Rafael Nadal Excels Once Again At His Beloved French Open - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Excels Once Again At His Beloved French Open

The king of clay dominated his match against world No.1 Djokovic to continue what will perhaps be the most dominant run at a Grand Slam tournament in history.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Records are meant to be broken, and almost all existing ones will indeed be broken over the next century.

All but one, though, because no one will ever win the French Open 13 times or amass 100 victories with just a pair of defeats over a 15-year span like Rafa Nadal has done. The Spaniard thoroughly and utterly dominated Djokovic, even from a tactical perspective, a feat that could be hardly predicted. As a matter of fact, the Eurosport crew, made of full-on or borderline Hall-of-Famers like McEnroe, Wilander, Courier and Henman, foresaw that the Serbian, who has a more complete and varied repertoire of shots, would have finally dethroned Nadal in Paris, aided by the perks of a heavy court to counter his opponent’s vaunted-and-yet-blunted topspin groundstrokes. Moreover, the final was played under the roof of the Philip Chatrier stadium, another element that was thought to work in the world number one’s favour, since he usually annihilates the competition when playing indoors. 

 

Well, they were all wrong, we were all wrong, especially vis-à-vis the proportions of the scoreline. Djokovic had never been beaten so harshly in a Major final; what’s more is that Nadal could have actually trundled his way to an even bigger triumph, since he was leading 3-2 with a break in the third set before losing his serve for the sole time – he also had a break point at 4-4 to serve the match out a few minutes earlier than he ended up doing, when Djokovic double faulted at 5-5 to concede for good. Up 6-5 40-0, the King of Clay aced out the tournament in style with a typical southpaw slice serve, leaving Djokovic agape once more before falling to his knees – he would later give way to tears during the Spanish national anthem.

What are the reasons behind such a blowout, aside from journalistic clichés such as “Rafa was at his best, and it just wasn’t Novak’s day”?

  1. Djokovic’s serve was appalling. He seldom put a first serve in play. The first two times he got broken, he was 2 out of 8 and 1 out of 6, respectively. He fought valiantly for 33 minutes, but after falling 4-0 behind he managed to lose his serve again after springing to a 40-0 lead…
  2. He got a little too enamoured of the drop shot (he hit 35 against Tsitsipas, about 30 against Nadal), failing to realise that the quick nature of those points doesn’t give him enough rhythm and control with his groundstrokes. If a player like him, who thrives in long and asphyxiating exchanges based on moving the opponent, loses the habit to go over nine shots, he will end up suffering against Nadal, a player who pretty much never misses – just three unforced errors in the opening two sets.
  3. While the Spaniard’s signature shot is his forehand, during the final he wreaked havoc with the slice backhand as well. The shot landed low and short, forcing Djokovic to take a few steps forward in no-man’s land (the area between the service line and the baseline), offering him an uncomfortable look on which it was very difficult to inject pace. 

The outcome was that Rafa won his favourite tournament without dropping a set for the fourth time after already doing so in 2008, 2010, and 2017. Jannik Sinner was the only one who got to at least try serve out a set against him – if the Italian was able to do that at 19, who knows how good he’ll become in the next few years, since his performance didn’t happen by chance.

Roger Federer, who was in Milan during the weekend when his frenemy equaled his record tally of 20 Majors (Djokovic is at 17), immediately took to social media to comment on Nadal’s win: “I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players […]. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Nadal replied during his press conference: I think, as everybody know, we have a very, very good relationship. We respect each other a lot. At the same time in some way I think he’s happy when I’m winning and I’m happy when he’s doing the things well. I never hide that for me, I always say the same, that I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams. But in the other hand I say, okay, I have to do it my way. I did my way during all my career. In terms of these records, of course that I care. I am a big fan of the history of sport in general. I respect a lot that. For me means a lot to share this number with Roger, no? But let’s see what’s going on when we finish our careers.”

In 1930, Italian cyclist Alfredo Binda was offered a huge sum to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia after winning it for five years in a row. Will it happen to Rafa Nadal in Paris too? It looks like the only way to stop him.

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt

A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.

Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.

There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.

The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.

Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.

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