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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Kei Nishikori Issues Fitness Update Ahead Of New Season

After a difficult season where he could only win two matches, the world No.41 is hoping to get back on track next year.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori says he is eager to start competing against the best in the world again after what has been a troublesome season.

 

The 30-year-old has only been able to play four tournaments this year due to a combination of injury, the pandemic and illness. Nishikori underwent surgery on his shoulder in October 2019 which subsequently resulted in him missing the start of this season. Then he was forced to pull out of his planned return at the US Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Eventually he returned to action in Kitzbuhel during September but had to close his season early a few weeks later after injuring his shoulder at the French Open.

“We had a few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Kyodo news quoted Nishikori as saying on Friday. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

Overall, Nishikori won just two out of six matches played on the Tour in 2020. Scoring wins over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome and Britain’s Dan Evans at Roland Garros. The highest ranked player he faced was No.22 Christian Garin, who he lost 6-0, 6-3, to in Hamburg.

Despite his setbacks, the Japanese player insists that he is now back on track and his shoulder is at ‘a decent level.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”
“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

One of Nishikori’s goals for next year will be the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo for the first time since 1964. The Games have to be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nishikori is the only player from his country to have won an Olympic medal during the Open Era after winning bronze in 2016.

I think it’s hard for athletes and the public to think about the Olympics right now. I just want to prepare well,he said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nishikori has been ranked as high fourth in the world but is currently in 41st position. So far in his career he has won 12 ATP titles and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2020 ATP Awards

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Nominees have been announced for the ATP Awards for all player-voted categories (Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the year, Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award) and Coach of the Year. 

 

The Fans’s Favourite Award and and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award Award will be announced later this month. Fans can vote for their favourite singles player and doubles team through 11 December. 

Three-time winner and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will be up against 2020 Rome finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist Diego Schwartzman, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and John Millman in the Sportsmanship category. 

Schwartzman is among the nominees in the Most Improved player category and will be against Ugo Humbert, five-time ATP Tour titlist Andrey Rublev and 2020 Sofia ATP Tour champion and 2019 Next Gen ATP Tour champion Jannik Sinner. The Most Improved player of the Year reached a higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and showed an increasingly improved level of performance through the year. 

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are Kevin Anderson, Andrey Kuznetsov, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. The Compeback Player of the Year has overcome a serious injury in re-establishing as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

The contenders for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Carlos Alcaraz (winner in three Challenger tournaments in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante), Sebastian Korda (winner of his first Challenger title in Eckental), Lorenzo Musetti (title in Parma and third-round in Rome Masters 1000), Jurij Rodionov (first Challenger titles in Dallas and Morelos) , Emil Ruusuvuori (semifinalist in Nur Sultan) and Thiago Seyboth Wild (first title in Santiago de Chlle)

The Coach of the Year Award contenders are Juan Ignacio Chela (Diego Schwartzman), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Nicolas Massu (Dominic Thiem), Riccardo Piatti (Jannik Sinner) and Fernando Vicente (Andrey Rublev). 

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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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