Rafael Nadal To Play For ‘A Few More Years,’ Says Former Coach - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal To Play For ‘A Few More Years,’ Says Former Coach

Toni Nadal gives his opinion on how much longer the king of clay will continue his career.

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Rafael Nadal at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals in London (photo Roberto Zanettin)

At the age of 33 Rafael Nadal is approaching the later stages of his illustrious career. However, his former coach doesn’t think he will be retiring from the sport any time soon.

 

Toni Nadal, who is also the uncle of the world No.1, has backed the Spaniard to continue playing on the tour for the foreseeable future. Nadal is currently playing in Madrid at the Davis Cup to cap off what has been a largely successful season for him. In 2019 he has won four ATP titles, including grand slam titles at the French Open and the US Open. Overall, he has won 53 out of 60 matches played to become the oldest year-end No.1 in the Open Era.

Amid his success, Nadal has also been hampered with injury issues. A familiar trend in his career. The most recent of which was an abdominal problem that forced him out on the Paris Masters. It is those physical setbacks which have raised questions over how much longer he will continue playing. However, Toni has played down any concerns.

“I have heard many experts say that their career would be short. The reality is that it has been on the circuit since 2003 and since 2005 at the best level. Fifteen years in the elite.” The 58-year-old told as.com.
“I think he has room to play a few more years. It will depend on your tennis and how others evolve. If there are young people who make it too difficult every week you can let go. But I think it won’t happen.”

In this week’s ATP rankings, there are 10 players older than Nadal inside the top 100. Headed by 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic.

With 19 grand slam titles to his name, Nadal is closing in on breaking Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20. He is five years younger than the Swiss Maestro. Meanwhile, fellow rival Novak Djokovic is currently sitting on 16 major trophies. Logically, it seems inevitable that the Spaniard will break the record, however uncle Toni believes from 2020 more players still start challenging for the big titles.

“Today, he is a favourite in Roland Garros. In Australia, Wimbledon and the US Open he is among the top candidates.” He said.
“You will have options… Like Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev take another step. I think there is going to be a change now because Tsitsipas and Thiem showed a very important level in the Masters (ATP Finals) and things are getting even.”

Nadal will be hoping to end his season on a high on Sunday when he leads Spain in their Davis Cup clash with Canada. He has maintained a perfect record so far in the revamped competition this week by winning seven out of seven matches played. Four of which were in the singles.

The Davis Cup final will take place on Sunday afternoon.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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