Rafael Nadal Opens Up About Recent Stuggles Following Australian Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Opens Up About Recent Stuggles Following Australian Open Win

The former world No.1 spoke at length about his injury issue moments after recording his 70th win at the Melbourne major.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES)

Rafael Nadal has kicked-off his Australian Open campaign with a comprehensive straight sets win over Marcos Giron of America.

Playing in what is only his second tournament since August due to injury, he eased his way to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, win on the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal is the only former champion in this year’s draw following the deportation of Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Against Giron he didn’t drop his serve throughout the match as the Spaniard blasted 34 winners against 26 unforced errors. Nadal also won 84% of his first service points.

“There have been very challenging months. Not only the last six months which has been tough due to being out of competition,” Nadal said during his on-court interview.
“Everybody knows I have had an injury with my foot since the beginning of my career but I have been able to manage it well, morealess. But it is true that (after) being at home (during lockdown) when I came back (to the Tour) it has been very challenging.’
“I have been able to play at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 but honestly it has been very tough. There have been very tough moments with a lot of doubts and there are still doubts, but I am happy to be here at the Australian Open.”

Nadal was tested at times by the world No.66, who is still to clinch a main draw win at the Melbourne major, but they were not consistent enough to cause him any real trouble. He broke Giron five times in total and saved the only break point he faced.

Since making his debut back in 2004, Nadal has progressed to the second round of the tournament in 16 out of 17 attempts. The only time he failed to do so was in 2016 when he lost to Fernando Verdasco. Despite only winning the Australian Open once in 2009, Nadal has now recorded 70 wins in the tournament. In Grand Slam events, he has only won more matches at the French Open (105).

Awaiting the sixth seed in the next round will be either home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis, who won his first ATP title in Adelaide last week, or Yannick Hanfmann.

“He has been unlucky with a lot of injuries. I’m really happy to see him back at a high level and probably playing better than ever. That’s going to be a tough challenge for me but that’s why I’m here,” Nadal replied when asked about the possible prospect of playing Kokkinakis.

Nadal is now on a five-match winning streak after claiming his 89th career title at the Melbourne Summer Set and hasn’t dropped a set in any of those matches. A dream start to the season for the world No.5 who was also ill with COVID-19 last month.

“Last week was important for me. I think I am doing better and better,” he said. “You never know what is going on but If you told me a month ago I was going to be in this position I would have signed the paper without a doubt.”

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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