Roland Garros Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Casper Ruud for the Men’s Singles Championship - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Casper Ruud for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Rafael Nadal on Friday in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Rafael Nadal is playing in his 30th Major singles final, where he holds a record of 21-8.  Nadal has claimed his last four Slam finals, and seven of his last eight.  He is vying for a mind-boggling 14th title at this event, where he is 111-3 overall, and 13-0 in finals.  A victory on Sunday will place Rafa two Major titles ahead of both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with title No.22.

 

Casper Ruud is playing in his first Major singles final, and only his 12th tour-level final overall.  Ruud is 8-3 in those finals, and has taken seven of his last eight.  Prior to this fortnight, he had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event, where he was only 14-13 lifetime.  A victory on Sunday would make Casper the first person to ever defeat Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, a round in which Nadal has never even been pushed to five sets.


Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Casper Ruud (8) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

It’s the most prolific clay court champion of the last three years against the most prolific of all-time.  Over the last three seasons on this surface, no one has won more matches (66) or more titles (7) than Ruud.  But in the Open Era on clay, no one has won more titles (62) than Nadal, who is an amazing 473-45 on this surface, winning more than 91% of his matches.

Rafa has endured quite a challenging road to this final.  Casper is the fourth consecutive top 10 seed he will face.  After overcoming Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets, Nadal defeated his nemesis Novak Djokovic in the quarters.  And his semifinal lasted over three hours before the second set had even concluded, when Sascha Zverev unfortunately suffered a terrible foot injury, forcing him to retire.  Yet playing such a grueling match just 48 hours before this final, and in such humid conditions, surely sapped much of Rafa’s energy.

Ruud was also thoroughly tested on his way to this championship contest.  Only one of his six victories came in straight sets, and he defeated names like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Hubert Hurkacz, and Marin Cilic.  However, unlike Nadal, he did not face any top 10 players.  And as per Tennis Abstract, Casper is only 5-16 lifetime against top 10 opposition.  Ruud and Nadal spent almost an identical amount of time on court across their first six matches, separated by only six minutes.

Rafa and Casper have never played against each other.  As per the ATP, the last first-time meeting in a Major singles final was 14 years ago, when Djokovic faced Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open.  However, Nadal and Ruud have trained and practiced together many times at Rafa’s academy.

Of course, Nadal is the prohibitive favorite to prevail.  He is the greatest clay court player of all-time, and is making a case for perhaps being the greatest male player of all-time, period.  Even though Rafa is far from 100% after all the tennis he’s played these past two weeks on an injured foot, we’ve watched him will his way through pain for many years now.  Ruud will need to avoid falling behind early, and make Nadal doubt if he has the physical capability of winning an extended battle, in order to have any chance.  But performing at your very top level in the biggest match of your life, and against Rafael Nadal in a best-of-five match on clay, may feel like an impossible task. 


Also on Sunday, it’s Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (8) vs. Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic (WC) in the women’s doubles championship match.  This will be Gauff’s second final in as many days, coming off her 6-1, 6-3 loss to Iga Swiatek in the women’s singles final.  Gauff and Pegula won a doubles title together earlier this year in Qatar.  The French team of Garcia and Mladenovic won this title back in 2016.  But following a falling out, this is only their second tournament as a team in the past five years.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Roger Federer Claims Happiness Over Tennis Retirement In Emotional Last Match

It was an emotional evening in London as Roger Federer said goodbye to tennis.

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Roger Federer (@LaverCup - Twitter)

Roger Federer has said that his retirement from tennis was full of joy not sadness after an emotional occasion at the Laver Cup.

 

The career of one of the greatest tennis players of all time is over after 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer played his last match of his career at the O2 Arena in London.

Federer teamed up with Rafael Nadal to take on Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock with the American pairing claiming victory 4-6 7-6(2) 11-9 to level the tie for Team World at 2-2.

However celebration was limited as the whole venue celebrated, cried and soaked up the emotion that Roger Federer’s career was over.

There were tears from Federer, his family as well as rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the end of an era was upon Tennis.

Even a performance from Ellie Goulding saw the Arena’s emotion get stronger as the Swiss maestro said goodbye to a sport he has played since he was a kid.

However despite the tears Federer claimed after the match that it was a day of celebration not sadness as he closed a big chapter of his life, “It’s been a wonderful day. I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here. I’m happy I made it through,” Federer told the BBC website.

“It’s been the perfect journey. I’d do it all again. Everyone’s here, the boys and girls. My wife has been so supportive. She could have stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t.

“Being with the guys and having family and friends, I didn’t feel the stress so much even if I felt something would go during the match. I am so glad I made it through and the match was great. I couldn’t be happier.”

After 1,750 matches in his career, Federer now faces the prospect of leaving the sport he has know for over 20 years as a professional tennis player.

But Federer gave the biggest hint yet that he wants to continue to be apart of the sport for the future.

Speaking to the press Federer claimed that he wants to travel around the world to say thanks to those who didn’t have a chance on Friday evening, “Hopefully we’ll see each other again on a different type of tennis court, somewhere around the world,” Federer was quoted as saying by the BBC website.

“I think the message from me was just making sure I relay my passion for the sport to the fans. I have no plans whatsoever, where, how, when. All I know, I would love to go and play places I have never played before or go say thank you for years to come to all the people that have been so supportive of me.

“The hard part about the Laver Cup was that tickets were already sold out. The people who maybe would have also loved to be here couldn’t make it. Maybe there is another way down the stretch we can party all together.”

An incredible career was celebrated, rejoiced and soaked in by the whole of Tennis and now Federer gets to reflect on a once in a lifetime career.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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