'A Positive Start' - Rafael Nadal Reacts To Opening Win ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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‘A Positive Start’ – Rafael Nadal Reacts To Opening Win ATP Finals

The 20-time Grand Slam winner provides an assessment of his performance at the season-ending tournament.

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Rafael Nadal’s quest for a maiden ATP Finals title has got off to a dream start after he eased to a straight sets win in his opening match on Sunday.

 

The world No.2 swept aside Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4, in what was the first meeting between the two since 2017. Once described by his opponent as ‘the best athlete in history,’ Nadal lived up to that praise by answering all the questions that were asked of him throughout the 76-minute encounter at The O2 Arena. Remaining unbroken throughout his latest match, he hit 16 winners and two aces past Rublev en route to victory.

“I think it was a positive start for me. The first match is always very tricky. Here (at The O2) it is always tricky because you play the best of the best. I’m very happy,” said Nadal.

Heading into the match Nadal knew he potentially had a stern challenge in front of him. Tournament debutante Rublev has already won five titles and 40 matches on the ATP Tour this year which is more than any other player. Nevertheless, the former world No.1 glided his way through what was largely a straightforward opening set. Six games into the match he launched his first strike by breaking the Russian, who hit a shot that touched the net before landing out on break point. Prompting Rublev to slam his racket on the ground out of anger after falling behind 2-4. Meanwhile, a composed Nadal stuck to his game plan as he clinched the set three games later with the help of a love service game.

Continuing with his high intensity, Nadal wore down his 23-year-old rival by breaking once again at the start of the second frame. Prompting Rublev to drop his head out of frustration. The problems continued for the world No.8 whose inconsistency on court prevented him from bouncing back.

“In general I was not serving good at all because I was a little bit nervous which is normal. Then when he broke me in the second set I relaxed and I started to serve much better and it was a difficult game but it was too late,” Rublev reflected.
“This was only my second time against Rafa and I have played Roger (Federer) once before. I have only played three times against top three players so I don’t have much experience so the more I play against them the better I think I will perform.”

Closing in on his 19th win at an ATP Finals tournament, Nadal continued to dictate play. Serving for the victory, he worked to three match points with the help of a winning smash at the net. He prevailed on his second opportunity with a serve down the centre of the court which Rublev returned out.

“I went on court with a determination to try to play my game. I think my serve worked very well tonight which is always a big help on these surfaces,” Nadal commented.
“I’m pleased with my victory and it changes my perspective of the tournament a bit.

Nadal will continue his ATP Finals title bid on Tuesday afternoon when he takes on Dominic Thiem. He currently leads their head-to-head 9-5.

“For me it is going to be a tough one and hopefully it will be the same for him too. I’m going to try and be ready for it. I know it will be a tough challenge but I believe today has helped me for that match. Tomorrow I have the day off to practice, work on what I need to do and I hope to be ready,” Nadal concluded.

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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 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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