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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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat

The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.

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Image via https://twitter.com/HumbertUgo/

Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.

Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.

“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”

The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.

Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.

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