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.



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.


Novak Djokovic battles past Diego Schwartzman to set up a blockbuster final against Rafael Nadal in Rome



Novak Djokovic battled past Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 in the semifinal of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia setting up a blockbuster final against Rafael Nadal.


In their previous head-to-head match Djokovic recovered from 2 sets to one down to win in five sets at 2017 Roland Garros.

Both players played a good match, but Djokovic raised his level in the most decisive moments of the match. Djokovic was not affected by his 3-hour marathon match against Juan Martin Del Potro, where he saved two match points.

Djokovic won another thrilling match after 2 hours and 31 minutes against Schwartzman reaching his 9th final in Rome and his 49th title match at Masters 1000 level.

Djokovic converted four of his five break points and dropped his serve twice.

Djokovic got his first break in the eighth game, when Schwartzman netted a backhand. Djokovic held his serve with three winners in the ninth game to close out the opening set 6-3 after 38 minutes.

Djokovic and Schwartzman traded four consecutive breaks from 3-2 in the second set. Schwartzman went up a break twice at 4-2 and 5-3, but Djokovic broke back both times in the seventh and ninth games to draw level to 5-5 setting up a tie-break. Schwartzman took two mini-breaks and won all points on serve to win the tie-break 7-2 forcing the match to the third set.

In the third set they traded five service games before Djokovic earned the decisive break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, when Schwartzman made a backhand error. The Serbian player held serve in the ninth game to secure his spot in the final.

Djokovic and Nadal will meet for the 54th time. The Serbian player leads 28-25 in his head-to-head matches against the Spaniard. Both players hold the record of 33 Masters 1000 titles.

“He keeps on showing to the world why Nadal is one of the biggest legends of tennis history. I have the greatest respect for him. He is my greatest of all time. Every time we get to play each other, it’s a thrill. It’s the ultimate challenge”, said Djokovic.  

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Novak Djokovic Keeps Faith Ahead Of Schwartzman Semi-Final In Rome

Novak Djokovic is keeping the faith as he looks forward to a semi-final match with Diego Schwartzman in Rome.



Novak Djokovic (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

World number one Novak Djokovic is keeping the faith ahead of his Rome semi-final against Diego Schwartzman. 


The four-time champion survived a massive test late last night as he battled past Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in just over three hours.

After saving two match points the Serb proved to be too clinical as he clinched victory at about 1am in the morning on Saturday.

In a short interview after his match Djokovic said that keeping faith was important in his quarter-final victory, I never lost faith I could come back to the match,” Djokovic explained.

“One break of serve, mini break in the tiebreak when he was 6-4, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that’s all it took for me to come back. I’m just really pleased to overcome.”

In addition to keeping mentally strong, Djokovic also praised Del Potro’s performance as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, “He was playing really good. I tried my best obviously all the way till the end,” Djokovic said.

I lost probably the positioning of the court over him. Towards the end of the first he just started hitting the ball really well from both corners. Also backhand side, backhand down the line. He was playing really well. Gave me a lot of trouble.”

Next up for Djokovic is Diego Schwartzman who is into his first ever masters 1000 semi-final and is yet to drop a set this week.

The Serb leads the head-to-head 2-0 although their last match went to five sets at Roland Garros a couple of years ago. It should be a fascinating match which takes place at 8pm local time as Djokovic looks to keep the faith heading into the French Open.



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Novak Djokovic fends off two match points to win a dramatic quarter final match against Juan Martin Del Potro in Rome



Four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic fended off two match pointsto knok out Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 3 hours and 2 minutes in one of the most exciting matches of this edition of the Intenazionali d’Italia in Rome.


Djokovic won just five points than Del Potro and hit 43 winners to 34 unforced errors.

Del Potro saved six break points in the fourth, sixth and eighth games of the opening set and got his break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead.

The Argentine saved three break points in the tenth game to close out the first set with a backhand down the line winner.

Del Potro hit an ace to save a break point in the second game of the second set. Djokovic broke serve in the sixth game with a backhand winner.

The world number 1 fended off a set point on the return in the eighth game. Del Potro broke back at 15 in the ninth game after a loose backhand from Djokovic, when he was serving out the set at 5-3.

Del Potro earned two match points at 6-4 in the tie-break. Djokovic reeled off four consecutive points to win the tie-break 8-6, when Del Potro sent a backhand long forcing the match to the third set.

Djokovic fended off three break points in the fourth game of the decider before breaking serve in the fifth game, as Del Potro netted a forehand. The Serb served well in the next games and closed out the match with a hold of serve setting up a semifinal clash against Diego Schwartzman.

“I have never lost faith I could come back to the match. One break of serve, mini-break of the tie-break when he was 6-4 in the tie-break, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that’s all it took for me to come back. He missed a crucial point in the tie-break. Also in the break point of the third set, quite easy forehand. That’s what happens. That’s sport. I am just really pleased to overcome. I am happy that Del Potro is back to his best form after the injury”, said Djokovic.


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