As The Season Approaches Its End Rafael Nadal Eyes Maiden Glory In Paris And London - UBITENNIS
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As The Season Approaches Its End Rafael Nadal Eyes Maiden Glory In Paris And London

The 34-year-old is yet to conquer either of the two premier end-of-season tournaments but is that about to change in 2020?

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Despite his record-breaking career Rafael Nadal hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to closing out a season on the Tour.

 

Various injury issues has resulted in the Spaniard only being able to play at the Paris Masters in three out of the past six years. Although in two out of those three appearances in 2017 and 2019 he withdrew injured midway through the tournament. Ironically Nadal’s misfortunes occur in the same city where he has won a historic 13 French Open titles on the clay. Despite the disappointments could 2020 by Nadal’s year at the Masters 1000 event which is played at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy?

“It is true that, of course, at the end of the year in the past I arrived sometimes very tired physically and sometimes mentally, too,” Nadal told reporters on Sunday.
“At the same time on indoor courts I need to be fresh, I need to be in full conditions. It is probably the surface that I need to be playing better to try to have success.”

It has been 13 years since Nadal contested a final in Bercy in what was the only occasion he has done so. Although the 34-year-old is also a three-time semi-finalist, including last year. Despite his mishaps at the tournament, Nadal insists that the possibility of getting injured is the last thing on his mind.

“When I go to a tournament, I don’t think about this kind of stuff because if I think that way I would not be playing,” He explained.
“So when I go to a tournament, I just focus on trying to play my best tennis. Not worry about if I got injured in the past that can happen again.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing professional men’s tennis to take a five-month break earlier this year, Nadal has only played five tournaments where he has achieved a win-loss record of 22-4. Besides the French Open, he also won a title in Mexico during the first week of March.

The light schedule undoubtedly had both negatives and positives. For Nadal he and others were unable to maintain a consistent rate of match play throughout the year but at the same time he had enough time to rest his body. Raising the question about if he is tempted to continue a restricted playing schedule when the calendar returns back to its normal routine?

“I like to play tennis, so I like to play a little bit more than two tournaments every six or seven months,” he joked.
“This year worked well. It was not the ideal situation. Of course normally I like to play a little bit more before important tournaments but not because of the important tournament.’
“I hope next year we can have a more usual calendar and I can play some more tennis.”

Bercy isn’t the only big tournament where Nadal is yet to claim a title. Another is the season-ending ATP Finals that will take place at The O2 in London for the final time before relocating to Italy. His best performance was settling for runner-up twice with the most recent occurring back in 2013.

“At the World Finals I have been there a lot of times in the semifinals and final a couple of times,” Nadal reflected.
“It’s a tough tournament to win, playing against the best players in the world under difficult circumstances.’
“I’m going to keep trying my best as I did all my tennis career and I hope to give myself a chance.”

Nadal’s record at the Paris Masters and ATP Finals

YearBercy (Masters 1000)ATP Finals
2006SF
2007RUSF
2008QF
2009SFRR
2010RU
2011RR
2012
2013SFRU
2014
2015QFSF
2016
2017QFRR
2018
2019SFRR
TOTAL WIN/LOSS19/518/14

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Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown

Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATPTour_ES - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.

 

After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.

The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.

It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.

Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.

However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.

The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.

An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.

At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.

Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.

There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.

Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.

Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’

After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.

“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.

As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.

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Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner

Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.

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Dominic Thiem (@atptour - Twitter)

The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.

 

Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.

“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.

It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.

That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.

In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.

That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.

After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.

“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.

With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.

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Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud

The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.

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Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.

 

The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.

“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”

Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.

“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”

The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.

At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.

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