 

Ruud, the son of former Norwegian star Christian Ruud, converted four of his 17 break points and dropped his serve twice. 

Both players traded breaks in in the fifth and sixth games in the opening set and stayed neck and neck in the next games. Humbert earned two set points in the 10th game, which featured six deuces. Ruud saved both opportunities to draw level to 5-5 and broke serve to take a 6-5 lead. The Scandinavian player held serve at love with a smash winner to seal the first set 7-5 after 64 minutes. 

Humbert broke serve in the fourth game of the second set with a backhand winner and saved all five break points in the fifth and seventh games before closing out the first set 6-3 with an ace. Ruud fended off a break point in the first game of the decisive set and broke serve at love in the second game. 

Ruud broke serve at 4-1, as Humbert netted a forehand, and served out the match in the next game. Ruud set up a semifinal match against last year’s finalist Andrey Rublev. 

Chile’s Cristian Garin came back from one set down to beat lucky loser Alexander Bublik 3-6 6-4 6-4. Garin will play against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the oher semifinal. 

Bublik earned breaks in the first and ninth games to win the first set 6-3. Garin broke serve in the second game and saved two break points in the sixth and eights games to win the second set 6-4. Garin earned his only break at love in the fifth game to seal the decisive set 6-4. Garin will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for the first time in his career on the ATP Tour in the semifinal. 

“I am happy to be in the semifinals. Hamburg is a really special tournament. I am having a good week and I am playing my best tennis”, said Garin. 

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‘He Needs To Bulk Up’ – Tennis Great Cast Doubt On Alex De Minaur’s French Open Chances

John Newcombe believes it will be a few more years before the world No.27 reaches his peak.

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One of Australia’s most decorated Grand Slam champions of all time believes compatriot Alex de Minaur still has a way to go before he poses a threat at the French Open.

 

Former world No.1 John Newcombe believes the 21-year-old needs to improve on his physicality before reaching his peak on the surface. De Minaur comes into the Grand Slam high in confidence after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open in what was his best performance at a major so far in his career. He was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

Although De Minaur’s preparations for the clay took a blow last week after he lost the first round of the Italian Open to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. The world No.27 had a set and 3-0 lead over Koepfer before losing. He is not playing in any tournament this week leading up to Roland Garros.

“I’d have to see the draw, how it comes out, but it will be hard work for him,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press about de Minaur’s chances in Paris.
“He’s going to have to do a hell of a lot of work. If he got to the quarters, it would be a terrific effort.
“He’s not going to be physically where he needs to be, just bulking up a bit, until he’s 25, 26.
“But he’s got a good all-court game and he understands the game well, so there’s no reason he can’t be a pretty good late maturer (on clay).”

This year’s clay-court major will be the fourth time the Australian has played in the main draw. In his three previous appearances, de Minaur has only won one match which was against Bradley Klahn last year.

During a recent interview with atptour.com, the Next Gen star gave little away about his expectations for the clay this year given the revised schedule. The French Open is taking place just two weeks after New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the sport to a five-month standstill earlier this year.

“Realistically, you never know until you step out and play matches. It’s a very quick turnaround, something that has never happened to play such an important event after a slam. I’m taking it all in, doing as best as I can and we will have to see,” he said.

De Minaur has won three ATP titles and has scored four wins over top 10 players so far in his career. He is currently the only player from his country ranked in the world’s top 40 on the ATP Tour.

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Novak Djokovic claims his 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome

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Novak Djokovic came back from 0-3 down in the first set to beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 53 minutes in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Djokovic claimed his fifth title in the Eternal City and his 36th Masters 1000 trophy and his 81st career title. Djokovic has become the oldest Rome champion. 

 

The World number 1 player extended his record in 2020 to an impressive record of 31 wins in 32 matches, including four titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome. 

Djokovic dropped his serve three times and earned five breaks of serve. 

Djokovic wasted a game point and dropped his serve, when he netted his backhand. Schwartzman hit four service winners in the second game to consolidate the break for 2-0. 

Djokovic made a backhand error to face a break point in the third game. Schwartzman earned his second break to open up a 3-0 after 18 minutes, as Djokovic netted another backhand.  Djokovic earned a break point chance and conveted it after a double fault from Schwartzman. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 with an ace in the fifth game to claw his way back to 2-3. The Serbian star forced an error from Schwarzman to earn a breka point in the sixth game and got the break, when the Argentine netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve at 15 to take a 4-3 in the seventh game. Schwartzman hit a forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the eighth game and held serve with a service winner to draw level to 4-4. 

Djokovic saved a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Schwartzman saved a set point with a forehand winner and drew level to 5-5 after two deuces with a backhand the line winner. 

Djokovic held serve after a deuce to take a 6-5 lead forcing Schwartzman to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Djokovic converted his third set point to win the opening set 7-5 after 70 minutes. 

Schwartzman earned an early break at the start of the second set. Djokovic got the break back to draw level to 1-1 when Schwartzman sent a forehand wide. 

Djokovic hit a winner at the net to hold serve in the third game. Schwartzman hit four winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.

Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth game and held serve with a service winner to take a 3-2 lead. Schwartman held serve with a drop shot. Djokovic won his service game at love to take a 4-3 lead and broke serve at love in the eighth game with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic held serve at love to close out the final. 

“”It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday and in every match. That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed. Turning to Paris, I could not ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and i super pleased with it”, said Djokovic. 

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