Resurgent Rafael Nadal Relishing In His Best Performance Yet At Madrid Open - UBITENNIS
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Resurgent Rafael Nadal Relishing In His Best Performance Yet At Madrid Open

Is the king of clay finally back at his best?

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Roger Federer (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: Concerns over the current health of Rafael Nadal appears to be over after he produced an emphatic performance during his quarter-final match at the Madrid Open.

 

Earlier this week, the Spaniard revealed that he has been hit with a stomach virus. The latest setback during what has been a turbulent season marred by injury. On top of that, the Spaniard is yet to win a title five months into the season. A rare occurrence in the career of the 11-time French Open champion.

“I had that issue with my stomach and that was not expected, so overall I didn’t have the control of the security what could happen this week,” Nadal explained during his press conference.
“Afterwards we had to see on the court, see what happened because sometimes things don’t click or don’t change from one day to the other, even though you can have better feelings during your training.”

Nevertheless, those issues were nowhere to be seen during his clash with three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Nadal dominated their late-night match from the onset as he scored a 6-1, 6-2, win in just 69 minutes. Producing only six unforced errors and dropping seven points behind his serve.

“I was expecting this kind of match and besides what he has managed to do or not, I think from my side, I have managed to go a step forward.” He said.
“I come from a complicated month with a lot of physical struggles. And the fact to be able to compete every single week I have been competing is a step forward for me. From then onwards, I think I have been able to consolidate a good base and try to give a little bit of base and energy.” 

The ongoing resurgence hasn’t gone unnoticed by his rivals. Wawrinka, who now trails Nadal 3-18 in their head-to-head, praised him following their match. The Swiss player looked set to pose a threat based on his performance earlier in the week. Winning three straight-set matches without dropping serve once.

“Today was not my best performance,” Wawrinka told Ubitennis. “I think he played really well. Playing between not really attacking and not really defending. Against him, I had no chance when he is playing like that and I’m not playing my full game.”

It remains to be seen if Nadal’s latest win is the start of his return to dominating once again on the clay. Recent doubts have been cast on his abilities due to his recent physical problems. However, Wawrinka believes he shouldn’t have been written off in the first place. Citing his record on the surface.

“Yesterday I watched him play. You have to see for sure because he didn’t win Monaco or Barcelona. People say that he is not playing that well, but they still have to beat him.” He said.
“We have to see how he is going to finish the clay season.”

Wawrinka will now fly to Italy to play in the Rome Masters. The draw has already taken place with him opening up against David Goffin, followed by Juan Martin del Potro in the next round.

“In general, I am happy. It was a great week and I played some good matches. Today I wasn’t really there, but it’s not a big problem. I’m very happy with where I am right now and I will focus on my next event.” He concluded.

As for Nadal, he has a date with Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals of the tournament on Saturday. The 20-year-old Greek has knocked defending champion Alexander Zverev out of the tournament.

“It is a good test for me. I’m facing some of the best players. He has a lot of confidence. He’s been playing well recently and it is an opportunity to test my level and to confirm those good feelings that I have had today on the court.” Nadal previewed.
“You need tough matches to be able to measure yourself, to be able to test yourself, to compete and to fight for every single point and to keep on finding the things that I might need.”

Nadal leads Tsitsipas 3-0 in their head-to-head.

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Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva

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World number 5 and 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev battled past Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 3-6 6-3 to reach the semifinal at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Zverev is still seeking his first title of the year.

 

Dellien earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Zverev converted his fourth break-back chance in the fifth game and held his serve to draw level to 3-3. Zverev saved a set point at 3-5 at 3-5, while Dellien was serving at 40-30.

Dellien needed one break in the fourth game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev held serve in the third game at the seventh deuce after seven deuces to take a 2-1 lead. The German player got the decisive break in the fourth game and held his serve at love to build up a 4-1 lead. Zverev never looked back to win the third set 6-3.

“I played very aggressive in the important moments. I was very aggressive also in break points down, This is finally something I was looking for in the last few weeks. I think today I showed it”, said Zverev.

Radu Albot came back from 2-4 down to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5. Albot went up a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Dzumhur pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Albot broke for the third time on her third break point chance to win the first set 6-3.

Dzumhur went up an early break in the first game of the second set. Albot broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and sealed the win with his second break in the 10th game.

Albot will take on Nicolas Jarry, who dropped just four of his first service points to defeat Taro Daniel 6-1 7-5.

 

 

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Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime

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Four-time ATP Tour finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili secured his spot in the semifinal where he will face Felix Auger Aliassime in Lyon

 

Basilashvili came back from an early break down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4 in the quarter final of the Parc Auvergne Rhone Alpes Lyon.

Tsonga got an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead, but Basilashvili recovered from the early start by breaking serve twice in the third and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead. The Georgian player held his final two service games at 30 to close out the opening set 6-4.

Basilashvili needed only a break in the third game of the second set to clinch the second set 6-4 to reach his first semifinal since winning the China Open in 2018.

Basilashvili set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Rio de Janeiro finalist and Miami Open champion Felix Auger Aliassime, who edged Steve Johnson 6-4 2-6 6-4. Auger Aliassime got a break of serve in the third game to clinch the opening set 6-4. Johnson bounced back by breaking twice in the second and eighth game to claim the second set 6-2. Auger Aliassime went up a double break in the third and fifth games to build up a 5-2 lead, but Johnson pulled one break back in the eighth game, when the 18-year-old player was serving for the match. Auger Aliassime served out for the match 6-4 in the 10th game.

Benoit Paire battled past Denis Shapovalov 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Paire broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to seal the opening set 6-3. Shapovalov claimed his only break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Paire saved a total of three break points in the first and third games. Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. Paire reeled off the final three points from 4-4 to claim the tie-break 7-4.

Taylor Fritz fought back from one set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Bautista Agut fended off one set point at 5-6 to take the tie-break of the opening set. Fritz fought back to open up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game to claim the second set 6-4. The US player earned the decisive break in he ninth game to secure his spot in his first semifinal since the 2018 Chengdu Open.

 

 

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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.

 

The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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