Rafael Nadal Saves Four Match Points To Down Goffin In Dramatic Three Hour Contest - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Saves Four Match Points To Down Goffin In Dramatic Three Hour Contest

Rafael Nadal will meet Carlos Alcaraz or Cameron Norrie in the last eight after a blockbuster win in Madrid.

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Rafael Nadal (@MutuaMadridOpen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal edged past David Goffin 6-3 5-7 7-6(9) in a dramatic three hour contest to reach the quarter-finals in Madrid.

Nadal was cruising towards victory at 6-3 5-3 and even had two match points before Goffin came back to force a decider.

The Belgian produced some vintage tennis to push Nadal to his limits and even had four match points himself.

However the 21-time grand slam champion survived the three hour contest to set up a last eight meeting with Carlos Alcaraz or Cameron Norrie.

The start of the match saw Goffin construct some effective points as he hit the ball cleanly and tested Nadal’s ability from all areas of the baseline.

Nadal’s lack of match time certainly was exposed throughout the course of the match and despite some impressive returns, was lacking consistency.

Eventually Goffin’s persistency and defensive skills earned its rewards as he got the break for a 3-2 lead.

After that though it was all Nadal as he went through the gears and slowly showed why he is the king of clay, dominating through his heavy forehand.

As the unforced errors was produced from the Belgian, Nadal displayed confidence and took full advantage as he reeled off four games in a row and two breaks of serve to claim the opening set in 48 minutes.

Nadal capitalised on his momentum from the opening set as he reeled off the winners and caused problems to Goffin’s gameplan.

The Belgian was too conservative on serve and Nadal made him pay as he broke to love for a 2-1 lead.

Goffin couldn’t do anything to disrupt Nadal’s rhythm in the middle of the set as Nadal bullied the Belgian into errors and continued his dominance on serve.

However Nadal’s match rustiness came to haunt him as he couldn’t finish the match off on his two match points in the ninth and tenth games, which meant Goffin made him pay the price as he broke back for 5-5.

Goffin grabbed his moment and played more aggressive tennis, winning four games in a row as he levelled the match at one set all.

The Spanish crowd were enticed in this battle and so was Nadal as he looked for the immediate break in the decider but was denied by the plucky Belgian.

As the match went on Goffin continued to answer the questions posed of him in emphatic style as he continued to hit winners past a tentative Spaniard.

Nadal’s serve and forehand were defensive and this match turned into a battle of defensive attrition as no more break points were created as the deciding set went to a thrilling tiebreak.

The tiebreak was back and forth but it was Goffin who was presented with four opportunities to seal a massive win including a forehand down the line at 6-5.

But the pressure and nerves got to the Belgian and after three hours and 11 minutes, Nadal sealed a dramatic win in Madrid to reach the last eight.

After the match Nadal admitted to the ATP website that it was a tough match, “Honestly, it was a very tough match,” the 21-time grand slam champion said.

“I think I played at a very high level. But at the same time I am not completely happy because I have to finish the match in straight sets, without a doubt. A very important victory, saving match points. That’s confidence, that gives me the chance to keep going. I need matches and I need a day like to day to be fitter sooner.”

Nadal will now meet Carlos Alcaraz or Cameron Norrie in the quarter-finals. Nadal leads the head-to-head against Alcaraz 2-0 including beating him on his 18th birthday last year, while he leads the head-to-head against Norrie 4-0.

The match will take place at not before 3pm BST after Novak Djokovic’s clash with Hubert Hurkacz.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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