Rafael Nadal Pauses His Career With The Hope Of Ending It On His Own Terms - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Pauses His Career With The Hope Of Ending It On His Own Terms

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Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

The world of tennis knew what was coming on Thursday afternoon when 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal held a press conference at his academy. 

Four months have passed since the Spaniard last played a competitive match due to a hip injury that originally had a prognosis of 6-8 weeks of recovery. However, the weeks turned into months and still, he is nowhere near to returning to the Tour. Resulting in his withdrawal from the French Open this year after 18 consecutive appearances. 

“It is not a decision that I make, but a decision that my body makes,” Nadal told reporters on Thursday. 
“I have no intention of continuing to play for the next few months. In recent years, although the results have been of my first level, my day-to-day life has been at a very low level. Although victories remain abroad At the level of daily work, the years after the pandemic have been very difficult.”
“They have been difficult years although the victories mask it. I make a point and part. At this point, without being prepared to be able to compete at the level I need. I have to put a point and aside to my sports career. I am going to try to regenerate my body. I’m not going to set a return date. When I’m ready, I’ll try to be there.

The most sobering thing about Nadal’s latest press conference wasn’t anything to do with the upcoming major tournament at Roland Garros. It was the first time he has spoken so candidly about ending his record-breaking career for good with 2024 likely to be when he does so. Another reminder that even the immortals of tennis have an expiration date. 

“I don’t like to predict the future so I’m going to follow my feelings and what I think I should do for my body and my own happiness,” Nadal explains. “Next year will probably be my last year on the pro tour. It’s the idea though I can’t say 100 per cent because you never know what can happen but my idea is to try to try and say goodbye to all the important tournaments for me in my career.”

Introduced to tennis by his uncle Toni as a child, Nadal blossomed and excelled at a young age. He was just 15 when he made his ATP debut at the 2002 Mallorca Open. The following year he cracked the top 100 for the first time before claiming his maiden Tour trophy at the 2004 Orange Prokom Open in Poland.  

The early success paved the way for Nadal to establish himself as statistically one of the most successful players in the history of the sport. His current ATP title tally of 92 is a benchmark that has only been surpassed by four other players in the Open Era. He has spent 910 consecutive weeks in the world’s top 10 which is a record and earned more than $134M in prize money. 

Undoubtedly it is the clay of Roland Garros where Nadal is known for his greatest achievement. Out of 115 matches played, he has only been beaten twice by Novak Djokovic in 2015 and 2021, as well as once by Robin Soderling in 2009. He has won the La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy an incredible 14 times. His dominance was recognised by officials in 2021 when a statue was built in his honour which is a rare achievement for an active player. 

“Without a doubt the tournament is going to keep being the best event in the world of clay,” Nadal commented on his beloved French Open. “And there’s going to be one Roland Garros champion, it’s not going to me, it’s going to be another one. And that’s life.
“The tournament is going to be for sure a big success without me. Players stay for a while and they leave, tournaments stay forever.”

Alongside the success, there have also been challenges for the 36-year-old who has contended with various injury setbacks. During his 20-year career, he has missed 11 Grand Slam events and withdrew from another five due to a physical issue. He has suffered from issues related to his back, wrist, abdominal, and hamstring. He also lives with a long-term foot condition called Mueller-Weiss syndrome. According to the sports newspaper Marca, since 2003 he has experienced some form of injury issue during 14 separate seasons. 

Yet like others such as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, such adversity only spurred Nadal on to work harder and improve his game further. However, it was never going to last forever, just ask Federer who played the Spaniard 40 times on the Tour. With the Swiss maestro, it was a knee injury that closed the curtain on his career and prevented him from ending it how he wanted to. Something Nadal hopes will not be the case for him.

“I would like to give myself the option of competing on a tennis court, feeling like a good-level player and fighting to win matches. I would like to fight to win the big tournaments. Whether that is a viable reality or not we will see.” Nadal replied when asked how he hopes to end his career. 

Now it is just a waiting game to see when Nadal will return to the Tour with his eyes set on a possible return to action later this year at the Davis Cup. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding him at present but one certain thing is that his career is coming to an end and so is an era of men’s tennis. 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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