Rafael Nadal’s Future In The ATP Finals Hangs In The Balance Despite Monster Win - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal’s Future In The ATP Finals Hangs In The Balance Despite Monster Win

It was another dramatic victory for the top seed in London, but will it be enough to keep him in the tournament?

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LONDON: Rafael Nadal’s future fate in this year’s ATP Finals is up to one of his rivals in the competition after he closed out his round-robin campaign with an epic win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal, who secured the year-end No.1 spot yesterday, fought from behind to record a roller-coaster 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5, win at The O2 Arena. Spending almost three hours on the court to avoid suffering multiple losses in the group stage of the tournament for the first time since 2011. Throughout the Monmouth battle, he hit six aces along 38 winners without facing a single break point in the entire match.

“I did all the things I could do today,” Nadal said afterward on the court. “I fought until the end. If I am able to play in front of you (the crowd) tomorrow against Roger it would be a huge honor.’
“If not, I hope to see you next year.” He added.

The London showdown was a clash of two different scenarios. Nadal knew that he had to win the match to even have a chance of progressing to the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since 2015. In contrast, Tsitsipas had the luxury of knowing that regardless of how he performs he is through to the last four no matter what.

Despite the stakes being significantly higher for Nadal, Tsitsipas was not set on taking it easy. The opening set saw both players stan firm behind their service games as neither refused to buckle. Nadal’s attacking play was muzzled by Tsitsipas’ defensive capabilities. Creating a level playing ground between the two despite the world No.1 winning four out of their five previous meetings.

49 minutes passed with no break point opportunities occurring in Nadal’s must-win encounter. Paving way for a tiebreak where ironically the difficulty for both men was trying to hold their serve. Exchanging mini breaks between each other twice, it would be Tsitsipas who scored a decisive blow. A Nadal backhand into the net followed by another shot going beyond the baseline moved the Greek to his first set point. Cheered on by a huge roar from the London crowd, he clinched the lead with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Nadal would once again need to draw upon his warrior-like fighting spirit to turn his fortunes around. Emulating his heroics against Daniil Medvedev two days ago. Bursts of frustration from the 33-year-old erupted throughout the second set as he got within a point of breaking Tsitsipas on multiple occasions, but failed to do so. Despite his shortfalls, the breakthrough finally occurred during the business end. At 4-4, two games away from defeat, he wore down Tsitsipas’ serve to move ahead 5-4. Prompting an emphatic fist pump from the Spaniard as he took proceedings into a decider.

With all to play for, Nadal maintained a high level of intensity in his shot-making as the titanic clash continued. Electrifying the crowd in what was one of the best matches of this year’s tournament. The final set once again featured little disparity between the two, but it would be Nadal who would prevail. At 5-5 in the decider, an unsuccessful approach at the net from Tsitsipas resulted in the top seed breaking. Triggering jubilation among the Nadal contingent in the crowd. Serving for the win, he sealed it at the expense of another mistake from his rival. This time it was a shot into the net from the Greek.

Moments after his thrilling triumph, Nadal was presented with the year-end No.1 trophy for the fifth time in his career. Making it a double celebration.

“I am super happy. Honestly, after all the things I went through in my career in terms of injury, I never thought at the age of 33-and-a-half I would have this trophy in my hands again.” Said Nadal.

The chances of the world No.1 being in the semi-finals now lies in the hands of Medvedev. The Russian must defeat Alexander Zverev in his match later tonight. If he doesn’t, Nadal will be eliminated from the competition. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas must wait to see if he finishes first or second in the group. If Nadal does qualify, he will play Federer next.

Regardless of if he makes it or not, Nadal has paid tribute to those close to him during what has been a mixed season. Besides his two Masters 1000 and two Grand Slam titles in 2019, he has also been affected by various injury setbacks. The ATP Finals is the first event he has been able to complete since the US Open in September.

“It’s really emotional. There has been a lot of work to get me where I am today. Without my team and family this thing would have been impossible.” He reflected.
“There have been some bad moments and you have always been there. Before Monte Carlo, after Monte Carlo, without the support of these people, things would have been much different for me this year. I can’t thank them enough.”

Nadal has now won 53 matches this season.

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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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