‘Going To Die For It’ - Rafael Nadal Vows To Give His All To Return Back To His Best  - UBITENNIS
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‘Going To Die For It’ – Rafael Nadal Vows To Give His All To Return Back To His Best 

The tennis giant says he needs to work harder after describing the past six months as ‘difficult’ for him in the sport. 

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Rafael Nadal admits he is unsure if he will return to his peak but is prepared to give it his very best shot. 

The world No.2 spoke frankly about his future in the sport after suffering his second consecutive defeat at the ATP Finals where he was beaten in straight sets by Felix Auger-Aliassime. The loss comes two days after he also lost in straight sets to Taylor Fritz. Nadal, who has never won the season-ending event in his career, will not progress out of the group stages regardless of how he performs in his final match. This year is his 11th appearance at the ATP Finals but overall he has qualified for the event 17 times.

After winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles during the first six months of the 2022 season, Nadal has struggled in recent weeks. He is currently on a four-match losing streak and the last time he recorded a win was back in September at the US Open. He has spent time away from the Tour following the birth of his first child. 

“I don’t think I forget how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally,” Nadal told reporters following his loss to Auger-Aliassime, who is coached by his uncle Toni. 
“I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be. And I don’t know if I am going to reach that level again. But what I don’t have any doubt about, that I’m going to die for it.”

The 36-year-old has won 38 out of 46 matches played so far this season, claiming a quartet of titles. Besides his triumphs at major events, he also won tournaments in Melbourne and Alcapulco. He has also achieved a winning 7-3 record against top-10 opposition with two of those losses occurring this week at the ATP Finals in Turin. 

“What can I do to give myself positive chances to have a good season next year? As always, be humble enough to accept that I have a challenge in front [of me], that the last six months have been very difficult for me, and I need to work more and I need to recover things that I lost because I was not able to practise the proper way, I was not able to compete the proper way.” He continued. 
“What I have to do now is come back, work hard, stay positive every single day, accept the challenge, accept that I am going to need to suffer a little bit more. If I will be ready to go through all this process, we are going to know in a couple of months if I have the determination going through that.”

Recently one of Nadal’s long-time rivals, Roger Federer, retired from the sport after spending more than two decades on the Tour. Federer is five years older than the Spaniard who admits he is finding it more challenging playing against the younger generation of players. 

“It’s difficult comparing and fighting against the young guys that they are super good, and at the same time they are able to play as many tournaments as they want, no? Is normal they are in the situation I was, like, 15 years ago.” Said Nadal who is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 40. 

Nadal’s last match of the season will take place on Thursday where he will lock horns with Casper Ruud. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two after this year’s French Open final where Nadal dropped just six games in three sets played. 

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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