Roland Garros Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Faces Toni Nadal’s New Pupil - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Faces Toni Nadal’s New Pupil

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Rafael Nadal keeps his eye on the ball (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Last April, the tennis world was stunned when Toni Nadal began working with Felix Auger-Aliassime.  A year later, it is still quite odd to see Uncle Toni sitting in a player’s box for anyone other than his nephew.  While Toni has stated he will not be in Felix’s box when he faces Rafael Nadal on Sunday, it will still be fascinating to watch his new player take on Rafa.

And we are perhaps just one round away from the highly-anticipated quarterfinal between Nadal and Novak Djokovic.  But first, Nadal must overcome Auger-Aliassime, and Djokovic has to beat Diego Schwartzman.  And for the second straight round, 19-year-old sensation Carlos Alcaraz gets the spotlight of the night session, as he plays Karen Khachanov.

Sunday is also filled with many enticing women’s singles matchups.  In a rematch of an emotional affair in Indian Wells, US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez takes on Roland Garros semifinalist Amanda Anisimova.  And US Open champ Sloane Stephens faces Jil Teichmann, who survived a nearly three-and-a-half hour battle against Victoria Azarenka on Friday.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Leylah Fernandez (17) vs. Amanda Anisimova (27) – 12:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Three months ago in Indian Wells, Anisimova was leading Fernandez 6-2, 5-4 when the match completely turned around.  Amanda failed to convert four set points, eventually losing the second set tiebreak 7-0.  A distraught Anisimova promptly retired without playing the third set, packing her bags and leaving the court in tears.  Amanda later explained she had been feeling sick for several days heading into that match.  The sudden exit of her new coach Darren Cahill just days prior, citing burnout and flying back to Australia, certainly couldn’t have helped her state of mind.  Yet the American has persevered and performed extremely well this clay court season.  She’s gone 13-3, and has reached the quarterfinals at every clay event she’s played.  By contrast, Leylah had a losing record this season on clay ahead of this tournament.  But as she often she does, the 19-year-old Canadian has fought her way to this stage, gritting out a tight match on Friday against Belinda Bencic 7-5 in the third.  Yet on this surface, Anisimova is the favorite to avenge what was a painful loss in tennis paradise.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Diego Schwartzman (15) – Second on Court Suzanne Lenglen

Five years ago in the third round of this event, Schwartzman thoroughly tested Djokovic, and was up two-sets-to-one.  But Novak prevailed in the end, as he has every time they’ve played.  Overall Djokovic leads their head-to-head 6-0, which includes three matches on clay.  These players have been two of the ATP’s best on clay for many years now, and a compelling contest with dynamic rallies is almost guaranteed.  But another thing which seems almost definite is another Novak victory on Sunday.  There’s just not much Diego has in his arsenal that can threaten the world No.1 and defending champion.


Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) – Third on Court Philippe Chatrier

Their only previous encounter also occurred on clay, when Nadal was victorious 6-3, 6-3 at the 2019 Madrid Masters.  And of course, the King of Clay is a huge favorite to defeat Auger-Aliassime again on Sunday.  Clay is not Felix’s strong suit, as he owned a losing record on this surface prior to this season, and was winless at this tournament until this past week.  Even if Uncle Tony dispenses some sage wisdom regarding how to combat Rafa’s game, it would be shocking if Felix can upset the 13-time champion.


Jil Teichmann (23) vs. Sloane Stephens – Fourth on Court Suzanne Lenglen

Stephens arrived in Paris on a five-match losing streak, but the 2018 runner-up is now just one win away from reaching her third French Open quarterfinal.  Teichmann is vying for her first quarterfinal at any Slam, as she was 3-10 lifetime at the Majors prior to this tournament.  However, the 24-year-old from Switzerland has enjoyed much success outside of the Slams this past year.  She was a surprise finalist last August in Cincinnati, and is now a stellar 11-3 on clay this season.  She reached the quarters in Rome, and the semis in Madrid.  Jil is currently at a career-high ranking of No.24, and would move into the top 20 with a victory on Sunday.  Stephens and Teichmann have never played before.  Sloane is the much more experienced player at big events, and should be the fresher player on the day, as Jil is coming off her third-set tiebreak victory over Azarenka.  But Teichmann is the player with so much more confidence this clay court season, and should be favored to make her Major breakthrough.


Carlos Alcaraz (6) vs. Karen Khachanov (21) – Not Before 8:45pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Alcaraz recovered nicely from a four-and-a-half hour, five-set battle in the second round, comfortably prevailing in straight sets on Friday over Sebastian Korda, who remains the only player to defeat Carlitos this year on clay.  The Spaniard is now 31-3 in 2022, and 19-1 on this surface.  Khachanov came into this tournament with little momentum.  Karen was 15-13 on the year, and just 4-5 on clay.  But the 26-year-old loves playing in Paris.  He’s now advanced to the fourth round or better in four of the last five years.  And his biggest career title also came in this city, at the indoor event in Bercy.  But in their first career encounter, Alcaraz is a significant favorite to achieve his second Major quarterfinal.  Carlitos is the far more in-form player, and he’ll be hyper-focused on avoiding another letdown after needing to save match point on Wednesday against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs. Martina Trevisan – Sasnovich has already defeated twoMajor champions (Kerber, Raducanu), though has never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Slam.  Trevisan is yet to drop a set, and was a quarterfinalist here two years ago.  This is their first career meeting.

Coco Gauff (18) vs. Elise Mertens (31) – Gauff is vying for her second consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal.  Mertens has advanced to the third round or better at this event for six straight years, but is yet to reach the quarterfinals.  Last June on the grass of Eastbourne, Coco defeated Elise 7-5 in the third. 

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Bernabe Zapata Miralles (Q) – After saving match point in the second round, Zverev prevailed in straights on Friday.  Zapata Miralles is a 25-year-old qualifier from Spain who only owned one main draw win at a Major prior to this fortnight.  This is another first-time matchup.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Simona Halep Provides Injury Update On Knee Ahead Of US Open

The return of Simona Halep looks a long way away from happening as a knee injury continues to bother the Romanian.

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Simona Halep has provided an update on her knee injury as she faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open.

The former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion’s comeback has not gone according to plan so far as she returned from a doping ban in Miami earlier this year.

However playing time has been limited for the Romanian as her second tournament of the year ended in a first round retirement at a Challenger event in Paris.

As a result of her retirement Halep was forced to miss Roland Garros and Wimbledon as she looked to recover from a knee injury.

The injury is more serious than meets the eye though as Halep provided an update on her knee injury and revealed it’s an injury that has been occurring for the last few months, “I wanted to provide a little health update since I have been away from the court lately. It is not the best news, but I wanted to share all the same,” Halep revealed on Instagram.

“For a few months now, I have been struggling with a knee injury. It’s an injury I have never had before and it has been a tough one to manage, with the pain persisting. It has been a very difficult period (almost two years) mentally and emotionally for me and struggling physically on top of that definitely doesn’t help.

“I have decided to take the time needed to recover properly, rather than training and playing through pain. My instinct has always been to try to come back as soon as possible, but I am not a machine, I am a human being and I need time to recover from everything I have gone through.

“I’ll keep you posted and, as always, want to thank you for your permanent support. I hope to be back on court very soon.”

Halep now faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open which starts on the 26th of August.

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Alexander Zverev Commits To Olympics, Speaks About Miscommunication Between Olympics And ATP

Alexander Zverev is preparing for his Olympic title defence.

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Alexander Zverev has spoken out on the miscommunication between the Olympics and the ATP tour with tennis’ top stars set to miss some big events on the tour.

The German is getting ready to defend his Olympic title that he won in Tokyo as Zverev heads to Paris.

After narrowly missing out on Roland Garros glory, Zverev now has an opportunity at redemption as he aims for a second consecutive gold medal at the Olympics.

However there is a dilemma for big players this year as the same week as the tennis event at the Olympics at the ATP 500 event in Washington.

This is an event that Zverev usually plays but will have to miss it due to playing in Paris.

Speaking out on the miscommunication, Zverev said it’s no secret that the ATP are not best friends on the Olympics but has committed to the historic event, “The ITF or the Olympics are not best friends with the ATP, that’s not a secret,” Zverev was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

Everybody continues their own tour. Yes, the Olympics is one of the, if not the, most important events we have in sports. So, the best players in the world are always going to play the Olympics over anything else, over points and over prize money.

All the top players went to Wimbledon a few years back, despite having no points on the line. It’s about prestige, it’s not about points or money. It’s about winning these kinds of titles and having medals for your country.

That’s what it’s about. I would never choose to play a 500 event over the Olympics. There are no thoughts on that, and I think Washington is going to be quite an interesting 500 event, I would say.

The ATP 500 event in Washington will be headlined by Grigor Dimitrov, Ben Shelton, Karen Khachanov and Frances Tiafoe as they are among those that have chosen ranking points over the Olympic experience.

As for Zverev he is continuing his Olympic preparations in Hamburg where he will face Pedro Martinez in the semi-finals.

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Rafael Nadal Reveals Delight At Setting Up Ajdukovic Semi-Final After Four Hour Victory

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the Bastad semi-finals after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the semi-finals in Bastad after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion prevailed in a marathon 6-7(2) 7-5 7-5 victory to reach his first semi-final since Wimbledon 2022.

The Spaniard converted ten of his 21 break point opportunities as he reached the semi-finals.

After the match Nadal revealed his delight at reaching the last four and prevailed Navone for his resilient display, “I lost for some moments my concentration, but I was able to hold physically until the end,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“That is so important for me. Let’s see how I am tomorrow, but today I am alive and in the semi-finals, so that’s very important. There were a lot of changing dynamics in every single set. For moments, he was in control. For moments, I was in control. But at the end, no one was in control! That’s true, and I had a good chance in the second with 3-0. Then I was very close to losing the match in the second set.

“In the third [I was ahead] again with 5-2, but he’s a great fighter and he played a great match. I wish him all the very best for the rest of the season.”

Nadal will now play Duje Ajdukovic in the semi-finals as he aims to continue his eight match winning streak in Bastad with this being his first appearance at the tournament since winning the title in 2005.

The other semi-final will be Nuno Borges against Thiago Agustin Tirante with both players reaching their maiden ATP tour semi-final.

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