Relentless Rafael Nadal Conquers French Open For Record-Breaking 12th Time - UBITENNIS
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Relentless Rafael Nadal Conquers French Open For Record-Breaking 12th Time

The king of clay is once again the champion of Roland Garros.

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

Rafael Nadal has rewritten the history books of tennis after toppling rival Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7,6-1, 6-1, to win the French Open.

The 33-year-old managed to tame the threat posed by his spirited rival to clinch the title for a 12th time in his career. Becoming the first ever player – man or woman – to reach that number of victories at the same grand slam. Producing a performance that saw him win 73% of his service points as he hit a total of 38 winners past Thiem. Nadal also converted seven out of 13 break point opportunities during a clash that lasted a fraction over three hours.

 

“It’s an incredible moment. I can’t explain it.” Nadal said in French moments after the win.
“It was a dream to play (at Roland Garros) back in 2005 when I won my first title. This continues to be a dream and thank you to everybody who continues to support me.“

In what was a repeat of last year’s final at Roland Garros, Nadal headed into the clash as the overwhelming favourite. Not only had he won the title on 11 previous occasions, he was also the fresher of the two. Compared to Thiem, who was playing for the fourth day in a role due to the turbulent weather in Paris.

Nevertheless, it had little impact on what was a stellar start to the final with both players engaging in gut-busting rallies. Triggering cheers from the packed crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. 26 minutes into the proceedings, Thiem was the first to draw blood. Hitting an almighty forehand followed by a smash at the net to break for the 3-2 lead. However, Nadal responded immediately by breaking back. Continuing to weather the storm and withstanding some ferocious shot-making from his opponent, the second seed increased his intensity. Breaking a second time for the chance to serve for the set. An opportunity he seized with ease with the help of some costly errors from Thiem.

In control of the match, it looked as if Nadal would gain in momentum. During the second frame, he dropped only one point in five service games. Yet Thiem refused to be bullied off the court. Leading 6-5, the Austrian pounced at the most crucial moment. Back-to-back Nadal errors cost the former world No.1 dearly as he drew the match level. A huge breakthrough for Thiem, who failed to win a single set in his three previous meetings with Nadal at the French Open.

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Exiting the court for a comfort break, Nadal returned like a completely new player. Giving the performance many expected and Thiem feared. A nightmare service game from the increasingly weary world No.4 at the start of the third lead to Nadal winning 11 consecutive points on route to a 4-0 lead. Continuing to capitalise against a rapidly faltering Thiem, the lead was swiftly restored with ease. Moving him to six games away from victory.

Closing in on his 93rd victory in the tournament, Nadal continued to dominate. Admirably Thiem continued to battle, but his form was nowhere near to what it was during the early part of the final. In the end it was a one-sided triumph for the king of clay, who prevailed on his second championship point after a Thiem forehand drifted beyond the baseline.

“The first thing I want to say is congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry for him because he deserves it (the title) too.” Said Nadal.
“I hope that he will have a chance to win in the future. He has an unbelievable intensity and unbelievable passion for this sport. He’s a hard worker.”

There is some consolation for Thiem, who is now the only active player under the age of 30 to win a set in the final of a grand slam on the ATP Tour.

“It’s very tough right now because I have given everything I’ve had over these past two weeks. They were amazing.” Thiem reflected. “I love this tournament with my heart.”
“Rafa, well done. Of course, I’m very sad to lose, but you’re such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport.” He added.

The latest win is Nadal’s 950th on the tour and 260th in a grand slam. He exits the tournament with 2000 ranking points and €2,300,000 in prize money. Nadal is also only the fourth man in history to claim a fourth grand slam title after turning 30.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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