Novak Djokovic Is A Tougher Opponent But Not The Greatest, Says Toni Nadal - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Is A Tougher Opponent But Not The Greatest, Says Toni Nadal

The former mentor of Nadal outlines who he considers to be the best tennis player of all time.

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The former coach of world No.2 Rafael Nadal has once again weighed in on the Greatest Of All Time debate by lending his full backing behind Roger Federer.

 

Toni Nadal has hailed the 20-time grand slam champion as the ‘best ever’ to play on the Tour. Federer has won 103 ATP titles so far in his career in what is the second highest tally of all time behind Jimmy Connors. He has held the No.1 spot for a record 310 weeks, which is 24 weeks longer than his nearest rival Pete Sampras (286 weeks). At the age of 38, he is currently the oldest player in the top 100.

“For me, he (Federer) is a wonderful player. I like to watch Roger Federer a lot,” Toni told Eurosport’s Players’ Cut programme.
“I know Federer is the best ever with I don’t know who; maybe Rod Laver or maybe Rafael, he’s not too far (behind). But at the moment Federer is the best.”

There are also arguments that the other two members of the prestigious Big Three deserve the title of ‘GOAT.’ Federer currently has a losing head-to-head against both Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He also only managed to reach the final in one out of his last seven grand slam tournaments. Although he still hails the record for most major titles of 20. One ahead of Nadal and three ahead of Djokovic.

Despite Toni’s praise for the Swiss maestro, he says that it is actually Djokovic who is a tougher opponent for his nephew Nadal to play. The two have clashed on the tour 55 times with the Serbian winning 29 of their meetings. Djokovic enjoyed a perfect start to the season by winning three titles and 18 matches in a row before the Tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For us it was always more difficult to play against Djokovic,” Toni said.
“Because it’s not about who of them is better. For us, when we play against Federer, we have a way to beat him. In my mind, before going on court, I know what we have to do.
“When we play against Djokovic, many times we didn’t know exactly what we had to do. This is more difficult, for me. I prefer to play against Federer.”

Djokovic, who has won more prize money than any other player in history, leads Nadal by 370-point in the ATP rankings. He is also the only member of the Big Three to have a winning record against both of the other two players.

Uncle Toni stepped down from coaching Nadal back in 2018 after introducing him to tennis as a child. The Spaniard is now mentored on the Tour by Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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John Isner upsets Andrey Rublev to reach quarterfinals in Madrid

John Isner is into the Madrid quarter-finals after a last set tiebreak win over Andrey Rublev.

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John Isner (@atptour - Twitter)

The American once again needed three sets and two tiebreakers to earn a top 10 scalp.

 

John Isner booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open by upsetting the number six seed Andrey Rublev 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes hitting 43 winners and 29 aces in the win.

“I’ve always served well, the conditions for the server are fantastic, physically I was heavy-legged today, I finished late last night, the good thing is I finished a bit earlier today and I should be ready to go tomorrow, I’m going to need all of my legs tomorrow against Dominic (Thiem) and I’m looking forward to it for sure”.

The first set was pretty routine and we didn’t see a single break of serve the entire set as the first set would be decided by a tiebreaker. That’s where the American ran away with it jumping out to a 4-0 lead playing some great tennis and he would take it 7-4 to win the first set 7-6.

The Russian was keen to get back in the match in the second set and earned the first two breakpoints of the match at 1-1 and broke to take an early 2-1 lead. That break was all the number six seed needed to serve out the second set taking it 6-3 and setting up a deciding third set.

The number six seed once again had the first break opportunity of the third set but it was immediately saved with the big booming serve from the Greensboro, North Carolina native. That was the only breakpoint of the set and once again the match would be decided by a tiebreaker.

This one was much more closer and we didn’t see a break of serve until 4-3 when the American returned the Russian serve with a powerful forehand to take a 5-3 lead.

He would go on to serve it out to win the match and set up a quarterfinal encounter with the Austrian Domenic Them and he spoke about the matchup in his post-match press conference.

“He’s fresh, he’s won two matches and I think he is the second-best clay courter right now so it’s going to be a very tough task for me tomorrow especially on this court because he hits the ball so big and pretty fast and he does so many things well and I am going to have to play extremely well if I want any chance to beat him”

Theim currently holds a 2-1 lead in the head to head and their most recent meeting was back in 2017 in Laver Cup on an indoor hardcourt when the Austrian won in three sets.

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Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid

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Chile’s Christian Garin has reached his second Masters 1000 quarter final with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 win over world number 3 Danil Medvedev at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

 

Garin earned an early break after a loose service game from Medvedev at 1-1. The second set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev cruised through to a 7-3 win with two mini-breaks. Garin broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to claim the third set 6-1. 

Garin will face either this year’s Serbian Open champion Matteo Berrettini or Federico Delbonis. The Chilean player is tied at 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Berrettini and won his only previous match against Delbonis en route to last year’s title at the Rio Open. Garin won all his five titles on clay in Houston and Munich in 2019, Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba in 2020 and Santiago de Chile in 2021.

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Jannik Sinner Vows To ‘Come Back Stronger’ After Madrid Misfortune

The 19-year-old believes his latest loss will help him grow as a player.

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Italian rising star Jannik Sinner has revealed that he was suffering from an allergy during his latest match at the Madrid Open but has insisted it wasn’t the reason for his loss.

 

The world No.18 crashed out of the tournament in straight sets on Wednesday to Australia’s Alexi Popyrin. A player ranked 57 places lower than him who has reached the third round of a Masters tournament for only the second time in his career. The Italian struggled behind his second serve where he won just 41% of the points. A frustrating outcome for Sinner who led the match 5-3 before losing 6-7(5), 2-6.

“I suffer from allergy and here there is a lot of pollen, I also play with contact lenses and everything. This bothered me a lot,” said Sinner who was coughing throughout the match.
I suffered more because there was more sun and in that field (court) he entered easily, but I did not lose for this (reason). He played better than me.”

The 19-year-old has recently broken into the world’s top 20 following what has been a solid start to the season. At the Miami Open he became only the fourth teenager in history to reach the final after Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On the clay he recently reached the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Despite his disappointment in Madrid, Sinner is hoping that it will help him become an even better playing in the coming weeks heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam which he reached the quarter-finals at on his debut last year.

“This defeat helps me to grow, now I go to the court to work to be at the top for the next match. I’ll come back stronger than before,” he stated.

Sinner will be hoping to get back on track next week when plays his home tournament at the Italian Open. He made his Rome debut back in 2019 where he defeated Steve Johnson in the first round before going out. A year later he reached the third round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.

As for Popyrin, he will face a showdown against top seed Rafael Nadal in Thursday.

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