Rafael Nadal claims his ninth title in Rome - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal claims his ninth title in Rome

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Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the eagerly awaited final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on the Centre Court in Rome to claim his ninth title of his legendary career in the Italian capital. Nadal has become the first player in history to win 34 Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal and Djokovic met for the 54th time in their careers and for the 26time in a final. Djokovic entered the Rome final with a 28-25 win-loss record and beat Nadal in three sets in this year’s Australian Open final by the scoreline of 6-3 6-2 6-3.

The top 2 players of the ATP Ranking won 12 of the last 14 Rome titles.

Nadal took a bagel win in a one-sided first set with three consecutive breaks and earned 59 % of his return points. Nadal broke in the first game of the opening set after a loose forehand from Djokovic. Nadal went up a double break to open a 3-0 lead with a forehand down the line and claimed the opening set in the sixth game with a service winner after 38 minutes.

Djokovic bounced back in the second set and earned a break point in the fourth game, but Nadal saved it with a forehand down the line winner.

The Serbian player saved three break points he faced in the seventh game of the second set and fended off another chance at 4-4. Nadal wasted a game point in the 10th game and sent a forehand long to drop serve in the 10th game. With his only break Djokovic claimed the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set.

The Serbian player earned his first break point of the match at 2-1 in the second set with a forehand, but Nadal saved it with an inside.in forehand winner. Nadal brought up three break points at 3-3 0-40 with a lob that Djokovic smashed into the net.

Djokovic saved the 4th fourth break point of the second set at 4-4 before breaking serve at deuce in the 10th game to close out the second set 6-4, when Nadal missed wide.

Nadal started the decisive set with an immediate break at deuce in the opening game. Djokovic saved a break point in the third game at deuce, but dropped his serve for the second time at 30 in the fifth game to trail 1-4 after a backhand error Nadal wrapped up the match with his third break in the seventh game on his first match point at deuce to clinch his ninth title in Rome and his 34th Masters 1000 trophy. Nadal has lifted his first title of the 2019 season and his first tournament since last August’s Rogers Cup.

Nadal won the Rome title for the second consecutive year becoming the first player to successfully defend a title in 2019. The Spanish player had not won a single tournament in 2019, but he reached three consecutive semifinals in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

The Spanish player becomes the oldest Rome champion in the history of the Rome tournament.

Nadal received the Rome trophy from former Roland Garros and Rome champion Gustavo Kuerten during a ceremony attended by Italian tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli and Italian tennis Federation President Angelo Binaghi.

“For me it’s always an honour to play in Rome. I played here for the first time in 2005. I thank the crowd for their support. I played the first set very well. The most important thing is to return to my best level. All titles are special, but this win means a lot to me, because Rome has a very important place in the history of our sport. I had a very difficult week. For me, as I have said ever day, winning titles is important, but for me the most important thing is to feel myself competitive and healthy. And then with the feeling I am improving.” Nadal said during a post-match interview with TennisTV.

 “I know if I reach my level, you can win or you can lose, but normally I will have my chances. Especially on this surface. I am very happy with my victory. It was a great match, I played well and now I’m just enjoying the moment.” Nadal summarised.

 “It is always special playing against Novak, against Roger (Federer). These kind of matches has been tradition in the sport for the last 10 or so years.” he said.

 “Novak is having a great season. Winning in Australia and winning last week in Madrid. It’s an important win for me, but what means a lot is winning again here in Rome. It is one of the most important events of the year.”

Nadal did not drop a set en route to reaching the final, while four-time Rome champion Djokovic won two three-set marathon matches against Juan Martin Del Porto in the quarter final and Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal and spent 5 hours and 34 minutes compared to Nadal ‘s 3 hours and 22 minutes.

“No, I don’t want to talk about the fatigue. Simply Nadal was the better player today.” Djokovic said during the trophy presentation.

 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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