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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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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Casper Ruud Opens Up About What It Is Like Playing Roger Federer

The 21-year-old explains what it is like to face somebody who is considered by some as the ‘greatest legend’ in tennis.

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Norway’s top tennis player admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before he was set to play Roger Federer for the first time in his career.

 

Casper Ruud has shed light on what it was like for him playing the Swiss Maestro during an interview with TV 2. The 21-year-old took on Federer in the third round of the French Open last year which he ended up losing 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. At the time it was only Ruud’s fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

“When you meet the man who is considered the greatest legend in your sport in history, it is clear that then you were a little extra nervous,” he said of 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“I remember before I was going to play against Federer, it was a bit difficult to sleep the night before. When you lie with your head on the pillow, your thoughts come.”

Ruud says Federer’s achievements in the sport made him feel more nervous about playing him. Overall, the 39-year-old has won 103 ATP titles and currently holds the record for most time spent holding the world No.1 ranking at 310 weeks. He played his first ATP event at the 1998 Gstaad Open, which was a year before Ruud was born.

Although the Next Gen star says he has admiration for all members of the Big Three, which also include Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The two highest ranked players currently on the men’s tour.

“It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was completely quiet and everyone turned around. Now the legend is here,” he said.
“These three legends, they look taller than they might be. They are probably around 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them.”

Since his meeting with Federer in Paris, Ruud has managed to make a name for himself as he gradually climbs up the world rankings. In February he won the Argentina Open to become the first Norwegian player in history to have won a title on the ATP Tour. He also reached the final of another tournament in Santiago. In September he defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Italian Open to record his first and so far only win over a top 10 player in his career.

“I do not remember everyone in my career. But there are some matches that stand out a bit, and that you remember extra well. Some ball exchanges, some punches here and there that you get, which you usually do not do. It is something that stands out a bit,” Ruud explains.

Unusually Ruud confirmed that both of his parents are now classed as his employees. He is coached by his father Christian who is a former player himself. Christian is a former world No.39 who was his country’s highest ranked male player in history until his son.

“The ultimate boss is probably (my) mother. She rules over both of us. In between at least,” he jokes.

After ending his season with three consecutive Tour losses, Ruud closes out 2020 with a win-loss record of 22-13 and has won $965,653 in prize money. He is currently ranked 27th in the world.
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Six Next Gen players to watch in 2021

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Six under 21 players born in the 2000s have come to the fore this season and are ready to make a major breakthrough in the coming years. 

 

We look back at the Next Gen season featuring six Next Gen players outside the top 100 (Thiago Seyboth Wild, Lorenzo Musetti, Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima), who produced an impact on the ATP Tour and Challenger season in 2020 and could break into the top 100 next year. 

Thiago Seyboth Wild (world number 115) born in 2000

The 20-year-old Brazilian player emerged in 2018 when he won the US Open Junior title. He became the first ATP Tour champion born in 2000s when he beat number 1 seed Christian Garin in Santiago, followed by Norwegian clay specialist Casper Ruud 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the final. At the age of 19 Seyboth Wild became the youngest Brazilian champion in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won the Acapulco title in 2005. 

Seyboth Wild was the lowest-ranked winner at World number 182 and the youngest tour-level champion at 19 years and 11 months. He broke into top 200 in the ATP Ranking on 24 February and climbed up 69 positions reaching his career-high of world number 113 on 2 March. 

“It’s an incredible achievement. It’s something I have always dreamed about”, said Seyboth Wild.

Thiago saved three match points to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round in Rio de Janeiro as wildcard after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the longest ATP Tour match since the 2009 Madrid semifinal, when Rafa Nadal beat Novak Djokovic after 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Sebastian Korda (world number 117) born in 2000

Sebastian Korda is following in the footsteps of his father Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open title in 1998 and reached the French Open final in 1992, and tennis player Regina Rajchrtova. Sebastian grew up playing competitive ice hockey, but he decided to switch to tennis at the age of 9 after accompanying his father Petr to the US Open in 2009. 

The US player of Czech origin made a step forward in his career last summer, when he qualified for the main draw at the Western and Southern Open in New York by beating Gilles Simon. Korda pushed Denis Shapovalov in a four-set match in the first round at the US Open. 

At Roland Garros Sebastian came through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw before beating Andreas Seppi and John Isner to get through the third round. He then beat Pedro Martinez becoming the first qualifier to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros in nine years. Korda won just four games in his straight-set defeat against 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, but the young US player will never forget this moment. 

“It was definitely the best moment of my life. It was super awesome”, said Korda. 

Korda went on to clinch his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Eckental (Germany). 

Lorenzo Musetti (world number 127) born in 2002

Lorenzo Musetti followed in the footsteps of Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2019 and claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Sofia this year. 

Musetti, who won the Australian Open title in 2019, made his ATP Tour debut last February in Dubai, where he lost to Andrey Rublev in Dubai. 

Musetti entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as the World Number 249 and dropped a set in two of his three qualifying matches. The Italian 18-year-old player went on to upset former top 10 players Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in back-to-back matches to reach the third round for the first round in his career. Musetti became the first player to reach the third round in Rome since Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in 1991. 

Musetti lost in the third round against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. The Italian teenager carried the momentum winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Forlì and became the youngest semifinalist of the season at the Sardinia Open in Santa Margherita di Pula as a wild-card. 

Lorenzo’s father is a marble producer. His mother is a secretary. The only coach in his career is Simone Tartarini. Lorenzo considers him as his second father. 

Carlos Alcaraz (world number 140) born in 2003

Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz grabbed the headlines last February before his 17-year-old birthday, when he beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 37 minutes in the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro in his debut on the ATP Tour at 3.00 local time. 

Alcaraz went on to become the youngest player to win ATP Challenger Tour trophies in consecutive weeks and the second youngest player to claim three titles in Challenger history. Only Richard Gasquet was younger, when he won his third title in Naples in 2003. 

Alcaraz beat Musetti in the semifinal of the ATP Challenger in Trieste en route to winning his first Challenger title. The Spanish player coached by former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won two back-to back titles in Barcelona (beating Damir Dzumhur in the final) and Alicante. 

Alcaraz has ended the season with a record of 39 wins to just 7 defeats. 

Hugo Gaston (world number 161) born in 2000

Hugo Gaston entered the French Open without a tour-level win and a semifinal at ATP Tour Challenger in Bergamo as his best result. The 20-year-old Frenchman beat Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round in the Paris Grand Slam tournament. Gaston entertained the few French fans with his drop-shot in his five-set win over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the fourth round for the first first time in his career. The player from Toulouse became the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round at the French Open since world number 283 Arnaud Di Pasquale in 2002 and the first Frenchman to reach the fourth round in Roland Garros debut since Patrice Dominguez in 1971. 

Gaston lost against US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in five sets. 

Gaston made his Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open as a wild card losing to Jaume Munar in the first round. 

Brandon Nakashima (world number 166) born in 2001

Nakashima received a wild-card to his first ATP main draw tournament in Delray Beach. The young US player beat Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie to become the youngest quarter finalist since Kei Nishikori won this tournament at the age of 18 in 2008. 

Nakashima won his first Grand Slam match against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at the US Open and claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title in Orlando. He advanced to the ATP Challenger semifinal at Indian Wells.  

Nakashima is coached by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Brandon’s mother grew up in Vietnam. His father is of Japanese ancestry and was born in California. 

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