Rafael Nadal finishes second in the "World Male Athlete of the Year" Award carried by L'Equipe newspaper - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal finishes second in the “World Male Athlete of the Year” Award carried by L’Equipe newspaper

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Rafael Nadal finished second in the “World Male Athlete of the Year” award behind seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in the traditional end-of-year poll carried out by the French Sports newspaper L’Equipe. 

 

Nadal could not repeat last year’s win, but ranked second with 437 votes ahead of NBA champion Lebron James. Hamilton prevailed with 1866 points. 

The Spanish tennis legend finished the 2020 season inside the top 2 in the ATP Ranking for the record-breaking 12th year. 

Nadal started the 2020 season at the Australian Open, where he reached his 12th quarter final before losing to Dominic Thiem. 

He won his third Acapulco ATP 500 title and the 85th trophy  of his career beating Taylor Fritz and clinched the 13th Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam title of his career. His win over world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the French Open final marked the 999th win of his career and the 100th win of his career. 

Nadal decided to skip the US hard-court season and did not play at the Western and Southern Open and the US Open in New York. He made his return to the court at the Rome Masters 1000 tournament, where he lost to Diego Schwartzman 6-2 7-5 in the quarter finals as defending champion. It was the 15th time he advanced to the top eight in the Italian capital. 

In his 16th appearance at Roland Garros Nadal suffered just eight breaks in seven matches and won his 13th crown in the French capital without dropping a set. The Mallorcan player beat Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal 6-3 6-3 7-6 to set up a final clash against Novak Djokovic. 

In the Roland Garros final Nadal beat Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in 2 hours and 41 minutes to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles. One month later Nadal returned to the French capital to play at the Paris Rolex Masters. He won his 1000th match beating Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 7-5 6-1 in the quarter final before losing to Alexander Zverev in the semifinal. Rafa reached the semifinal at the ATP Finals in London where he served for the match against Danil Medvedev 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 3-6. 

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Filip Krajinovic edges Stefano Travaglia to reach the second round at the Serbian Open in Belgrade

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Filip Krajinovic battled past Stefano Travaglia 7-5 5-7 6-3 to advance to the second round at the Serbian Open in Belgrade. Travaglia saved three break points in the sixth and eighth games of the first set, but Krajinovic converted his third break point in the 12th game to claim the first set 7-5. 

 

Krajinovic earned a break in the sixth game on his second chance in the second set to build up a 7-5 4-2 lead. Travaglia broke back in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. The Italian player saved a match point on his serve before breaking serve in the 11th game to claim the second set 7-5. 

Travaglia broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and earned a break point in the fifth game, but Krajinovic saved it with a passing shot. Krajinovic won four consecutive games from 2-3 to take the second set 6-3. 

John Millman converted four of his seventeen break points to beat Danilo Petrovic 7-5 6-4 after 1 hour and 51 minutes. Petrovic broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Millman converted his sixth break-back point in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Millman closed out the first set 7-5 with a break in the 12th game. Millman went up a break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Petrovic broke straight back in the third game. Millman sealed the second set 6-4 with a break in the 10th game. 

The Australian player will face either Pablo Cuevas or Emil Ruusuvuori. Marco Cecchinato eased past Viktor Troicki 6-1 6-4 with three breaks. Nikola Milojevic cruised past Federico Coria 6-4 6-0.

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Kei Nishikori survives scare to beat Guido Pella at the Barcelona Open

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Two-time Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori came back from one set down to beat Guido Pella 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after 2 hours and 39 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at the Conde de Godò. 

 

Pella converted his fifth break point in the fifth game to win the first set 6-4. The Argentine player built up a 6-4 4-2 lead i. Nishikori broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Pella got his fourth break point opportunity in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead. Nishikori was forced to break serve to stay in the match in the 12th game.

In the tie-break Pella went up a mini-break to take a 3-0 lead. Nishikori came back by winning five consecutive five points to take a 5-3 lead with two mini-breaks. Pella pulled back the mini-break for 4-5, but Nishikori won the final two points to take a 7-4 lead. 

Nishikori went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Pella pulled back one break back in the sixth game, but Nishikori earned his third break to claim the third set 6-2. 

“He had the match today at 6-5, serving for the match. He was much better in the first and second sets and 3-0 up in the tie-break. I don’t know how I fought through. In the third set, I was playing much better. I was making so many unforced errors in the first and second sets. Maybe he got a little bit tired and I was playing strong in the third set. I want to take that to the next round. The way I fought today and the way I played in the third set was good”, said Nishikori. 

Nishikori will take on Christian Garin, who won his only previous head-to-head match against his Japanese rival 6-0 6-3. 

Egor Gerasimov converted four of his five break points in his 7-5 6-1 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. 

Former Barcelona finalist Pablo Andujar broke six times to edge past Gilles Simon 6-1 3-6 6-3. Andujar set up a second round match against Roberyo Bautista Agut. 

Qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles came back from a set down to beat Andrey Kuznetsov

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Stefanos Tsitsipas follows in the footsteps of his mother Julia Salnikova in Monte-Carlo

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Stefanos Tsitsipas won the first Masters 1000 title and the sixth overall trophy of his career in Monte-Carlo without dropping a set, ending a streak of defeats in his past three finals. The Greek player has made a perfect start to the clay-season, which will lead up to Roland Garros, where he is aiming to win his first Grand Slam title. 

 

“Whatever had to happen happened. I stepped up my game, brought up this good game, good tennis. I didn’t see any reason for me to leave from here without the trophy. I felt like I deserved it. I have put so much effort and so much concentration into it. Definitely something that I deserve. More opportunities like this is going to show up and come up in the future, so I need to be ready to show my consistency and prevail with that”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas moved above Rublev to the top of the ATP Race to Turin. The Greek star leads 4-3 in his head-to-head matches against Rublev. He avenged the recent defeat against his Russian rival in last month’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Championships semifinals in Rotterdam. Tsitsipas also beat Rublev in straight sets in last year’s Roland Garros quarter finals. 

“That is great. It’s just the beginning. We still have plenty of tennis to be played. It’s great to be in the lead. I am not trying to think of it too much, because, again, many tournaments in front of me, ahead of me. I am going to try to recalibrate, refocus. Attention is now in Barcelona. My body is feeling good, which is good sign. I am really pumped to go for some more points in the next couple of weeks”. 

Tsitsipas dropped just nine games across four sets to edge past Dan Evans and Andrey Rublev. He became only the third active player to win the first Masters 1000 title without dropping a set after Novak Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov. 

Tsitsipas followed into the footsteps of his mother Julia Salnikova, who won a junior title in Monte-Carlo in 1981. Stefanos grew up in a family with a sporting heritage. His grandfather Sergei Salnikov, who won the Olympic gold medal in football in Melbourne 1956 in the same Australian Open, where Stefanos reached the Australian Open semifinal in 2019 and 2021. 

“To share this is incredible. The first time I walked in that club, the Monte-Carlo Country Club, with my mom, I think that was when I was six years old. She showed me her name up there. I remember seeing it for the first time. I was stunned. That is really cool. How cool is that. “I did not think about it in the beginning of the tournament, but it came to my mind when I was playing the semifinals. I was thinking that it would be really cool to be in this together, like mother like son. That’s where the whole purpose came from. I feel like there was an enormous amount of willingness to want to do more in order to be there with my mother. There are two people I would like to dedicate this title to. My coach bak in Greece, who I mentioned in the trophy ceremony, and also my mom, because she pushed me to aim for that”, said Tsitsipas.

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