Rafael Nadal Returns In Washington Ahead Of Historic US Open Bid - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Returns In Washington Ahead Of Historic US Open Bid

Rafael Nadal returns to action next week when he competes at the Citi Open in Washington.

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Rafael Nadal (@CitiOpen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal makes his return to the tour in Washington this week ahead of a history-making two weeks in New York.

The top seed will enter the Citi Open next week playing his first tournament since losing in the Roland Garros semi-finals to Novak Djokovic.

Nadal leads the field as he prepares for a crucial few weeks coming up with history awaiting at the US Open.

Heading into the tournament at Flushing Meadows, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are all level at 20 grand slams.

With Federer still recovering from his knee injury and Djokovic looking exhausted from his Olympic bid, Nadal will look to capitalise on a golden opportunity to get in-front in the race to being the greatest of all time.

In Washington, Nadal will begin his campaign against either Jack Sock or Yoshihito Nishioka.

A potential third round meeting with Lloyd Harris could await while Nadal could face 7th seed and in-form Cameron Norrie in the last eight.

Norrie is coming off of a title in Los Cabos having won the third most matches this season behind Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Also in the Spaniard’s half is Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, Benoit Paire, Taylor Fritz and Dan Evans.

In the bottom half of the draw Felix Auger-Aliassime will face Andreas Seppi or a qualifier in the opening round.

The Canadian is also projected to meet Frances Tiafoe and Reilly Opelka en route to the semi-finals.

The likes of Jannik Sinner, Sebastian Korda and Alex De Minaur are also in Auger-Aliassime’s half of the draw

Play starts on Monday with Nadal’s opening match set to take place on Wednesday night local time.

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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Jannik Sinner Starts Bid For French Open Glory, No.1 Ranking With Straight Sets Win

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Jannik Sinner has begun his quest for a second straight Grand Slam title with a first round victory at the French Open on Monday.

The world No.2 battled his way to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, win over Chris Eubanks in what was their second Tour-level meeting. Sinner’s latest triumph extends his almost perfect start to the season with him winning 29 out of 31 matches contested. Against Eubanks, who has been ranked as high as 29th in the world, he hit 33 winners against 27 unforced errors and saved nine out of 10 break points faced.  

“I’m just happy to be back on court,” said Sinner
“This is a very special tournament for me. Here was the first time where I reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. I have some great memories.
“I’m just trying to build (on his form) every day and I’m happy with this performance.” 

Playing in his first match since pulling out of the Madrid Open due to a hip injury, the second seed began his Paris campaign with a testing opening set against Wimbledon quarter-finalist Eubanks. A player who has struggled in recent months with only four Tour-level wins to his name so far this season. Sinner raced out to a 4-1 lead before getting broken for the first time. Despite the blip, he sealed the opener in just under 40 minutes.

Continuing to tighten his grip on proceedings, it wasn’t long before his rival voiced his frustration after being heard saying to his coach early in the second frame that ‘he has no rhythm on his serve.’ Meanwhile, Sinner stuck to his game plan and showed no signs of any discomfort in his hip. Although there were occasional moments where the Italian hit some below-par shots before swiftly picking himself up again. Something that was best illustrated in the final game of the second set where he saved off a trio of break points. 

The biggest scare for Sinner was his right leg which he was seen holding and moving tentatively towards the closing stages. Nevertheless, he managed to shake off the issue to claim his 12th main draw win in Paris after more than two hours of play. 

“The hip is good, I’m very happy.” He replied when asked about his current fitness. “My team and I were working very hard to be back on court as soon as possible. Without my team, this wouldn’t be possible.
“For sure the general shape is not one hundred percent yet. 
“I’m happy about what I have achieved (so far in his career) but our (Sinner’s team) goal is to improve every day.”

Awaiting him in the second round will be home favourite Richard Gasquet, who produced an impressive straight-sets win over Borna Coric in front of a highly animated home crowd. It will be their third meeting on the Tour which is likely to take place on the premier Philippe Chatrier court later this week.

“To play against Sinner is exceptional,” said Gasquet. 
“So I’ll try and make the most of it and enjoy this great opportunity that I’m given because I’m on the central court. I’ll be on the central court, and this player is amazing.”

Sinner, who turns 23 in August, is on the verge of becoming the first Italian man to claim the ATP No.1 ranking. He currently leads the live standings with rival Novak Djokovic required to reach at least the semi-final stage in Paris to have a chance of maintaining his position. Should he reach the final, the top position will be his regardless of what happens. 

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