Rafael Nadal Topples Djokovic At French Open To Equal Federer's Grand Slam Record - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Topples Djokovic At French Open To Equal Federer’s Grand Slam Record

The highly-anticipated showdown was largely a one-man show with the king of clay dominating from the onset.

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

Rafael Nadal has become the first player in history to win the same Grand Slam for the 13th time after crushing world No.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

The clinical display from the Spaniard saw him prevail 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, over Djokovic in what was one of the most one-sided clashes between the two in their extensive rivalry. The showdown saw Nadal hit 31 winners as he capitalized on a costly 52 unforced errors produced by his nemesis. He also broke seven times and won 67% of his first served en route to his latest title.

“Congrats to Novak for another great tournament. Sorry for today but in Australia he killed me a couple times (on the court). For me that is part of the game. We have played each other plenty of times and one day I win and then he the other,” Nadal said during his on-court interview.
“After all the things I have gone through in my career in terms of injuries without a great team and family around me everything would have been impossible. I just want to say thank you very much to all of my team.” He added.

Locking horns for the 56th time in what is an Open Era record for men’s tennis, Nadal got off to a near-perfect start by bageling his rival for only the second time in his career. Despite the score being one-sided, the opener showed glimmers of world class tennis from both men with four out of the six games going to deuce. Nadal showed off his signature forehand shot against Djokovic’s emphatic defence. Although it was the Spaniard who dominated when it came to the important points as he broke three times in a row. Meanwhile, a perplexed Djokovic struggled with his first serve as he only managed to win four points which was three times less than his rival. Resulting in Nadal sealing the 6-0 lead with the help of a 177KMH serve out wide on set point after 46 minutes of play.

The problems continued for the top seed in the second frame. Three games in, Nadal extended his stronghold to a set and a break after a Djokovic forehand slammed into the net. Prompting the Serbian to drop his head in a sign of both disappointment and frustration. The reigning champion continued to reign supreme on Court Phillippe Chatrier with answers to every question that his opponent asked of him. Battling his way to the two-set advantage, a time violation did little to disrupt Nadal’s momentum as he extended his lead with the help of another loose shot from across the court.

Astonishingly Djokovic didn’t draw blood from his rival until two hours and 10 minutes into the final. After producing an error-stricken game where he got broken to love, he broke back instantly to level 3-3 in the third set. Prompting a huge roar from Djokovic who tried to orchestrate the crowd to give him extra support.

Despite the mini comeback, it wasn’t enough to deny Nadal title No.13 at Roland Garros. A Djokovic forehand error followed by a double fault rewarded the world No.2 another break but more crucially the chance to serve the match out. A task he passed with flying colours following another love game that concluded with an ace.

“It was a very tough match for me today. Obviously I am not pleased with the way I played but I was definitely overplayed by a better player,” Djokovic commented on his performance afterwards.
“It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks. This situation is very difficult for everyone worldwide but we have the possibility to play the sport that we love and I am very grateful for everyone who has organised this tournament.”

Djokovic’s mention of playing during the current climate was also echoed by Nadal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s event is taking place later than usual following a five-month break with players being regularly tested for the virus.

“I want to send a message to everybody around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments that I think we will remember is this world fighting against the virus. Just keep fighting, stay positive and all the best. We will go through this and win soon.” He said.

Sunday’s win means that Nadal has drawn level with Federer for most Grand Slam titles won at 20 each. Furthermore, six of those titles won have occurred after his 30th birthday in what is an Open Era record on the ATP Tour. Nadal has also become the first man in history to have won four Grand Slams without dropping a set. He also achieved a clean sheet at the French Open in 2008, 2010 and 2017.

“It’s been a very tough year but being here (at Roland Garros) means everything to me,” Nadal reflected. “For me, I am not thinking today about equalling Roger with this great number. Today is just a Roland Garros victory and that means everything to me.’
“I have spent the most important moments of my tennis career here, no doubt. The love affair I have with this city and this court is just unforgettable.”

Nadal is the first player – male or female – to have won 100 matches at the French Open.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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