Rafael Nadal In Good Shape Ahead Of Bid For Elusive Paris Title, Says Coach - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal In Good Shape Ahead Of Bid For Elusive Paris Title, Says Coach

Carlos Moya sheds some light on the current form of the world No.2.

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There is reason to be cautiously optimistic over Rafael Nadal’s chances at the upcoming Paris Masters, according to one of the key members of his team.

 

Coach Carlos Moya has spoken out about the Spaniard as he prepares to play his first tournament since winning the US Open in September. Nadal recently withdrew from the Asian swing of the tour after failing to recover from inflammation in his left playing wrist. An injury that also forced him to pull out during the Laver Cup.

Nadal’s preparation for the final Masters tournament of the season has been like no other. A week ago, he married his partner in a lavish ceremony in Mallorca. Following on from that, he travelled to Kazakhstan to play Novak Djokovic in a charity exhibition match. Nadal won that match after prevailing in a 10-point tiebreak in the final set.

“It has been a bit different from what is usual. He has rested, which is the important thing.” Moya explained during an interview with atptour.com.
“He had a wonderful day at his wedding and immediately we were training, because instead of making the wedding trip after the ceremony, he did it before. So two days after the wedding we were already training. It has been different, but it has been very good days.”

Unlike Roland Garros, the tournament known commonly as Bercy has been more of a disappointment. It is one out of two Masters events that Nadal is yet to win along with the Miami Open. In total, he has only ever played there six times prior to this year with his best run being to the final in 2007. Last year he was absent due to injury.

“Two seasons ago, he had to retire in the quarter-finals and he came because the world’s No. 1 was at stake. Last year we came and had to have surgery the following week … The physical conditions here have not been in our favour.” Moya admits.
“Most of the seasons he has been present in Paris with very little rest, with many games and physically without being in the best condition. In fact, since I came to the team in the last two editions it was like that.“ He added.

Nadal is already in Paris training ahead of the tournament and even had a hitting session with rival Djokovic. The duo will occupy the top two seeds and are currently in a battle for the year-end No.1 position. Nadal has the advantage of not having to defend any ranking points for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, 2018 finalist Djokovic has 600 points at stake over the coming week.

Granted a bye in the first round, Nadal will open up against either Frenchman Adrian Mannarino or a yet to be confirmed qualifier. Later in the tournament, he could play Stan Wawrinka in the third round followed potentially by either Matteo Berrettini or Karen Khachanov.

“In tennis in general, and on this surface, in particular, there is not much room for error and recovery.” Nadal’s coach explains. Just as on clay if you have ten or fifteen bad minutes you can recover, here you pay with the set and probably the game.”

In the tournament’s history, David Ferrer is the only Spanish player to have won the title back in 2012.

Nadal’s Paris Masters timeline

  • 2007 – finalist
  • 2008 – quarter-finals
  • 2009 – semi-finals
  • 2010-2012 – did not play
  • 2013 – semi-finals
  • 2014 -did not play
  • 2015 – quarter-finals
  • 2016 – did not play
  • 2017 – quarter-finals
  • 2018 – did not play

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Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown

Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATPTour_ES - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.

 

After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.

The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.

It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.

Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.

However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.

The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.

An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.

At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.

Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.

There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.

Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.

Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’

After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.

“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.

As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.

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Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner

Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.

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Dominic Thiem (@atptour - Twitter)

The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.

 

Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.

“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.

It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.

That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.

In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.

That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.

After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.

“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.

With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.

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Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud

The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.

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Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.

 

The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.

“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”

Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.

“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”

The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.

At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.

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