Relentless Rafael Nadal Fights Back From The Brink In ATP Finals Thriller - UBITENNIS
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Relentless Rafael Nadal Fights Back From The Brink In ATP Finals Thriller

The king of clay is back on track in London after staging an audatious comeback.

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LONDON: Rafael Nadal staged a dramatic last-minute comeback to defeat Daniil Medvedev in a three-set roller-coaster at the ATP Finals.

The world No.1 struggled with his rhythm at times and looked to be on the verge of a loss after going down 0-4 in the decisive set. However, an emphatic fight back saw the Spaniard prevailed 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4), after more than two-and-a-half hours of action. Providing a much-needed boost to his chances of qualifying for the semi-final stage. 

 

“Honestly, I have been super lucky. That’s the real thing.” Said Nadal, who also saved a match point. “I feel sorry for Daniil, that is a tough loss for him. He was playing much better than me in the third (set) and today was one out of 1000 that you win. It happened to me today.”

Wednesday’s meeting at The O2 was the first clash between the two since their memorable battle at the US Open. On that day, Medvedev came back from two sets down before being edged out in the decider during what was a marathon encounter. Like New York, the two were once again locked in a roller-coaster battle. Illustrated best by the fact that Nadal only won three more points than Medvedev (108-105).

A series of gut-busting rallies saw the world No.1 being placed constantly under pressure by his Russian nemesis. A 54-minute opening set saw just one break point opportunity arising in 12 games played. That was when Medvedev had a chance to nudge ahead to 4-3 due to some tentative play from his opponent, but the Spaniard battled back once again.

It would be in the tiebreak when Medvedev secured the breakthrough he sought. A deep return forced Nadal to produced a costly error to elevate the world No.4 to a 5-3 lead. Then another tight-looking forward from the Spaniard followed to hand Medvedev two set point chances. He converted on his first with the help of a 131mph serve out wide.

Sensing the possibility that he could lose a second consecutive round-robin match in the tournament for the first time since 2009, Nadal responded valiantly. Displaying the emphatic fighting spirit that has won him many fans over the years. A break at the start of the second set revived his winning hopes. Rapidly gaining in momentum, he soon leveled the match at a set apiece after a Medvedev forehand drifted wide.

Despite Nadal’s best efforts, it looked like he was down and out once again. A lull in his form saw the 19-time grand slam champion go behind 1-5. However, he refused to be complacent with a loss. Some tentative play from Medvedev opened the door for him to hit back and level 5-5. Sending the crowd into hysterics. He would then go on to prevail in the tiebreaker after a hawk-eye call declared a Medvedev shot out on match point.

“When you have the first break at 5-3 then you are only one break away. I know from my experience how tough it is to close the match.” Nadal commented on how he managed to come back into the match.
“Especially when you are two breaks in front and you lose the first one. At that moment I thought I had a chance. I think I played a bit better towards the end.”

The triumph has done Stefanos Tsitsipas a huge favor, who Nadal will play on Friday. The Greek can secure his place in the semi-finals if he beats Alexander Zverev in straight sets later today.

“He is a great player. He has a lot of energy – very young. He is having an amazing season so it will be a very tough one.” Nadal said of Tsitsipas. “I hope to be ready for that. Let’s try to make that happen.”

Nadal’s win also has significance on the race for the year-end top spot. Novak Djokovic is now required to win the tournament if he wants to clinch the position.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Reaches Quarters In Cincinnati After Three-Set Win Over Sinner

The world number nine reached the quarterfinals after battling back to beat the Italian in three sets.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the quarterfinals of the Western and Southern Open after beating Jannik Sinner 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 26 minutes.

 

The Canadian served 14 aces and hit 29 winners in a match where he had to fight back from losing the first set on his way to sealing a spot in the final eight of the tournament.

“Jannik was just playing too good. I didn’t have a great start, I was missing a lot. But I just had no time. He was playing so fast, so precise, serving well. For a set and a half, it was just too good,” atptour.com quoted Auger-Aliassime as saying during his on-court interview. “That game he broke me in the second, returning on the baseline for three returns in a row, you can’t do much better, so I had to give it to him.
“But at the end, I was still on the court trying to find ways, trying to fight and trying to see how I could make him miss a few more balls and to put myself in a competing position and I did that well… To come back and play that way in the tie-break and the third set, that means a lot to me going forward.”

Sinner got the early break in the first set to take a 2-0 lead and broke a second time with the Montreal native serving to stay in the first set to seal it.

The second set stayed on serve until 3-2 when once again the Italian got the break of serve to take a 4-2 lead but Auger-Aliassime broke right back the following game. The set was eventually decided by a tiebreaker in which the world number nine raced out to a 4-0 lead, hitting some solid forehands and it looked like he had turned the match around. He won the breaker only losing a single point and sent the match into a deciding set.

The number seven seed kept the momentum going by breaking in the first game of the third set. He then earned a double break lead and was up 3-0 and broke a third time for a 4-1. Auger-Aliassime served out the match to book a date with Borna Coric who beat the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes.

The pair have met twice before in 2019. Auger-Aliassime won their encounter in Miami but Coric triumphed in Rome.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Quarterfinals Featuring Medvedev/Fritz and Alcaraz/Norrie

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Daniil Medvedev this week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Friday’s ATP singles quarterfinals feature six of the top 13 players in the world.  By contrast, in the WTA singles draw, the top five seeds have all been eliminated, and only two seeds remain.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (11) – Not Before 1:00pm on Center Court

Medvedev has earned both his wins this week in straight sets, while Fritz came back from a set down on Thursday to defeat Daniil’s close friend Andrey Rublev.  The 24-year-old American is having the best year of his career, with a record of 35-13.  Taylor is on the verge of breaking into the top 10, and would be even closer to doing so had he received points for his run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.  He earned his first Masters 1000 title at another North American hard court event earlier this year in Indian Wells.  In their first career meeting, Fritz has the firepower to pull off the upset, especially with a partisan crowd behind him.  But on a hard court, Medvedev remains the favorite to reach his third semifinal in Cincinnati.


Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Center Court

This will be their fourth meeting within the past year, and thus far, all three have gone to Alcaraz.  That includes straight sets wins at the US Open and Indian Wells, and a three-set victory in Madrid on clay.  As impressive as Norrie has been across the past 18 months, no one has skyrocketed to new heights this past year like Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old is now 44-8 in 2022.  However, the sheer amount of tennis the youngster has played this year is concerning, despite his high level of fitness.  And many of those matches have been grueling, dramatic affairs.  Given his recent history with Norrie, Carlitos should be favored, though an upset by the British No.1 would not be a shocking result.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Madison Keys vs. Elena Rybakina – Keys upset world No.1 Iga Swiatek on Thursday.  Both Keys and Rybakina are yet to drop a set this week.  When they played at this year’s Roland Garros, Madison prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Ajla Tomljanovic (Q) vs. Petra Kvitova – Tomljanovic has survived four consecutive three-setters, going back to the last round of qualifying on Sunday.  Kvitova took out Ons Jabeur on Thursday. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. John Isner – Tsitsipas lead their head-to-head 4-2, and has taken their last four meetings.  Stefanos is vying for his third consecutive semifinal at this event.  Isner was a finalist here in 2013.

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Caroline Garcia – Pegula is now No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, with a record of 30-15.  However, Garcia has slightly bested that record, as she’s now 32-15 this season.  Jess is 2-1 against Caroline, though the Frenchwoman claimed their only meeting in 2022.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Borna Coric (Q) – Auger-Aliassime saved two match points on Thursday night in a comeback victory over Jannik Sinner.  Coric followed up his upset of Rafael Nadal by defeating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.  Felix and Borna split two encounters back in 2019. 


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Outlines ‘Big Concern’ About His Current Fitness Ahead Of US Open

The 35-year-old is looking to see if he can find a reason behind his latest problem on the Tour.

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Andy Murray (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Britain’s Andy Murray has admitted that he is alarmed about the frequency of cramping he is experiencing during matches played in North America this season.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Western and Southern Open on Wednesday after losing in three sets to compatriot Cameron Norrie. During the closing stages of their encounter, it was visible that Murray was once again struggling with cramps. A condition that occurs when a muscle shortens and causes a sudden pain that can make it hard to move.

It is usual for athletes to experience cramps but for Murray the issue is a ‘big concern’ for him. Saying that this year is the first time in his career he has suffered from the issue on a regular basis.

“I think pretty much every tennis player in their career has cramped usually in these sorts of conditions,” Murray said during his press conference.
“But the consistency of it for me is a big concern. It’s not something that I have really experienced. I have experienced cramping but not consistently like over a number of tournaments.
“It’s a big concern for me because it’s not easy to play when it gets bad like it was at the end (of his match against Norrie). I feel like it had an impact on the end of the match.”

Murray says his cramping occurs ‘predominantly’ in his legs but different parts. The former world No.1 is now looking into seeing if he can find a possible explanation as to what might be triggering the cramps. The issue comes less than two weeks before the start of the US Open.

“It’s a big concern for me that and something that I need to address and find a solution for,” he said. “No one knows exactly why cramps happen. There are many reasons, whether its hydration, whether it’s the food that you have taken in, whether it’s fatigue and lack of conditioning, stress.’
“I need to try and understand what’s going on there.”

Since Wimbledon, Murray has achieved a win-loss record of 3-4 on the Tour with his best run being to the quarter-finals in Newport. He is currently ranked 47th in the world.

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