Rafael Nadal Ousts Medvedev In Epic To Win 21st Grand Slam Title At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Ousts Medvedev In Epic To Win 21st Grand Slam Title At Australian Open

The 35-year-old Spaniard staged one of the most dramatic comebacks of his career to set a new record at Melbourne Park.



Image via twitter.com/australianopen

Rafael Nadal produced an audacious comeback to win his first Australian Open title in 13 years after outlasting Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller at Melbourne Park.

The world No.5 was trailing the final by two sets and was two games away from defeat before fighting back to prevail 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, after more than five hours of pulsating play. It is the first time he has won a match from two sets down since 2007. Nadal’s latest victory has made him the most successful male player in Grand Slam history with a total of 21 titles. He is also only the second player in the Open Era to have won each of the four major events at least twice after Novak Djokovic.

It’s just amazing. One-and-a-half months ago I didn’t know if I would be able to be back on the Tour playing tennis again,” said Nadal.
“Today I am in front of all of you with this trophy with me and you really don’t know how much I fought to be here (in Melbourne).’
“I can’t thank enough all of the support I have received.” He added.

Nadal’s rollercoaster win over Medvedev featured more twists and turns than the infamous Lombard Street in San Francisco. In total there were a staggering 44 break points with 31 of those being converted. Nadal produced a total of 69 winners against 68 unforced errors, as well as winning 67% of his first service points.

“Daniil you’re an amazing champion. I have been in this position (runner-up) a couple of times in this tournament. Having chances to have the trophy with me but I don’t have any doubt that you will have this trophy a couple of times in your career because you are amazing,” Nadal said to Medvedev.
“It has been one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career. To share the court with you is just an honour.”

Taking to the court both men had a shot of making history in the sport. Nadal was seeking to become the first male player to win a 21st Grand Slam title, which would have moved him past rivals Roger Federer and Djokovic. Meanwhile, Medvedev was aiming to become the first male player in the Open Era to win their second major title immediately after claiming their first.

With so much at stake, the final started with a fierce tussle between the two on what was a hot and humid evening in Melbourne Park. Best illustrated by Nadal who was sweating profusely after just three games played. Medvedev was relentless throughout the opener as he continuously applied pressure onto the Nadal serve as he claimed five games in a row. The Russian struck his first blow in the fifth game after a backhand error from his rival granted him his first break of the match to move ahead 3-2. Gaining in momentum Medvedev went on to seal a double break with relative ease due to a surge in unforced errors from Nadal who hit two double faults and a forehand unforced error during his third service game where he got broken to love. The world No.2 sealed the opener after just 42 minutes of play when a serve out wide was returned into the net by his rival.

Nadal, who had beaten Medvedev in three out of their four previous meetings, managed to regain his rhythm in the second frame. A gut-busting 40-shot rally concluded with a flawless slice winner which rewarded the Spaniard his first break points of the match. He went on to convert thanks to a mistake coming from across the court to move ahead 3-1. Triggering an eruption of cheers on the Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal then moved to four points away from leveling the match but failed to serve the second set out during what was a dramatic game which was briefly halted due to a security scare. A member of the crowd went on the court when the Spaniard was facing a break point before being detained. The individual was carrying a banner protesting against refugee detention in Australia.

The drama continued into the tiebreaker with both players demonstrating some electrifying tennis. Twice the Spaniard managed to get a mini-break before being pegged back by a resilient Medvedev who never looked intimidated by the pro-Nadal crowd. A carefully placed drop shot followed by a backhand volley moved him to set point which he converted with the help of a winning backhand passing shot.

The comeback

Playing in only his second tournament since returning from a foot injury and having the odds stacked firmly against him, Nadal refused to go down without a fight as he staged a blockbuster comeback which electrified the Melbourne crowd. The momentum change started at 4-4 in the third set after a blistering backhand winner granted him a break and the opportunity to serve out the match to revive his title hopes which he did with relative ease.

Continuing to weather the storm, Nadal attacked Medvedev’s serve throughout the fourth frame. It was becoming evident that the Russian was tiring and at times he struggled to push off from his leg to return shots. Nadal broke twice in a row as he took proceedings into a decider. Doing so with a love service game that concluded with the help of an unreturned serve from Medvedev.

Incredibly, it wasn’t until four hours and 40 minutes into the match when Nadal had an overall lead after hitting a forehand winner which painted the sidelines to break early on in the fifth set. Admirbally, Medvedev continued to fight on court but it was not enough to deny his opponent.

Nadal failed to serve the match out on his first attempt when leaving 5-4 before managing to work his way to another opportunity two games later. An ace, which was only his third in the match, earned him three championship points. He triumphed on the first of those with the help of a backhand volley at the net. Prompting the tennis giant to drop his racket out of delight.

“This has probably been one of the most emotional (tournaments) in my tennis career. Having the huge support during the past few weeks is going to stay in my heart for the rest of my life,” said the 21-time Grand Slam winner.
‘One-and-a-half months ago I was saying maybe this would be my last Australian Open but now this is plenty of energy to keep going.’
“I really can’t explain the feelings that I have right now but I’m going to keep trying my best and keep coming.”


Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident



Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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