For Rafael Nadal hard court tournaments had given him both pleasure and pain throughout his illustrious career.
At one stage it looked like the former world No.1 would give up altogether playing on the surface. Between 2018-2019, he was forced to retire or withdraw from 12 out of 13 hard court tournaments he had entered. Due to a variety of injury-related issues concerning his knees, abdomen and more. Yet still, he enters the upcoming US Open as one of the big favourites for the title.
Nadal is the only member of the Big Three to have won a trophy leading up to Flushing Meadows. Successfully defending his title at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Making it the first time in his career he had defended a hard court title on the ATP Tour.
“Of course, arriving to the big events with good feelings helps,” the world No.2 said during media day at the US Open on Friday. “My last events have been win Rome, win in Roland Garros, semi-finals in Wimbledon, and winning Montreal. That’s a positive feeling, positive memory on my mind. That helps for the confidence.”
The talent of the Spaniard has never been disputed. His resume currently features 83 ATP titles and 196 weeks as world No.1. Furthermore, he has won more titles on the clay than any other player. Including a record 12 at the French Open.
It is the body of the 33-year-old that prompts anxiety around his camp. Last year he was forced to retire from his semi-final match at the US Open due to his right knee. Suffering from the effects of some lengthy matches that took place prior to the semi-finals. However, this year round, Nadal is more upbeat about his current health.
“My feeling on the knees are better this year than last year,” he said. “Last year the problem was I played three or four very, very long matches. That’s tough…
“I hope to be ready for it. I think I am playing well. I am practising the right way during these days. Of course, winning in Montreal helps. I am ready for the action.”
Growing up in the Spanish town of Manacor, Nadal believes his somewhat ordinary upbringing has been a key factor to his success as an athlete. With 18 grand slam titles currently to his name, only Roger Federer has won more than him.
“You need to be prepared for the tough moments,” explained Nadal.
“If you overprotect the young kids when they have problems – because in life you are going to have problems at some point – probably they are not very well-prepared.
“Probably that’s one of the reasons I have been able to be very competitive at very young stages of my career.
“I probably got a normal education, not like superstar education. I just played on the street with my friends.
“I had a very really normal life. That helps you to grow with the normal education.”
Nadal has achieved a win-loss record of 58-11 at the US Open so far in his career. He will play John Millman in the first round. Millman was the player who knocked Federer out of the tournament 12 months ago.
Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win
The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.
Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.
After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.
“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
“Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”
The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.
Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.
“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”
Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16.
“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon
The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.
Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.
Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.
“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.
The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.
In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.
“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”
Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.
With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.
“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.
The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner.
Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon
The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.
Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.
With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.
“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”
Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.
However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.
“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”
According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.
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