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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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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Alexander Zverev eases past Hugo Dellien to set up a third round match clash against Kei Nishikori in Rome

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This year’s Madrid Mutua Open champion Alexander Zverev cruised past qualifier Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 on Nicola Pietrangeli Court to move into the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Zverev fired 27 winners and fended off all six of the break points he faced. The German won five consecutive games from 0-1 down with a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out the opening set at 15 in the eighth game. 

Zverev went up a break in the third game to take a 2-1, but he had to save six break points in a 12-game fourth game. Zverev managed to hold serve after seven deuces before breaking serve in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. The German served out the win on on his second match point in the eighth game. 

The  German star will face Kei Nishikori for the second time in two weeks. He beat Nishikori, Dan Evans, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini last week at the Madrid Mutua Open en route to the fourth ATP Masters 1000 title of his career after claiming three previous trophies in Rome and Canada in 2017 and Madrid in 2018.  

Federico Delbonis didn’t face a break point and converted four of his nine break points in his 6-2 6-1 win over David Goffin. The Argentine player will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who cruised past last year’s Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3. 

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Aslan Karatsev beats Danil Medvedev in all-Russian clash in Rome

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Aslan Karatsev beat his compatriot Danil Medvedev 6-2 6-4 after 1 hour and 18 minutes in an all-Russian match to move into the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Karatsev has scored his fifth career win against top 10 opponents.

 

Karatsev has improved his win-loss record to 21-6 in his 27 matches this year, including the ATP 500 title in Dubai, the semifinal at the Australian Open and the final at the Serbian Open in Belgrade. 

Karatsev has scored his second top 5 win in the past month after taking an upset win over world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal in Belgrade. 

Karatsev earned a double break in the fifth and seventh games to open up a 5-2 lead. The 27-year-old Russian player earned another break in the seventh game with a volley to take a 4-3 lead. He never looked back and served out the win on his first match point in the 10th game. 

Karatsev won 90% of his first serve points and saved just one break point. 

Karatsev faced Medvedev for the first time in his career on the ATP Tour. They teamed up with Andrey Rublev at the ATP Cup in Melbourne last winter helping Russia win the final against Italy. 

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