Rafael Nadal Is The ‘Greatest Spanish Athlete In History,’ Says Former Grand Slam Finalist - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Is The ‘Greatest Spanish Athlete In History,’ Says Former Grand Slam Finalist

A former world No.2 player has made a bold claim about the king of clay.

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Rafael Nadal (image via US Open Twitter)

19-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal is used to receiving flattering comments given the records he has set on the court, but even he would be taken back by the latest one.

The achievements of the world No.1 has been hailed by former player and Eurosport pundit Alex Corretja. A former world No.2 who is best known for reaching the final of the French Open twice. Following Spain’s triumph in the Davis Cup, Corretja said he believes the king of clay is the best athlete of all time in Spain. Nadal played in eight matches during the Davis Cup finals with five of those being in the singles competition. Overall, he dropped only one set in his doubles match against Russia. It was his win over Denis Shapovalov that clinched Spain their first title since 2011.

“For me he is the best athlete in the history of Spain and I would begin to place him as one of the best worldwide.” Corretja told Eurosport.es.
“For all that Rafa entails, for all that he gets, for how he manages it, I think that as there are few (who does it like him).”
“It’s not because we are Spanish that we emphasize him because everywhere he goes, everybody does it. He is a machine, he will continue fighting until the end, giving his best and I wish he lasts a long time because it’s impossible to see someone like him again.” He added.

Nadal has already established himself as his country’s most successful tennis player of all-time. He has won 84 titles on the men’s tour so far in his career with 19 at those occurring at major tournaments. One adrift from Roger Federer’s all-time record. On Monday he became the sixth male tennis player in history to reach 200 weeks as world No.1. Only two other Spanish men have been world No.1 since the ranking system was introduced. Juan Carlos Ferrero held the spot for eight weeks in 2003 and Carlos Moya for two weeks in 1999.

Branding the 13-time French Open winner as Spain’s greatest ever athlete is of course subjective. Especially for a country that boasts some of the world’s most successful football teams. Although Nadal is undoubtedly an influential figure. One study of the 2016 Spanish Olympic team concluded that he was the most popular athlete. The findings were based on internet popularity and social media presence.

33-year-old Nadal has become the oldest player in the Open Era to finish the season at the top of the ATP rankings. This fifth time he has done so in his career. This year he has won four titles, including two grand slam trophies at the French Open and the US Open. Overall, he has won 58 out of 65 matches played and reached the semifinals or better in 11 out of 13 tournaments.

“I said during the whole time No. 1 was not the main goal for me,” Nadal told reporters at the ATP Finals in London.
“I was not following the No.1 (ranking). I’m doing my normal calendar because you have to make decisions to try to play as long as possible or to try to fight for No. 1.”
“My decision or our (my team) decision was to try to do things to play as long as possible, so that’s why I tried to do the conservative calendar in terms of saving the body and everything.”

Nadal will return to action next month at the The Mubadala World Tennis Championship. A three-day exhibition event that will get underway on December 19th.

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Roland Garros 2024: Rafael Nadal Faces Alexander Zverev In Blockbuster Opening Round

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will meet at Roland Garros in the first round with Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in the opening round.

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Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Rome champion Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion will most likely be making his last appearance at the event where he has such a great history at.

It’s been a mixed clay court season for Nadal who built gradual momentum in Madrid but suffered an early exit in Rome to Hubert Hurkacz.

Now the Spaniard has been drawn to take on the champion of Rome, Alexander Zverev, in the opening round.

The match is a repeat of the 2022 semi-final where Zverev broke his ankle losing almost a year of his career.

This contest headlines the second quarter of the draw which also features Karen Khachanov, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev.

In the other quarter of the top half of the draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic will begin his Roland Garros campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

There is also a potential third round clash with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti for Djokovic, who is currently in Geneva gaining extra match practice ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

The Serb could have a repeat of last year’s final in the quarter-finals with Casper Ruud as the Norwegian begins his campaign against Jakub Mensik.

In the bottom half of the draw Jannik Sinner plays his first tournament since suffering a hip injury in Rome as he takes on Christopher Eubanks in the opening round.

Sinner could face Cameron Norrie in the third round with the Brit taking on Pavel Kotov in his opening round before playing the winner of the battle of the Grand Slam champions between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray and Wawrinka will clash for the fourth time at Roland Garros with Wawrinka leading their head-to-head 2-1 in Paris.

This section also includes in-form players such as Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Tabilo and Rome finalist Nicolas Jarry.

Finally Carlos Alcaraz will begin his Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier before potentially playing Jack Draper in the second round.

Another exciting clash awaits Alcaraz in the third round in the form of Sebastian Korda with Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas being potential quarter-final opponents.

This is the full draw with Roland Garros beginning on Sunday.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Return To Top Four After Winning Italian Open

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Alexander Zverev has clinched his first Masters title since 2021 after downing Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at the Italian Open.

The world No.5 surged to a 6-4,7-5, victory at the Faro Italico to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the Rome trophy on multiple occasions. He also won the tournament in 2017. Zverev’s latest win was aided by an impressive service display from the 27-year-old who also hit 15 winners against eight unforced errors. He is now 22-1 against players ranked outside the top five at the tournament with his only loss being to Matteo Berrettini five years ago.

“It means a lot. Winning my first (Masters) title and winning my first after my injury in Rome. Rome is a very special place for me,” the new champion said afterwards. 
“I said at the beginning of the week if Rome is the place of firsts for me I’m extremely happy about it. It’s a very special week.” 

Playing in his first Masters 1000 final since 2022, Zverev produced a serving masterclass throughout the opening set with the German winning 20 out of 21 points. In contrast, Jarry experienced more difficult but valiantly fought back with the Chilean saving two straight break points at 4-4. Eventually, the third seed sealed the opener two games later with the help of some costly shots coming from across the court. A deep shot towards the baseline was unsuccessfully returned by Jarry, handing Zverev a set point which he converted.

Continuing to pile the pressure on in the second set, Zverev had a double chance to break for a 3-1 lead but failed to capitalise on that opportunity. The opportunities continued to come and go. Back-to-back double faults from Jarry at 4-5 handed Zverev two championship points but once again he failed to take advantage. Eventually, he sealed victory two games later with the help of a forehand shot that Jarry returned out. Prompting Zverev to raise his hands in delight before later paying tribute to his rival. 

“He’s playing huge. You can see that by the opponents he beat and how he beat them,” he said of Jarry. 
“I told him if he continues playing like that he is going to have many more chances. I’m happy to be the winner.”

As a result of his Rome triumph, Zverev has secured a top-four seeding for the French Open. On Monday he will rise in the PIF ATP rankings to No.4 which will be his highest position since August 2022. During that same year, he sustained a serious ankle injury which sidelined him for months. 

“The focus is on Paris, that’s for sure. but let me enjoy this one for a day or so and then I will have my full focus on Paris,” said Zverev.

Zverev has now won six Masters 1000 titles which places him in joint-ninth on the all-time list along with Daniil Medvedev. 

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Novak Djokovic Accepts Geneva Wildcard Ahead Of Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic has accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva as he looks to improve his form ahead of Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic has shockingly accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva.

The world number one hasn’t had the best season so far having yet to reach a final at any of his events this season.

There was hope for Djokovic that his fortunes would change on clay and the Serb started his clay court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo before losing to Casper Ruud.

However Djokovic’s clay court hopes were dashed in Rome as he lost in the third round to in-form Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

This has meant that Djokovic risks being undercooked for the second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

Therefore the Serb has had no option but to take a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 in Geneva.

Djokovic will join Casper Ruud, Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz in next week’s event.

Next week’s appearance will be the first appearance in Geneva in Djokovic who will be the top seed in Switzerland.

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