Rafael Nadal reaches the quarter final in Rome for the 15th time in the past 16 years - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal reaches the quarter final in Rome for the 15th time in the past 16 years

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Nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal has reached the quarter final for the 15th time in the past 16 years at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome after beating Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-1 6-3 in one hour and 30 minutes. The King of Clay has qualified for his 93rd Masters 1000 quarter final. 

 

Nadal dropped 15 points in 8 service games and converted on 6 of his 14 break points. Nadal started the match with a hold at 15 with a forehand crosscourt winner in the first game and earned his first break in the second game after a forehand error from Lajovic. 

Lajovic broke back at love in the third game after Nadal made a forehand error. Nadal convertd his sixth break point to open up a 3-1 lead with a forehand return winner. The Spanish star forced an error from Lajovic to earn another break and wrapped up the first set 6-1 in 41 minutes with a service winner. 

Nadal went up a break in the first game of the second set and consolidated it in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead with a volley winner. Nadal earned a double break to race out to a 3-0 lead when Lajovic sent a backhand long and held serve in the fourth game with a service in the fourth game. Lajovic pulled one break back in the sixth game after forcing an error frm Nadal and held serve at 15 when Nadal netted a forehand. Nadal opened up a 5-3 lead with a service winner in the eighth game and broke serve at love in the ninth game after a backhand error from Lajovic setting up a quarter final against Diego Schwartzman, who came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 6-2 6-4 after 2 hours and 9 minutes. 

“I played at a very positive level of tennis. It needs to keep improving. I need to keep working on a couple of things that are no coming automatically, but I can’t ask for more. It was another great evening for me against another good opponent. I can’t complain at all. Much better that what I expected. The first set it was 6-1, but a super tough bebinning of the match. A lot of good points. I am very happy. It’s an important victory for me after such a long time. To start the tournament with these two victories is great news”, said Nadal.

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The ATP reveals the nominees for the 2021 Awards

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The ATP has revealed the nominees for the 2021 Awards for all players categories: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship of the Year and for the Coach of the Year. 

 

Casper Ruud and his father Christian (a former world number 39 player) have picked up a total of three nominees. Ruud won five ATP Tour titles in Geneva, Baastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel and San Diego and is a candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Christian is one of five nominees for the Coach of the Year Award together with Craig Broyntom (Hubert Hurkacz), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz) and Facundo Lugones (Cameron Norrie). 

Carlos Alcaraz, Aslan Karatsev and Cameron Norrie are the nominees for the Most Improved Player Award. 

Felix Auger Aliassime, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and Frances Tiafoe and Ruud are the candidates for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Nadal won the Sportsmanship Award. 

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Mackenzie McDonald, Andy Murray and Jack Sock have been shortlisted for the Comeback player of the Year Award. 

The shortlist for the Newcomer of the Year Award includes Sebastian Baez, Jenson Brooksby, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima. 

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Serbia tops Kazakhstan to set up Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia

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Serbia set up a semifinal against Croatia in the Davis Cup by Rakuten as world number 1 Novak Djokovic led his team to a comeback win over Kazakhstan. 

 

Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-6 (13-11) win over Miomir Kecmanovic in the first singles match.  

Djokovic sent the Davis Cup quarter final match into a deciding doubles match after cruising past Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-4. The Serbian star scored his 17th consecutive singles win in a Davis Cup match. 

The Wimbledon champion returned to the court to team up with Nikola Cacic in their 6-2 2-6 6-3 win over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. 

Kukushkin beats Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11)

World number 182 Michail Kukushkin saved four match points to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11) in 3 hours and 16 minutes after an entertaining quarter final match at the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Madrid to give Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead over Serbia. Kukushkin fought back from 2-5 down in the deciding set and saved four match points before converting his fifth match point to win the tie-break of the third set 13-11. 

Kecmanovic earned an early break in the first game to take a 2-0 lead. Kukushkin pulled back on serve immediately to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve in their next service games en route to the tie-break. Kukushkin earned a mini-break to take a 2-1 lead. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve for 4-5, but Kukushkin earned his second mini-break to claim the tie-break 7-5. 

Kukushkin took an early 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game of the second set. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Serbian player converted his fifth set point on Kukushkin’s serve in the tenth game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Kecmanovic opened up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Kukushkin saved five five break points in the fourth game to avoid falling down 0-4. When Kecmanovic was serving for the match at 5-3, he dropped serve after wasting two match points. 

Kecmanovic was the first to earn match point in the tie-break but he hit a forehand long at 6-5. The Serbian player fended off four match points but Kukushkin converted his fifth match point to seal the breaker 13-11. 

Djokovic beats Bublik 6-3 6-4

Djokovic earned two break points with a forehand at 2-1. Bublik saved the first chance with an ace. Djokovic converted his second break point after Bublik made a drop shot error. Djokovic held his next service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Djokovic went up a 2-1 lead with a break in the third game of the second set. The 20-time Grand Slam champion won close to 90% of his first service points to open up a 4-2 lead. He held his service game to love to take a 5-3 lead. Bublik held his serve fo 4-5 in the ninth game, but Djokovic served out the win on his second match point. 

“The Davis Cup is a team competition. It’s completely diffferent than any other competition”, said Djokovic. 

Serbia beats Kazakhstan 6-2 2-6 6-3

Djokovic and Cacic broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the opening set 6-2. 

Golubev and Nedovyesov converted their fourth break point in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. The Kazakh team sealed the second set 6-2 with a double break in the eighth game. 

Djokovic and Cacic earned two breaks in the fifth and ninth games to win the third set 6-3. 

“I am proud of the fighting spirit. We dropped off in the second set, but we bounced back and held our nerves. I am proud of Nikola and of my team”, said Djokovic. 

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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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