Rafael Nadal Crushes Ruud To Become Oldest-Ever French Open Champion - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Rafael Nadal Crushes Ruud To Become Oldest-Ever French Open Champion

It is the seventh time in his career Nadal has triumphed in the Roland Garros final without dropping a set.

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros

Rafael Nadal has added to his historic title tally by defeating Casper Ruud to claim a 14th French Open trophy.

Nadal, who turned 36 two days ago, overcame an inexperienced Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0, to become the oldest man to ever win the tournament. Breaking a 50-year-old record which had been held by 1972 winner Andres Gimeno. En route to his latest major title the Spaniard defeated four top 10 players which has only ever been previously achieved by two other players at a Grand Slam since the ATP ranking system was introduced in 1973. He has now won a record 22 major titles in his career.

Amid speculation over how much longer he may continue playing for, Nadal illustrated why he is still the man to beat on clay with what was a clinical win over Ruud. A 23-year-old who was also making tennis history by becoming the first Norwegian man to contest a major final. In total he produced 36 winners against 18 unforced errors as he broke his rival eight times in what was their first Tour meeting.

“For me personally, it is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have. It’s something that I never believed; I would be here at 36, being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career one more time in a final,” Nadal said during the trophy ceremony.
“It means everytrhing to me. It means a lot of energy to try to keep going. I just want to say merci, merci beaucoup.”

Coming into his latest match, Nadal held a perfect 13-0 record when it came to playing in French Open finals. Taking on Ruud, the world No.5 started in blistering fashion by dictating rallies from the onset. Nadal broke his opponent in only the second game with a cross-court forehand winner. Prompting a huge roar from the crowd. The only blip he encountered in the opener was in the third game where two double faults and a forehand unforced error resulted in him dropping serve. Nevertheless, Nadal regained his focus and intensity in the match as he fought his way to a 5-3 lead. The first set was then sealed with a 178mph serve out wide which Ruud failed to return into the court.

After clinching the opener, Nadal found himself tangled in a roller-coaster second set which featured changes of momentum between him and Ruud. After failing to convert a trio of break points at the start, he soon found himself trailing 1-3 with his rival winning seven points in a row at one stage. But once again, he found a way to fight back as he gradually tamed a lackluster Ruud by winning four games in a row. He then went on to seal the two-set lead on his third set point opportunity at the expense of a double fault from across the court.

In a league of his own, Nadal stormed to yet another French Open title by ending the match with a bagel over Ruud. Something he had only ever done in a final at the tournament against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard dominated the third set by winning 24 out of 32 points played. On his second championship point victory was achieved with a perfect backhand winner that painted the line.

“It’s amazing the things that are happening this year. Without you it would not be possible. I would have retired long ago if it had not been for you.” The 14-time champion said during his personal tribute to his own team.

There is some consolation for Ruud who will rise to a career-high of sixth in the Pepperstone ATP rankings on Monday. Nine years ago the Scandinavian attended the French Open final as a spectator and watched his idol Nadal win. The two often hit together with Ruud training at Nadal’s academy in Mallorca with his team since 2018.

“The first and most important thing is to congratulate Rafa. It’s your 14th time, 22nd all around in Grand Slams. We all know what a champion you are,” said Ruud.
“Today I got to feel how it is to play against you in a final. It’s not easy and I’m not the first victim. I know there have been many before!”
“To you Rafa, your team, your family, you have taken me into your Academy with open arms, also my family. You are a true inspiration for me.”
He added.

Having also won the Australian Open prior to Paris, it is the first time in Nadal’s career he has triumphed at both Grand Slams within the same season. Throughout his career, he has recorded 112 wins at the French Open which is 27 more than any other male player in history.

ATP

Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

Continue Reading

ATP

Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

Published

on

Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

Continue Reading

ATP

Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

Published

on

Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending