Rafael Nadal Ousts Reigning Champion Tsitsipas To Reach ATP Finals Semis - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Ousts Reigning Champion Tsitsipas To Reach ATP Finals Semis

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has moved to just two wins away from his maiden title at the championships.

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Spanish king of clay Rafael Nadal has extended his stay at this year’s ATP Finals after outlasting Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, in a must win showdown on Thursday. 

The world No.2 headed into the match knowing the loser of the encounter would also be eliminated from the round-robin competition. Nadal has also beaten Andrey Rublev but lost to Dominic Thiem earlier in the week. In his latest match against Tsitsipas, he remained largely dominant behind serve as he won 81% of his first serves throughout the 126-minute showdown. Furthermore, Nadal also produced eight aces and 32 winners to seal a spot in the semi-finals.

 

“I think I played quite well for such a long time,” Nadal said afterwards. “That game at 5-4 in the second affected me a little bit… I think I was winning my serves quite comfortably until that moment. After that, everything changed a little bit. I think I started to serve a little bit worse.’
“But in general terms have been a very positive match for me, to be in the semi-finals here at the last tournament of the year is an important thing.”

Seeking his first ever ATP Finals title at the age of 34, Nadal entered the match with a dominant record against his Greek opponent. Not only did he lead their head-to-head 5-1, the Spaniard had only been broken by Tsitsipas once in their three previous meetings on a hard court.

Continuing that trend in their clash at The O2 Arena, both players went toe-by-toe early on. Nadal had two opportunities to break in the seventh game but was unable to convert thanks to some spirited play from across the court. However, two games later he secured the breakthrough after a Tsitsipas double fault net gifted him the break for 5-4. Gaining in momentum Nadal went on to clinch the opener with ease after producing back-to-back aces, which registered at 123mph and 126 mph.

In a match of fine margins even the slightest of blips could prove critical which was the case during the second frame. Both players looked solid behind serve with Nadal dropping just five points overall. Unfortunately for the Spaniard he faltered at the worst possible moment. Trailing 4-5, he came under intense pressure from Tsitsipas. A smash at the net by the world No.6 elevated him to set point, which he converted after a Nadal double fault.

Turning into a mental and physical test for both players, they traded blows at the start of the decider before Nadal edged ahead 3-1 to restore his lead once again. Turning up the heat on a fading Tsitsipas, he extended his stronghold to 5-2 by clinching a double break after a wild forehand from his opponent. Tasked with serving the roller-coaster clash out, he prevailed on his second match point after hitting a clean backhand winner. Making it the 71st match in a row Nadal has won after winning the first set.

“It’s always difficult to play here (at the ATP Finals) against the best players in the world every single day at the end of the season. Most of the time when you get here you’re a little bit tired but this year is a little bit different,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion explained.
“I’m sad about the situation (of no fans attending). Normally after a good match the atmosphere should be fantastic as always but it is a different story (this year).’
“I’m exited to be in the semi-finals and I hope to be ready to play my best. “

Thursday’s win brings an end to Tsitsipas’ 2020 season. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 29-14 with the only title he won being at the Open 13 in Marseille. Although he has reached the final of two ATP 500 events in Dubai and Hamburg, as well as the semi-finals of the French Open.

“I fought very hard during the second set and played with the right intentions which gave me a lot of opportunities. I am quite disappointed with the third (set). It didn’t go as planned. I was rushing and I don’t even know what I was trying to do,” a critical Tsitsipas said during his press conference.

Nadal is through to the semi-final stage for the first time since 2015 and sixth overall. This year marks his 10th appearance at the event. He will next take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be a repeat of the 2019 US Open final. Medvedev has already beaten Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic in straight sets this week. Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 3-0.

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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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Casper Ruud Opens Up About What It Is Like Playing Roger Federer

The 21-year-old explains what it is like to face somebody who is considered by some as the ‘greatest legend’ in tennis.

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Norway’s top tennis player admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before he was set to play Roger Federer for the first time in his career.

 

Casper Ruud has shed light on what it was like for him playing the Swiss Maestro during an interview with TV 2. The 21-year-old took on Federer in the third round of the French Open last year which he ended up losing 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. At the time it was only Ruud’s fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

“When you meet the man who is considered the greatest legend in your sport in history, it is clear that then you were a little extra nervous,” he said of 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“I remember before I was going to play against Federer, it was a bit difficult to sleep the night before. When you lie with your head on the pillow, your thoughts come.”

Ruud says Federer’s achievements in the sport made him feel more nervous about playing him. Overall, the 39-year-old has won 103 ATP titles and currently holds the record for most time spent holding the world No.1 ranking at 310 weeks. He played his first ATP event at the 1998 Gstaad Open, which was a year before Ruud was born.

Although the Next Gen star says he has admiration for all members of the Big Three, which also include Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The two highest ranked players currently on the men’s tour.

“It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was completely quiet and everyone turned around. Now the legend is here,” he said.
“These three legends, they look taller than they might be. They are probably around 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them.”

Since his meeting with Federer in Paris, Ruud has managed to make a name for himself as he gradually climbs up the world rankings. In February he won the Argentina Open to become the first Norwegian player in history to have won a title on the ATP Tour. He also reached the final of another tournament in Santiago. In September he defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Italian Open to record his first and so far only win over a top 10 player in his career.

“I do not remember everyone in my career. But there are some matches that stand out a bit, and that you remember extra well. Some ball exchanges, some punches here and there that you get, which you usually do not do. It is something that stands out a bit,” Ruud explains.

Unusually Ruud confirmed that both of his parents are now classed as his employees. He is coached by his father Christian who is a former player himself. Christian is a former world No.39 who was his country’s highest ranked male player in history until his son.

“The ultimate boss is probably (my) mother. She rules over both of us. In between at least,” he jokes.

After ending his season with three consecutive Tour losses, Ruud closes out 2020 with a win-loss record of 22-13 and has won $965,653 in prize money. He is currently ranked 27th in the world.
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