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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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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