Daniil Medvedev Knocks Nadal Out Of ATP Finals In Thriller - UBITENNIS
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Daniil Medvedev Knocks Nadal Out Of ATP Finals In Thriller

The world No.2 failed to serve out the match in the second set as Medvedev held his nerve to seal a place in the final.

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Daniil Medvedev has extended Rafael Nadal’s hunt for his first ATP Finals title by at least another year after staging a marathon comeback in their semi-final clash on Saturday.

The world No.4 looked to be on the verge of straight sets loss before fighting back to prevail 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, in what is his first ever win over Nadal on the ATP Tour. Locking horns for more than two-and-a-half hours, Medvedev looked the fresher out of the two during the closing stages as he produced a total of 13 aces and 42 winners. A big contrast to Nadal’s tally of three and 26. Furthermore, the Russian only dropped serve once and broke four times.

“I felt really strange for him (Nadal) when he was serving at 5-4 in the second set for the match,” said Medvedev. “I felt like I was doing great shots, but there were no links in my game and that is why I was losing. He was better in the important moments and I couldn’t return in those important moments.’
“(Then) I decided to change some small things. To be closer (to the lines) and go for it a little bit more because I felt like I had the chance to win some games before.’
“It worked really well and I am really happy about it.”

Taking to the court Medvedev was arguably Nadal’s biggest test so far in the tournament. Heading into the clash, he had won all three of his previous matches in straight sets and had only dropped his serve once. Although early on, it looked as if the Spaniard would be triumphant.

The opener was a tightly contested encounter until the world No.2 struck in the eighth game. Continuing to repeatedly hit the ball deep towards the baseline, Nadal turned the fortunes in his favour after breaking a shaky Medvedev to love for a 5-3 lead. Continuing his surge, he clinched the opening set in the following game with a forehand shot that proved too problematic for his opponent to return.

Despite the breakthrough, Medvedev refused to back down. Triggering memories of their clash at the 2019 US Open when he came from two sets down to force their match into a decider, which Nadal won on that occasion. Capitalising on a sub-par Nadal service game, Medvedev swiftly worked his way to a 3-0 lead in the second frame.

With his back pushed against the wall, the 20-time Grand Slam champion responded in fitting fashion as he clawed his way back to level 4-4. Although part of his comeback was aided by some tentative tennis that was being produced from the other side of the court.

The roller-coaster continued for both men. Initially, it looked as if Nadal would seal the match 6-3, 6-4, after Medvedev produced a dismal service game. However, it was then Nadal’s turn to implode after a series of loose shots enabled the Russian to draw level once again at 5-5. The cat and mouse chase continued into the tiebreak where Medvedev finally seized his opportunity. After coming out on top in a 28-shot rally to clinch an early break, he weathered the storm en route to forcing the match into a final set.

Nadal is regarded as one of the greatest front-runners in the entire sport. Prior to the London semi-finals, he had won 173 out of 175 matches where he had claimed the opening set. However, it wouldn’t be this time round. Instead a Medvedev smash at the net gifted him a break for 4-3 in the decider as he closed in on victory. Nadal was unable to respond as he started to rapidly fade on the court. Enabling Medvedev to prevail on his first match point after a shot from Nadal touched the top of the net but failed to go over.

“I think I achieved enough to not find an excuse about the pressure,” Nadal replied when asked if nerves got the better of him.
“I know I won enough matches and enough tournaments in an even more difficult situation than this one and even in more important matches than tonight.’
“I felt I played a bad game. Of course you are nervous to win the match.’
“I think he played some good points and I make a couple of mistakes. And that’s it, and then he played a good tiebreak.’
“I should have been winning my serve in the third, the one that I lost. I had easy volley to close the game. Small details makes a big difference.”

Medvedev will next play Dominic Thiem in the final on Sunday. The Austrian ousted Novak Djokovic in his semi-final match. It will be the fifth meeting between the two with Thiem currently leading their head-to-head 3-1.

Dominic is an amazing player. I have practice with him twice here (in London) on the centre court. There was really tight points and games so I think there are going to be great tennis tomorrow (in the final),” he previewed.

Should Medvedev win the title he would become the first player to defeat every member of the world’s top three within the same tournament since David Nalbandian at the 2007 Madrid Open.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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