Rafael Nadal Talks Next Gen Following Win Over Rising Star Auger-Aliassime - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Talks Next Gen Following Win Over Rising Star Auger-Aliassime

The world No.2 believes it is still possible for a player to win a grand slam under the age of 20 on the men’s tour.

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Rafael Nadal (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: It was a classic case of experience triumphing over youth for Rafael Nadal and his latest match that took place at the Madrid Open.

 

The 11-time French Open champion eased to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime. An 18-year-old rising star that is the youngest ranked player in the current top 100. In March Auger-Aliassime reached his first ever Masters semi-final at a younger age than the Spaniard did.

Despite the credentials of his rival, Nadal would not be denied victory in his ongoing quest for his first title of 2019. Coming through a rocky end to the match which saw him drop serve before prevailing on his sixth match point opportunity. Overall, the former world No.1 hit 10 winners to 16 unforced errors. However, he benefited significantly from the 30 mistakes that were made across the court.

“In general, it’s a day to be very satisfied, very happy. I managed to win. I managed to win in two sets, against an opponent which was not easy and the day was not the best, it was windy and cold.” Nadal told Spanish media at the Caja Magica.
“I think that my backhand has been really well and other things. There are many things to improve of course, especially after the last days, which have been really complicated for me.”

Nadal is now 20-2 when it comes to playing Next Gen opponents. A group of players under 21 who are promoted as the next big thing in the sport. The ATP campaign was officially launched during the 2016 BNP Paribas Masters in Indian Wells.

Due to the age of the Big Four, who are all over the age of 30, some are wondering who will be their replacement. This week there are four Next Gen players in the top 30. The highest ranked is Stefanos Tsitsipas. For months Alexander Zverev was branded the leader of the pack before turning 22 in April.

“Today’s player (Auger-Aliassime) is one of those candidates to be really good in the future.” Nadal assessed. “Shapovalov is also a good player. We have Tsitsipas. We have a group of players where I cannot predict the future for them.’
“The best player will be the one who is able to improve the most during the next months and years. And we will be able to see that as spectators and hopefully me as an opponent.”

With more players playing later into their career’s, one might think that the era of young men triumphing in the majors is over. Although Nadal, who won three grand slams before turning 21, disagrees. Earlier this year 20-year-old Tsitsipas reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

“I believe that the best players in the history, not all ones, but almost everyone who has won a Grand Slam before 20, so there is no one reason today why this cannot happen again, that’s my feeling.” He said.
“If he’s good enough to do it, and he’s good, he has a good eye, he has a good attitude on court, why not?”

The world No.2 can’t avoid the Next Gen at the moment. His next challenger will be young American Frances Tiafoe. Somebody who he defeated in straight sets earlier this year.

“Frances is a very high-level opponent. He has a lot of speed. He’s very aggressive. And he’s an electric player.” Nadal previews about his upcoming opponent. “He serves very well. He moves very good on the clay. His feet movement is really good.”

Nadal is scheduled to play his third round match not before 20:00 local time on Thursday.

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 6 Preview: Rafael Nadal’s Fate Hangs In The Balance

Who will join Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Saturday’s semifinals?

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The final stage of round-robin matches will get underway at The O2 on Friday. Yesterday saw Rafael Nadal seal the year-end No.1 spot after challenger Novak Djokovic lost in straight sets. However, there is little for to celebrate for the king of clay. Today he faces the prospect of winning his match and still not qualifying for the semi-final stage of the tournament. 

 

Here are the advancement scenarios for the Andre Agassi Group, with Tsitsipas advancing regardless of today’s results:

  • Zverev advances if he wins, or if he loses in three sets and Tsitsipas wins.
  • Nadal advances if both he and Medvedev win.
  • Medvedev advances if he wins in two sets and Tsitsipas wins.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)

Nadal seemed all but out of this tournament less than 48 hours ago, down 5-1 and a match point in the third set to Medvedev.  But Rafa made a classic comeback, aided by a Medvedev meltdown, and Nadal now has new life. Rafa will need more help from Daniil today, as the only way Nadal can advance to tomorrow’s semifinals is if he wins and if Medvedev defeats Zverev.  The first half of that equation will not be an easy task, against a confident and thus-far undefeated Tsitsipas. Stefanos already beat Medvedev and Zverev this week, and owns victories this year against Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal. The win over Rafa even came on clay in Rafa’s home country, when Tsitsipas prevailed in three sets at the Madrid Masters.  But Nadal has been victorious the other four times these two have played, including the very next week at the Rome Masters. A fast indoor hard court is far from Rafa’s favorite surface, yet he should feel good coming off his great escape on Wednesday. He also does not have the pressure of battling for the year-end No.1 ranking, as the King of Clay has already secured that crown thanks to Federer’s win over Djokovic last night.  And as our own Adam Addicott reported, Tsitsipas had an injection in his foot earlier this week, so he’s obviously not 100%. At the beginning of this week, Nadal’s advancement chances seemed slim, as he arrived with an abdominal injury that hampered his play on Monday. But with his tournament life on the line, I’m not betting against one of tennis’ all-time great competitors to find a way to win.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Sascha Zverev (7)

If Nadal does win in the afternoon session, it would eliminate Medvedev from the tournament before this night match even takes place.  Regardless of the afternoon match outcome, Zverev will be playing for his tournament life in this last match of the round robin stage. Sascha owns a 4-1 record over Daniil, though Medvedev claimed their last meeting.  That was just last month in the final of the Shanghai Masters. But the Russian is not the same player he was a month ago, and he’s 0-3 since that championship match in Shanghai. Of course that includes the loss to Nadal two days ago, where Medvedev completely unraveled in the third set, sarcastically giving a thumbs up to his team after nearly after point he lost.  It will be tough to come back and win after that defeat, especially against a player who has dominated their head-to-head. And as the the defending champion in London, Zverev has good vibes playing at the O2. The German should be favored to win, which would guarantee his place in the semifinals for the second straight year.

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Novak Djokovic Confident Elbow Scare Will Not Hamper Davis Cup Duty

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LONDON: Novak Djokovic’s niggling elbow issue briefly resurfaced during his last match played at this year’s ATP Finals in what was a slight scare for the camp of the 16-time grand slam champion.

 

The world No.2 was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Roger Federer, who he last lost to back in 2015. It was far from a vintage performance from the Serbian, who appeared somewhat flat on the court. Potentially suffering from the after-effects of his three-set thriller with Dominic Thiem that occurred two days prior.

“There was not much that I did right this match, to be honest. I mean, realistically he was a better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win.” Djokovic told reporters in London.
“He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn’t read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side.”

It was during the match where some started to notice the 32-year-old flexing his elbow at certain points. Raising fears among his entourage. In the past, he has experienced numerous issues with that area of the body. Missing the second half of the 2017 season to rest his elbow and undergoing minor surgery on it the following year.

Nevertheless, Djokovic continued on the court and was never on the verge of calling for a trainer on the court. However, concerns are starting to mount about if he could miss the upcoming Davis Cup in Madrid to avoid aggravating it further.

“I hope it’s nothing that will prevent me from playing Madrid. The pain was pretty sharp.” He revealed.
“I could play the rest of the match, so if I had something really serious I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. So it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any form of issues later on.”

Djokovic hasn’t played in the team tournament since his country’s quarter-final loss to Spain in 2017. He has represented Serbia in 25 ties. Winning 34 out of 44 matches played. Speaking about the event during the same press conference, he then said ‘things are physically fine.’ Disregarding the elbow scare he spoke about just minutes before.

“Of course the gas tank is not as full as the beginning of the season, but I am motivated to join the guys and play there because I have not played in the team competition of Davis Cup for some time.” He said.
“I look forward to it. They are my dear friends, all of the guys in the team, and I can’t wait to feel that team spirit. The format is different. Should be exciting.”

Now his 2019 season on the ATP Tour has come to an end, Djokovic closes the year out with five titles. Including Wimbledon and the Australian Open. His 54 wins mean that he has won 50 or more matches in 12 out of the past 13 seasons.

Only three players have managed to score multiple wins over Djokovic in 2019 – Roberto Bautista Agut, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

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Roger Federer Ends Djokovic’s Year-End No.1 Bid With Vital Win At ATP Finals

The 20-time grand slam champion has avenged his Wimbledon loss to reach his 16th semi-final at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Roger Federer has recorded his first win over Novak Djokovic in four years after downing the world No.2 in their winner-takes-all clash at the ATP Finals on Thursday evening. 

 

The eagerly anticipated meeting between the two tennis icons failed to live up to expectations as a more dominant and solid Federer prevailed 6-4, 6-3. Ending his five-match losing streak against the world No.2, who lacked the usual firepower in his game. In total Federer hit 23 winners to five unforced errors as he converted three out of his seven break point opportunities.

“It was a great atmosphere, against a great opponent here in London at The O2.” Said Federer. “It is definitely special. Right from the beginning, I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that is what Novak does. I was able to produce, it is definitely magical.”

Thursday saw the continuation of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Heading into the match Djokovic boasted a 26-22 stronghold and hasn’t lost to his nemesis since doing so at the same tournament four years ago. Their 13-year rivalry is the second-longest in the Open Era.

Recent history has seen the Serbian dictate Federer on the court. Coming back from two match points down to defeat his rival in the Wimbledon final earlier this year. However, this time around it would be Federer who would prove to be the dominator. Reading the Djokovic serve like a book he placed his rival under pressure from the onset.

It would be one lackluster Djokovic service game that would prove pivotal to the outcome of the opening set. Two double faults combined with Federer’s ability to hit the ball deep to the baseline enabled the Swiss maestro to break three games into the match. Sending the largely pro-Federer crowd into hysterics. Even more impressive from the world No.3 in the opener was the fact he dropped just three points behind his serve (16/19) against somebody deemed as one of the best returners in the game.

Clinching the opening set has proved decisive in the head-to-head between the two players. Before this week, all 13 of their most recent meetings have been won by the person who clinched the opener. It would be no different at The O2 Arena. Federer continuoued to dominate Djokovic, who seemed bothered by his elbow at times. This time it was five games into the second set when the six-time champion pounced. Capitalizing from yet more errors from across the court.

The anticlimactic encounter ended after just 72 minutes of play in the British capital. It would be another Djokovic shot into the net that would elevate the Swiss played in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“There was a lot riding on this match. I came out great, served great and had great anticipation. It worked to perfection tonight and hopefully it won’t be the last time (against Djokovic).” Federer evaluated of his latest win.

The triumph by Federer has also had a significant impact on the year-end race. Rafael Nadal has secured the year-end No.1 spot for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic had to win the tournament to take the honor way from the Spaniard.

“Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season.” Djokovic told reporters during his press confrence. “I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis.’
“I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world.”

It remains to be seen who Federer will play in the semi-finals on Saturday. There are two possible players he could face depending on how the other group of matches fair on Friday. He will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal.

“I’m happy to stick around.” Said Federer.
“Hopefully I will go a step further than last year. I lost to Zverev who was unreal, that was tough.”
“I will watch some (tennis) tomorrow and then get ready.” He added.

Federer is the most successful player at the ATP Finals with 59 wins under his belt. That is 20 more than his nearest opponent Ivan Lendl.

 

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