Rafael Nadal Undaunted By Growing Threat From The Next Gen - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Undaunted By Growing Threat From The Next Gen

The king of clay speaks out about the challenges he could face from the young guns in 2020.

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With many pundits in tennis predicting that 2020 will be the year where the dominance of the Big Three in grand slams will come to an end, the current world No.1 is taking it all in his stride.

 

Rafael Nadal leads the illustrious pack of players, who currently occupies the top three spots in the ATP rankings. The other members are Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Between them, they have won 51 out of the last 59 grand slam tournaments. Only twice in the last 59 major events has a final taken place without one of the Big Three featuring in the final.

Despite their dominance, there is a growing indication that those hoping to take over are gathering momentum. This season has seen both Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev score their maiden Masters titles. Meanwhile, at the end-of-year ATP Finals, it was Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who was victorious.

“It’s normal that there’s a buzz around them and it will get louder because we’re getting older every day and they’re getting better every day.“ Nadal said during a recent interview with as.com.
“Every year they’re improving. I think that they can win the biggest tournaments, like Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Thiem did this year. I think that (Dennis) Shapovalov is going to make a big step up this year and (Jannik) Sinner’s trajectory is incredible. They’re here to stay.”

Nadal got a taste of the threat he could potentially face in the new year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In the final of the exhibition event, the Spaniard required more than three hours to see off Tsitsipas 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3). On the ATP Tour, he leads his Greek rival 5-1 in their head-to-head.

“I took the game as though it was a tournament game and I do the same with every game I play in.” Said Nadal.
“Tsitsipas left it all out there on the court as well and he was furious at the end.”
“For me it was basically a competitive game.” He later added.

Whilst he is facing tougher battles on the court from his younger rivals, Nadal continues to win them. At the age of 33, he is nearing the closing stages of his career. However, he is still five years younger than rival Federer and there is currently no talk about retirement.

It is very much a waiting game to see what will occur in 2020 with the new generation. However, Nadal admits that change will eventually happen. Whether if he likes it or not.

“We’re still around but the cycle of life is brutal and at some point that’s going to change, and sooner rather than later.” He stated.
“There’s obviously some reason we have 20, 19 and 16 Grand Slams between us. We’ve been able to find a way to remain competitive and to keep being successful.”

Nadal will kick-off his 2020 season at the ATP Cup, which will start on January 3rd.

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Nick Kyrgios claims five-set thriller to set up a blockbuster fourth-round clash against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne

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Nick Kyrgios battled past Karen Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) after 4 hours and 26 minutes to set up a blockbuster fourth round clash against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

 

Khachanov saved match points in both the third and fourth set tie-breaks before losing the decisive tie-break. Kyrgios converted on three of her six break point chances and dropped her serve only once in the entire match.

Kyrgios served well in the opening set and earned two consecutive breaks to cruise through to a 6-2 win. Both players wasted a break point chance to set up a tie-break in the second set. Kyrgios earned two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-5 with a serve up the T.

Kyrgios went up a 4-2 lead in the third set with a break, when Khachanov made two double faults. Khachanov broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Khachanov fended off a match point at 5-6 in the tie-break with a powerful serve and won the final three points to clinch the third set 8-6, as Kyrgios misfired a crosscourt forehand.

Kyrgios saved two break points in the seventh game and earned another match point in the seventh game of the fourth set. Khachanov saved it before winning the tie-break 9-7 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Both players held their serve in the fifth set with no break points setting up the decisive match tie-break. Kyrgios claimed an early mini-break to open up a a 3-0. Khachanov pulled back the mini-break and earned a match point at 8-7, but Kyrgios reeled off the final three points to clinch a thrilling win to the delight of the home fans.

“This is just epic match. I don’t even know what’s going on. Honestly, my legs feel about 40 kilos each. It’s emotional. I haven’t had a moment like that for four, five years, since I last played here against Seppi”, said Kyrgios.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev sets fourth round clash against Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne

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Danil Medvedev beat Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 to set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.

 

Medvedev earned the first break in the second game of the opening set. Popyrin broke straight back in the next game to draw level to 1-1, but Medvedev earned his second break to take a 2-1 lead. The 2019 US Open finalist held his serve in a hard-fought eighth game after saving a break point and sealed the first set 6-4 on his second set point.

Medvedev broke serve at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Popyrin held his serve in the fifth game after saving two break points to claw his way back to 2-3. Medvedev sealed the second set with his second break at 15.

Medvedev got an early break at 15 in the second game of the third set. Kyrgios converted his fourth break-back point chance in the sixth game. Medvedev closed it out on his second match point.

“I am happy to win it in straight sets. I have good memories from last year, which was my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam and hopefully I can make it even further this year. I just try to win as many matches as I can. Hopefully I can win seven here”,said Medvedev.

Medvedev set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka, who reached the fourth round, when US John Isner withdrew from the match due to a foot injury, when the Lausanne player was leading 6-4 4-1.

“You never want your opponent to pull out. I was playing well again today. I was really happy the way I was playing. That’s very positive. It’s great to be back in the second week, that’s for sure. Feeling way better. It’s positive to have a good practice tomorrow and to be ready for the next one”,said Wawrinka.

Medvedev won both his previous head-to-head matches against Wawrinka at 2017 Wimbledon and in the quarter final of the 2019 US Open.

“Stan is a very tough opponent. He has won three majors and has gone deep a lot of times. It’s never going to be an easy match against Stan. I will have to show my best game to have a chance”, said Medvedev.

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Dominic Thiem beats Taylor Fritz to set fourth-round clash against Gael Monfils in Melbourne

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Fifth seed and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem beat Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 on a warm afternoon to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career.

 

Thiem fended off six of the seven break points he faced and broke three times to take a 2-0 lead before Fritz took the edge 7-5 in the tie-break of the third set. The Austrian player sealed the win with a break in the 10th game of the fourth set.

“I also have to say honestly, that I got pretty lucky in the three meetings against him. I remember that at the US Open and today that, I think especially in the second set, I saved six break points. Somehow in the meetings so far, the US Open and here, I pulled myself out of very close situations. In the Laver Cup he turned the tables. He is serving great. You have to expect close matches against him. That was again the case”,said Thiem.

Thiem will face Gael Monfils, who beat Latvian qualifier and 2014 Roland Garros semifinalist Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 27 minutes. The French player reached the second week in Melbourne for the fourth time, and the first since 2017. Monfils has beaten Gulbis all the three times they have met on the ATP Tour, including in the second round match at 2013 Roland Garros. Gulbis earned the first break after two deuces to take a 2-1 lead. Monfils broke straight back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Monfils converted the first of his four set points to win the tie-break 7-2.

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set. Monfils converted his second break point in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and held his next three service games at deuce. The 33-year-old Frenchman closed it out on his first set point.

The third set went on serve until the sixth game before Monfils broke twice in a row in the seventh and ninth games to win the third set 6-3.

Monfils is bidding to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the second time in his career. Monfils converted nine of his nine break points.

“Gael and I have had great matches, I have always had great rallies against him. It’s nice on court when you play him to see his show”, said Thiem.

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