Rafael Nadal Weights In On GOAT Debate After French Open Win, Praise From Federer - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Weights In On GOAT Debate After French Open Win, Praise From Federer

The world No.2 speaks out about who should be regarded as the greatest of all time in men’s tennis following his latest victory in Paris.

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Rafael Nadal’s latest triumph at the French Open has once against reignited a debate that he has been involved in throughout most of his career.

 

The world No.2 produced a clinical performance during his straight sets win over Novak Djokovic to win a record-equalling 20th major title along with Roger Federer. Who is five years older than the Spaniard. Nadal is the first player – male or female – to have won the same major 13 times and now has 999 wins on the ATP Tour. His latest achieved has been hailed by many, including Federer himself who paid tribute in a social media post.

“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,” Federer wrote on Twitter. “Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.”
“It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport,”
he added.

Unlike Nadal, Federer is going through a dry spell when it comes to claiming Grand Slam trophies with his last triumph occurring at the 2018 Australian Open. Since then he has only reached one final at Wimbledon last year where he lost to Djokovic who is the other member of the illustrious Big Three.

“Thanks Roger for the words,” Nadal commented during his press conference.“I think, as everybody knows, we have a 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.”

The question pundits are now asking is if Nadal can go on to become the GOAT of the sport. For years a debate has surrounded the Big Three with arguments for each of them to be given the honour. Federer still holds the record for most weeks at world No.1 but Djokovic is on course to break that next year. The Swiss has also won more ATP titles than the other two but he is the oldest. Meanwhile, Nadal has won more titles on the clay than anybody in ATP history which is underscored by his French Open dominance in recent years. Finally, Djokovic is the youngest of the trio and is the only one to have a winning head-to-head record against the other two.

To an extent the GOAT debate is somewhat subjective and can be interpreted by how a person defines greatness. But what does Nadal think?

“I always say the same, that I would love to finish my career being the player with the most Grand Slams. No doubt about that,” he said.
“On the other hand, I have to do it my way during all of my career and it worked well. I’m not going to be thinking all the time Novak has this one, Roger is winning the other one. You can’t be always unhappy because your neighbour has a bigger house than you or a bigger boat or has a better phone. You have to live your personal life.”

For Nadal, he believes history will be the ultimate judge as he vowed to enjoy living in the moment and not get too distracted by chasing records. Although he does already have a few to his name, including winning more Grand Slams (six) after their 30th birthday than any other male player.

“Let’s see what’s going on when we finish our careers. I don’t know what can happen in the future. I am just excited. At the same time sharing this (Grand Slam) record between us, that we had an amazing rivalry for such a long time, is something in some way beautiful I believe.”

It is unclear as to if Nadal will return to the Tour again this season despite qualifying for the ATP Finals. Questioned about his plans in the coming months, he say he will discuss options with his team in the coming days.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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