Carlos Alcaraz’s Rise Will Motivate Nadal To Improve, Says Corretja - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz’s Rise Will Motivate Nadal To Improve, Says Corretja

The former player makes a bold prediction about the teenager’s chances at next month’s French Open.

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2021 05 05 MADRID - MUTUA MADRID OPEN DE TENIS 2021. Rafael Nadal of Spain vs Carlos Alcaraz of Spain

The unprecedented rise of Carlos Alcaraz in men’s tennis could also be ‘sensational’ for former world No.1 Rafael Nadal, according to Alex Corretja.

18-year-old Alcaraz shot to the limelight on Sunday when he became the youngest player in history to win the Miami Open and the third-youngest to ever win a Masters 1000 title. At the tournament he scored wins over Marin Cilic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Hubert Hurkacz and Casper Ruud. The triumph comes during what has been a stellar start to the season for the Spaniard who also became the youngest player in history to win an ATP 500 event in Rio. He has now recorded a total of seven wins over top 10 players.

Billed as a future world No.1 in the sport, the world No.11 is likely to take over one day from his idol Nadal as the leader in Spanish tennis. Although with Nadal currently having no intention of stepping away from the spot anytime soon, one former Grand Slam finalist believes his younger compatriot will drive him to work harder on the Tour.

Alex Corretja, who reached a ranking high of No.2 in 1999, believes the two players will motivate each other to improve their games further. Even though there is a 17-year gap between them.

I think it is just perfect, it is sensational for Rafa because he is the biggest champion that we have ever had,” Corretja told Eurosport.
“Now he has a new kid that he knows what is going on in his mind, and Rafa will need to go to the limit to pass him and to beat him.
“This is perfect for him because it will lead Rafa to still improve his game. He will find ways to beat Alcaraz because he played against him in Indian Wells and suffered so much. He knows that he needs to play at his best to beat him.
“He is much older, but he has got much more experience. He is the best ever, especially on clay, but facing Carlos will be a big challenge for him.”

Nadal first played Alcaraz on the Tour last year at the Madrid Open where he dropped just three games in their match. However, in their latest meeting at Indian Wells it was evident how much the teenager has improved in such a short period of time. Nadal prevailed once again but was given a stern test during his 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win. After their clash, the 21-time Grand Slam champion said his opponent was ‘already a top player’ and he treated the match as if he was ‘playing against one of the best players in the world.’

“I think it is very good for him because he is going to be motivated to practise and to improve things to see how he can hurt Alcaraz or the other opponents,” Corretja said of Nadal.
“Being Spanish and both being great guys, both being very humble; and at the same time, seeing that the attention is with Rafa, but now he is sharing it with Alcaraz, I think he is going to enjoy it so much.
“Because Rafa is not jealous of Alcaraz. He knows that Alcaraz is great, but he still has so long to go in his career, and of course, one day hopefully Alcaraz will be close to Rafa.
“But, for the moment, he is only starting. So let’s go step-by-step, but this is huge for tennis, for Spanish tennis and overall for tennis itself. It is the best news we can have.”

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The next test for the Spanish duo will be on the European clay which is a surface they both relish. Especially Nadal who has won more ATP clay-court titles than any other player in history. However, he has suffered a blip in recent times after being sidelined from the Tour for a few weeks due to a rib injury. Meanwhile, Alcaraz is set to return to training later this week ahead of Monte Carlo.

Only time will tell how good Alcaraz will be in the sport but Corretja has made a bold prediction by claiming he could be a threat at the upcoming French Open. He has only played in the main draw of a major five times in his career so far with his best run being to the quarter-finals of the US Open last year.

“He has got a real shot of winning Roland Garros, for sure. He is going to be among the top three-four players to win the tournament,” he states.
“We need to see how the clay-court season goes, but definitely, right now, nobody likes to play against him, for sure, because you know that you will suffer. You see a guy that is flying on the court, he hits the ball hard, he defends well, and of course, you see that he is going to fight until the end.
“He has proved that his emotions… he is controlling them very well. Even if it’s a tie-break in the third [set], in very close moments, he knows how to deal with that. He is acting like he has lots of experience, but he is still very young. So that shows that he is very smart, very clever. He is very professional.”

Since the Australian Open, Alcaraz has won 16 out of 17 matches played with his only loss being to Nadal in Indian Wells.

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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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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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

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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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