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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French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur

The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.

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Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.

 

The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.

During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.

“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”

De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.

“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“

Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.

Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.

Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”

As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.

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Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal

The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.

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Novak Djokovic (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.

 

Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.

“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.

Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.

Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.

He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.

Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”

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Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months

The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.

 

The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.

It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”

Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.

“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.

Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.

In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.

Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.

Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.

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