Rafael Nadal Speaks Out On Djokovic’s Grand Slam Record, Future In Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Speaks Out On Djokovic’s Grand Slam Record, Future In Tennis



Rafael Nadal - Parigi-Bercy 2022 (Twitter @RolexPMasters)

Rafael Nadal believes nemesis Novak Djokovic would have been ‘frustrated’ if he had not broken his record for most Grand Slam titles won by a male player. 


During an interview with Movistar that aired on Monday, the former world No.1 says the Serbian is more ‘intense’ than him when it comes to life. Nadal has won 22 major titles during his career, which include 14 French Open titles. In comparison, Djokovic currently has 24 trophies to his name after winning three out of the four major events this season. 

“I’m not frustrated for a simple reason,” Nadal told Movistar“I believe that, within my means, I have done everything possible to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for me.
“Novak could be frustrated because he lives everything more intensely and that’s why he’s the best.”

The comment has split opinion among tennis fans on social media with some accusing the king of clay of being disrespectful towards Djokovic. However, others have defended his comments and said there was no malice meant by what he said. 

Elaborating further, Nadal said Djokovic has managed to be more successful than him at the big events because he has been able to stay healthier than him which has enabled him to pay more. Since winning the 2005 Wimbledon championships, Nadal has missed 11 Grand Slam tournaments for various reasons. Meanwhile, Djokovic has missed three during this same period. There is a one-year age gap between both players. 

“I have been one of the most inactive players on the circuit for many years,” he said. “I’ve missed four and a half years of Grand Slams. That’s what the sport is all about. Djokovic is also more successful because he has had a level of fitness/physique that has allowed him to play more than me.”

Nadal hasn’t played on the Tour since the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury that has sidelined him from action for months. Then in May during a press conference, he announced an extended break from the sport to recover his body and admitted 2024 could be his final year as a professional tennis player. 

The 37-year-old remains coy about his future in the sport but admits adding to his Grand Slam toll is not his priority.  

“I would like to play again, to be competitive,” he said. “But I’m not expecting to come back and win Roland Garros or Australia, so that people are not disoriented.
“I am fully aware that at the time when I am in my life, it is a distant idea. I don’t say ‘impossible.’ I’ve said it a thousand times, things change very quickly in sport.”

It is a strong possibility that Nadal will call it quits in 2024 with the Spaniard describing the prospect of ending his career at the Paris Olympics as ‘nice.’ The tournament will be held on clay at Roland Garros. 

“Yes, it is going to be my last year 100%. I have it planned like this. I don’t believe in magic but if suddenly the body recovers after the long layoff I’ve had and I feel strong and energetic to continue – I’m saying one thing but then may do another.” He concluded. 

Nadal has won 92 ATP titles so far in his career. 

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‘The Full Package’ – Maria Sharapova Hails The Rise Of Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova believes US Open champion Coco Gauff can transcend the world of tennis and beyond. 


Earlier this month, the 19-year-old American claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows by beating world No.1 Aryna Sabalenka in the final. In doing so, she has become the youngest player from her country to win a major title since Serena Williams in 1999. Gauff has also enjoyed success elsewhere over the summer by winning titles in Washington and Cincinnati. 

The breakthrough has been hailed by Sharapova who was 17 when she won the 2004 Wimbledon Championships. Speaking to Andrea Petkovic on The Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast, she predicts a big future for the rising star of women’s tennis. 

“I have been saying for years that I think she has the ability to transcend the sport into so many [areas], bridging entertainment, sport and culture, and fashion,” said Sharapova.
“She has such a great voice and is an amazing competitor, which is just like the full package. And it came together for her in New York City.”

Despite her young age, Gauff has already been on the Tour for a few years. At the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, she produced a stunning run to the fourth round after coming through the qualifying tournament at the age of 15. Soon after that, many were tipping her to become a formidable force in the sport with there being a lot of expectations placed on her.

Whilst it has been four years between Gauff’s Wimbledon breakthrough and her winning the US Open, Sharapova believes that there are plenty of positives that can be drawn from her experience.

“I think her journey has been interesting. From the age of 16 she has been the prospect and the target and everyone believed that she would get there,” she commented. 
“It’s perhaps taken a little bit longer but I think for her that may be helpful because it took a few years to figure it out, as opposed to coming out on top at the very beginning and then being so surprised by everything that comes her way.”

Gauff is coached by Pere Riba and also has Brad Gilbert as a consultant. Gilbert has previously worked with the likes of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Both men have been credited for aiding her recent success on the Tour. 

“She has a great team and the genuine support from her parents is very evident,” Sharapova commented. 
“It’s a beautiful story. Does that mean she is going to go out and win every Grand Slam? This is sport, that never happens, you end up losing a few more than you win. But those wins are very special and I am sure she will handle the ups and downs brilliantly.”

Gauff is set to return to competitive tennis next week at the China Open. 

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Novak Djokovic Upbeat About The Future Of Men’s Tennis As He Praises Alcaraz



Novak Djokovic believes the future of tennis is ‘looking good’ with the emergence of Carlos Alcaraz leading the way. 


The 24-time Grand Slam champion has hailed his Spanish opponent who he has played three times this season, winning two of those meetings at the French Open and in Cincinnati. Alcaraz’s only victory was in the Wimbledon final where the 20-year-old claimed his second Grand Slam title. Alcaraz also won their first meeting in Madrid last year. 

It isn’t just on the court where the two are battling. They are currently in a race to end 2023 as the year-end No.1 player. Djokovic reclaimed the top spot following his run at the US Open earlier this month but his rival could close the gap on him at the China Open. An ATP 500 event that the Serbian is not playing at after deciding to take a short break.

“I think tennis, definitely the future is looking good with Carlos leading that field,” Reuters quoted Djokovic as telling Sky Sport.
“We’ve had some thrilling encounters… This year with the final at Wimbledon and also Roland Garros and Cincinnati – that was one of the best three-set matches I’ve ever played.
“It’s great for our sport there are more rivalries happening but rivalries with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal particularly and also with Andy Murray are right up there for me.”

This week Djokovic has swapped the tennis racket for a golf club to take part in a celebraity all-star Ryder Cup match in Rome. He paired up with golfer Kirk Popert to beat F1 driver Carlos Sainz and his partner Tommaso Perrino 3-1. Both Popert and Perrino play on the golf for disabled Tour (G4D). Djokovic was part of Team Monty who won the tie 7-4 over Team Pavin. 

The 36-year-old is set to return to the tennis court next week at the Shanghai Masters which is taking place for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has won the tournament a record four times and could once again resume his rivalry with Alcaraz. 

“Hopefully I’ll play him as many times as I played the other guys and that will mean I’ll be playing for years to come. But I doubt that, let’s see how it goes,” he commented.
“I’ve had a fantastic year. Grand Slams are the ones that count the most for me at this point of my career, they’re the ones where I want to play my best tennis.
“This year, (winning) three out of four Slams and another final, I couldn’t ask for more.”

Djokovic, who has already qualified for the ATP Finals in Turin, has won five Tour titles and earned more than $10.5M in prize money so far this year.

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Fit-Again Holger Rune Targets ATP Finals Qualification



Holger Rune says he is raring to go after taking a short break from the sport to address an injury issue that has been hampering him. 


The world No.4 said he didn’t want to play any more tournaments until he found a solution to a back issue that has been troubling him. Rune previously told Danish TV that he had a pinched nerve in the fifth lumbar vertebra in his spine since the clay-court season. As a result, he has had to make adjustments to his service motion to overcome this problem. 

“I was struggling with a back injury for a while. I got it fixed. I played a lot of tournaments with a lot of pain in my back,” Rune told reporters on Wednesday.
“I got to stop and fix it, not come back to playing tournaments until I’m one hundred percent. I’m ready to go and get excited for what’s to come.”

After a disappointing North American hard court swing, Rune is seeking to claim his first Tour win since Wimbledon. The lack of success is a stark contrast to the first half of this season where he reached two Masters 1000 finals and won his fourth ATP title at the Bavarian Open in Germany. 

Rune’s focus is now on this week’s China Open in Beijing where he is the third seed behind Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev. It is a crucial time of the year for the Dane who is hoping to claim one of the eight qualifying spots for the Tour Finals in November. Currently, he is sitting in the eighth and final position in the Live Race.

“Definitely one of the goals is to be able to get into Turin, the Finals, at the end of the year,” said Rune.
“There are still many tournaments with a lot of points included to end the season.”
“There are 500 points here (Beijing), 1,000 points next week……there are plenty of points, so I’m going to try to focus on what I do instead of what everybody else is doing.”

Eager to make up for his recent lull in results, Rune faces a tough draw in Beijing where he will open up against Felix Auger-Aliassime. A former top 10 player who has struggled with injury and hasn’t won back-to-back matches since Indian Wells in March. Later in the tournament, he could play Grigor Dimitrov and Jannik Sinner. Then he is projected to face Alcaraz in the semi-finals. 

“It’s going to be a great match, I think. He is a tough player. He’s been doing really well,” Rune previewed of his clash with Auger-Aliassime.  
“I’m going to have to put him under a lot of pressure because when he gets the time to play, he’s very dangerous.”

Rune’s win-loss record for 2023 so far currently stands at 37-16. 

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