Rafa's Birthday Party Ends In Victory, But Disappointment - UBITENNIS
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Rafa’s Birthday Party Ends In Victory, But Disappointment

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Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Twitter @USOpen)

Everyone seemed to be worried about Rafa Nadal’s left foot. And they all might have seen the worries about men’s tennis’ all-time Grand Slam singles title leader come true, if the French Open semifinal had played all the way out.

 

Of course, that didn’t happen. And Nadal should be in relatively good shape for Norway’s Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final, even though Ruud is 13 years younger.

Rafa’s 36th birthday party turned into something of a disappointment for almost everyone. Even Rafa was almost in tears.

LESS THAN TWO SETS IN THREE HOURS

It turns out that Rafa’s opponent, hard-hitting Alexander Zverev, decided the match when he stumbled on the last point that was played in the 12th game of the second set. Sascha, as his friends call him, rolled and lay crying out while holding his right ankle on the red clay of Roland Garros’ Court Philippe Chatrier

Zverev was taken from the court in a wheel chair. When he returned to the court to retire, he was on crutches with his bare right foot lifted.

They had played for more than three hours, but didn’t even finish two sets.

The final score was 7-6 (8), 6-6, retired.

AMAZING SHOT-MAKING BY BOTH PLAYERS

Both Nadal and Zverev made amazing shots throughout the match, but the second set wasn’t always pretty, even before Zverev’s tumble.

The match will be long remembered by the fans in a packed stadium and TV viewers. After that wonderful first set in which Nadal owned three set points, only to be forced into a tiebreaker,

Zverev even had four set points of his own in the tiebreaker when he grabbed a 6-2 lead, but Nadal finally closed out the 6-6 German on his sixth set point of the first set, 91 minutes into the match.

RAFA FOUND NEW LIFE

Nadal looked out of sorts in his first four service games of the second set. He was broken in all of them, a rarity for Rafa. 

The Spanish left-hander seemed to find new life to hold service in the 10th and 12th games. As Zverev’s mighty forehand down the line landed outside of the line to end the 12th game, Zverev was tripping up over his right foot and tumbled to the turf, ending his hopes of winning a first Grand Slam title.

Of course, Rafa goes on to his 14th French Open final. He has never lost a Roland Garros final.

Winning a 22nd Grand Slam title would give Nadal what might be an almost unbeatable lead in his race with 20-time Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Carlos Alcaraz: “It means a lot for me to be part of tennis history”

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Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2022. Alcaraz has become the first teenager and the youngest ever year-end number 1 player. He started the year at world number 32 and finished it as world number 1 after winning his first Grand Slam title against Casper Ruud in the final of the US Open, two Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid and two ATP 500 tournaments in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz: “It means a lot to me to receive the Number 1 Trophy, to be part of tennis history, along with a lot of legends. It’s an amazing feeling. All the hard work pays off”. 

Alcaraz becomes the youngest Grand Prix men’s champion since Rafael Nadal at 2005 Roland Garros and US Open men’s champion since Pete Sampras in 1990.  He is the youngest player to beat both Nadal and Djokovic and the first to achieve this feat at the same clay-court tournament, beating them on back-to-back days en route to winning his second Masters 1000 title in Madrid 2022. 

Alcaraz becomes the first player outside the Big Four of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to finish the year at number 1 since Andy Roddick in 2003. The Spanish player won the joint most ATP Tour titles along Novak Djokovic. 

It is the first time since 1996 that two players from the same country have finished number 1 and 2. US stars Pete Sampras and Michael Chang were the last players to achieve this feat. 

Alcaraz is one the three new players in the year-end top 10 along world number 6 Felix Auger Aliassime and and Taylor Fritz. Alcaraz and Rune are the first pair of teenagers to finish in the top 15 since 1990. 

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown returns in 2023

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown plans to return in 2023. The tennis league was founded by coach Patrick Mouratoglou in 2020 when the ATP and the WTA Tours were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The UTS announced that it will hold exhibition matches in July, September, November and December in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

The league introduces a series of innovative rules, including four 8-minute quarters, no second serves, relaxed code of conduct, sudden death tie-breaks, bonus cards and mid-match interviews with players, player nicknames. The goal is to attract a larger and younger tennis fanbase. 

The first edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown was held without spectators in Southern France in June 2020 to give players the chance to play matches when the ATP and WTA tournaments were not held during the covid-19 pandemic. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Felix Auger Aliassime, Danil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem highlighted the inaugural edition. 

Patrick Mouratoglou: “I cannot give too much away, but the roster will be impressive. Our first approach with Ultimate Tennis Showdown was to validate the proof of concept. Then in 2022 we raised capital to run the events in front of a real crowd”.

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Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jack Draper are nominated in three categories for the 2022 ATP Awards

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The ATP has announced the Awards Nominees for the 2022 season for five categories: Comeback Player of the Year, the Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanships Award and Coach of the Year. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz and his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero have received a total of three nominations. Alcaraz has been nominated for the Most Improved Player of the Year alongside Maxime Cressy, Jack Draper and Holger Rune. This award will be given to the player who reached a significantly higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and who showed an improved level of performance through the year. 

Alcaraz is the youngest and first teenage player in ATP Rankings history since 1973, rising to top spot at the age of 19 after his US Open title after ending the 2021 season at world number 32. He beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open final, becoming the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open, and the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990. 

Former world number 1 junior player Holger Rune broke into top 100 in January 2022 and ended the season in the top 10 after winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. 

French-born American born Maxime Cressy broke into Top 100 in January 2022 and achieved a career-high of world number 31 in August 2022. 

Jack Draper and Holger Rune have been nominated in both the Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year categories.

Draper started the 2022 season outside the top 200 and broke into the top 50 reaching world number 45 last October. During the 2022 season Draper reached his first ATP Tour semifinal in Eastbourne as wild card. He earned the biggest win of his career over world number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to reaching the quarter final at the Montreal Masters 1000 as qualifier and beat Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the US Open third round. 

Alcaraz has also been nominated for the Stefan Sportsmanship Award for the first year alongside Felix Auger Aliassime, Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe. The player, who conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are are Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Wu Yibing. The player who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

Coric beat world number 3 Rafael Nadal as world number 152 en route to his title in Cincinnati, becoming the lowest-ranked champion in Masters 1000 series history. 

Thiem fell out of top 300 last June after losing to Hugo Dellien at Roland Garros, but he returned to good form last autumn when he reached the semifinals at the 2022 European Open after beating Hubert Hurkacz. The Austrian player beat Tommy Paul in a tight three-set match with two tie-breaks after saving two match points. 

Wawrinka returned to his best form last October, when he beat world number 3 Casper Ruud and Brandon Nakashima at the Swiss Open in Basel, climbing 15 positions up to the top 150 in the ATP Ranking. 

Wu Yibing did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries, rising from 1869 in March 2022 to career-high number 173 in August 2022 after winning titles at Orange Park, Orlando Challenger, Rome, USA Challenger and Indianapolis Challenger. 

The candidates for the the Newcomer of the Year are Holger Rune, Jack Draper, Jiri Lehecka, Ben Shelton, Chun-Hsin Tseng. The Newcomer of the Year is the Next Gen player who broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2022. 

Lehecka broke into the top 100 in February 2022 before reaching his career-high of world number 59 in August 2022 and qualified for the Intesa San Paolo Next Gen Finals. The Czech player world number 12 Denis Shapovalov for his first ATP Tour Main Draw win en route to reaching the semifinal at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam as a qualifier. 

Shelton achieved his career-high of world number 165 at the age of 19 last August, becoming the third highest-ranked teenager behind Alcaraz and Rune. He beat world number 5 Casper Ruud to reach the third round in Cincinnati in his Masters 1000 debut, becoming the youngest US player to beat a top 5 opponent since Andy Roddick at Montreal in 2001. 

Chun-Hsin Tseng broke into top 100 last June and reached a career-high of world number 83 last August. He qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

The nominees for the Coach of the Year Award are Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz), Frederic Fontang (Felix Auger Aliassime), Goran Ivanisevic (Novak Djokovic), Michael Russell (Taylor Fritz) and Christian Ruud (Casper Ruud). 

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