Rafael Nadal Survives Tsitsipas Marathon To Win Barcelona Again - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Survives Tsitsipas Marathon To Win Barcelona Again

The king of clay will climb back to No.2 in the world rankings on Monday following his latest triumph.

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 25: Rafael Nadal of Spain ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona on April 25, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images)

Rafael Nadal has won his 12th Barcelona title after beating the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in a epic three set encounter.

The world No.3 held his nerve to prevail 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 in a final that lasted three hours and 38 minutes which is the longest best-of-three match of 2021. Nadal hit 36 winners en route to the win while Tsitsipas hit 39 unforced errors.

 

“I never played a final like this in this tournament against a player like him, he won the title in Monte Carlo and went all the way to the final here without losing a set so it’s an important victory for me,” said Nadal.
I think I have been increasing my level the whole week and this victory confirms it so that’s important. To have the trophy with me at home means a lot but at the same time for the future”

World number five Tsitsipas got off to a good start earning the first breakpoint of the match and breaking to take an early 3-1 lead. On the Spaniard next service game he was forced to save two more breakpoints amid intense pressure from the Greek.

At 4-3 Nadal started applying pressure on the world number five and managed to earn two breakpoints of his very own. Breaking to send the match back on serve at 4-4.

The next game Tsitsipas had two chances to break once again to regain the lead but the Mallorca native would once again come up big, saving both to hold serve. The world number three than went on the offensive getting a look at two set points on his opponent’s serve and managed to break once again to take the first set and win four straight games in the process.

The second set was more of the same with a see-saw battle between both players and it was the Greek once again with the first chance to break and he took full advantage breaking once again to take a 2-1 lead.

At 3-2 the Spaniard pulled off another comeback earning three chances to break to send the set back on serve and it took until his third look to get the break back. With the world number five serving to stay in the match the Spaniard earned two match points but the Greek would save both.

The next game Tsitsipas had three more chances to break but Nadal would save all and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker. It stayed on serve until 5-4 when the Greek broke to set up two set points at 6-4 but the world number three would win the next two points. Tsitsipas would earn a set point off an untimely double fault from the Spaniard and he would take the second set to force a third and deciding set for the title.

The third set surprisingly stayed on serve until 5-4 when the world number five earned a match point but Nadal was able to save it and hold serve. The very next game the Spaniard had four chances to break and it took him till the fourth one to finally break and serve the match out.

After the match in his post match press conference Tsitsipas spoke out about what positives he can take from the last two weeks winning the title in Monte Carlo and making the final in Barcelona and pushing Nadal to three sets on clay.

“That’s great stuff but I was looking for a win and I felt there was opportunities that I had and for some reason, I didn’t take (it),” he said, “I felt I could have pulled off better tennis but I’m happy that I brought him (Nadal) so close. I was a match point up, that ball was literally two centimetres from winning that match point”

Nadal on the other hand was pleased with the fact he won another title in his home country and was asked how he is able to still compete year after year on such a hard tour.

“It means a lot to me, it’s difficult to manage something like this 10 or 15 years ago but here we are,” he said. “I mean I went through some tough moments in my career with injuries but I always hold the passion and the love for the sport to keep going with a great team and a great family that have been so important for holding the passion and the motivation to help me in those low moments. I am super happy to be where I am today and it’s an important achievement for me”

Nadal will move up to number two in the world on Monday with the win which is also his 12th title in Barcelona.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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