Rafael Nadal Eases Into 225th Tour-Level Quarter-Final At Brisbane International - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Eases Into 225th Tour-Level Quarter-Final At Brisbane International

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Rafael Nadal is continuing to gain momentum in his return to professional tennis after booking his place in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International on Thursday. 

Nadal, who is playing in his first tournament in almost a year, powered his way to a 6-1, 6-2, win over Australian world No.102 Jason Kubler who took two medical timeouts for treatment on his forearm. The former world No.1 didn’t drop his serve throughout the match as he broke his opponent four times. Overall, he hit a total of 20 winners against eight unforced errors. 

“I think I started the match playing very well with a very good determination,” Nadal said during his on-court interview.
“I saw videos of Jason before the match and I saw him play pretty solid from the baseline. So I came on court and tried to be aggressive with my shots from the baseline and it worked very well.” He added. 

Nadal’s victory follows up on his first round win against Dominic Thiem which was also in straight sets. This week is the first time he is playing an ATP-level event since last year’s Australian Open where he lost in the second round. He has been sidelined by a hip injury in recent months which he underwent surgery on last summer. 

“Two victories after a long time of being out of the professional Tour is something that makes me feel good,” Nadal commented.
“I need matches, I need health, I need to keep practising well and of course, the last two matches help. Even the doubles too.
“For me, every day that I have a chance to play is great news. I’m happy that I came back after a long time and I feel myself competitively. That is all that I want and let’s see how far I can go.”

During his clash with Kubler, the 22-time Grand Slam winner did received a code violation after taking longer than the designated five-minute toilet break between sets. Something that he later disputed.

“I think that was something strange because I knew I had five minutes. Brisbane is very humid and I had to change every single piece (of clothing).” He said. 
“I came out at the right time but probably the guy who was with me told that umpire that I was four seconds late, I don’t know. I thought I was on time.’
“I’m slow I know but I’m going to keep trying to improve on that in 2024.”

Awaiting Nadal in the last eight will be another Australian in the shape of Jordan Thompson. Thompson received a walkover in his second round match after fourth seed Ugo Humbert withdrew from the tournament due to illness. 

Nadal has become only the third player in history to have scored at least 1070 wins on the ATP Tour after Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors. This week is the 225th time in his career that he has reached at least the quarter-final stage of an ATP event. 

Elsewhere, three-time champion Grigor Dimitrov became the first man to win a 20th match in Brisbane after storming to a 6-1, 6-2, win over Germany’s Daniel Altmaier. The second seed will next play Rinky Hijikata and could play Nadal in the semi-finals if both players reach that stage. 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Carlos Alcaraz for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship

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Carlos Alcaraz after winning his semifinal on Friday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 14 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in gentlemen’s singles and mixed doubles.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic was on a 34 match Wimbledon win streak, playing for his fifth consecutive title, and had not lost a match on Centre Court in a full decade.  But in a spectacular five-hour five-setter, Carlos Alcaraz upset the all-time great to win his first Wimbledon title.  On Sunday, we get the rematch, as Djokovic looks to avenge that painful loss, and Alcaraz looks to defend a Major title, and win back-to-back Majors, for the first time.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

They followed up last year’s championship match here with another fantastic final just a month later in Cincinnati, where Djokovic saved championship point to eventually win in a third-set tiebreak, and after nearly four hours of play.  Novak would go on three weeks later to win the US Open, while Carlitos was not the same player for some time.  Alcaraz would not reach another final at any event for over six months, until this past March in Indian Wells. 

Despite a few surprising losses, and an injury that disrupted his season, Alcaraz is now a strong 32-6 on the year, and a superb 17-1 at Majors.  Carlitos has been able to quickly rebound from upsets at smaller events, like his loss to Jack Draper a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club, and up his level for the big events.  He’s dropped five sets through six matches, most of which have contained some sloppy play at times, yet Carlitos has played his best when it mattered most to reach his fourth Major final.  And he’s 3-0 thus far in Major finals.

2024 has been a surprisingly subpar season in the illustrious career of Djokovic.  Not only has he not won a title to date, he hadn’t advanced to a final until now.  Playing a more limited schedule, he’s just 23-6 this season.  And it was just a month ago that he was forced to withdraw from the Roland Garros quarterfinals after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and put his Wimbledon status in doubt.  Yet Novak has recovered almost miraculously, dropping only two sets to this stage, though he did receive a quarterfinal walkover of his own from an injured Alex de Minaur.

Overall Djokovic is 3-2 against Alcaraz, and they’ve split two meetings at Majors, both of which took place a year ago.  In the 2023 Roland Garros semifinals, Carlitos started cramping after just two sets of play, and provided little resistance in sets three and four.  That made his five-set victory in this final a month later all the more surprising.

Novak has not appeared to be significantly hampered by his surgically-repaired knee, though there’s no way it can be 100%.  So if another five-setter takes place on Sunday, that has to favor Carlitos, especially since he is an amazing 12-1 when pushed to five sets in his young career.

But the Djokovic CV at this tournament, and at this stage of Majors, is beyond formidable.  Since the start of The Championships in 2014, he is 59-3 at SW19.  And during the same span at all Majors, he is 42-8 in semifinals and finals.  Novak just very rarely loses matches like this, especially on Centre Court.

On a that surface usually favors the aggressor, Djokovic has been able to change that narrative with his stifling defense and court coverage.  However, Alcaraz is one of the only players Djokovic has ever faced who can match him defensively, and at times dictate play against him with his risk-taking style.  We saw here a year ago just how frustrated Novak became by Carlitos’ game, damaging the net post by breaking his racket against it after getting broken in the fifth set.

Yet as many have mentioned these last two weeks, Djokovic “has that look about him,” meaning the steely determination and confidence that he was lacking during the first six months of this year appear to be back.  He is extremely motivated to reassert himself atop the game, in a season where the new generation of Alcaraz and Sinner won the first two Majors. 

If Carlitos gets off to another slow start on Sunday (he’s lost the first set in three of his six matches thus far), or suffer lapses in his level again, Novak will take advantage of that better than any of the defending champion’s previous opponents.  And while he’ll surely do so at some point in his career, until Alcaraz defends a Major title, or wins back-to-back Majors, it’s hard to favor him to do so.  I’m backing Djokovic to win his eighth Wimbledon title, and his historical 25th Major singles title, the most of all-time.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Santiago Gonzalez and Giuliana Olmos vs. Jan Zielinski Su-wei Hsieh (7) – The Mexican team of Gonzalez and Olmos are playing for their first Major title, as Olmos is 0-1 in Major finals, while 41-year-old Gonzalez is 0-4.  Zielinski and Su-wei won this year’s Australian Open as a team, the first Major title of Zielinski’s career, while Su-wei has now won eight between women’s doubles and mixed, and is 8-1 in Major finals.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Tales From Novotna Shaped Barbora Krejcikova’s View On Wimbledon

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Image via https://x.com/WTA_Espanol/

Newly crowned Wimbledon champion Barbora Krejcikova says she started to view the Grand Slam as the most prestigious event in tennis after working with the late Jana Novotna. 

Krejcikova, who defeated Jasmine Paolini to claim her second major title at The All England Club, was the last player to be coached by the former tennis star before she passed away at the age of 49. Novotna is former world No.2 who won 24 WTA titles during her career. However, she is best remembered for crying on the shoulder of the Duchess Of Kent after losing the 1993 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf before finally clinching the trophy five years later. 

“When I was 12, I wrote (in her notebook) that in the future I would like to win the French Open. So it was quite a big dream for me to win the French Open,” Krejcikova said during her press conference.

“To be honest, maybe things shifted a little bit when I met Jana and when she was telling me all the stories about Wimbledon, about the grass, how difficult it was for her to win the title and how emotional she was when she actually made it.

“I think since then I started to see Wimbledon as like the biggest tournament in the world.”

Krejcikova, who also won the 2021 French Open, credits her former mentor for helping her rise in the sport. It all began in 2014 when she turned up at Novotna’s apartment with a letter asking for help. She had just finished competing on the junior circuit and was looking for advice about what to do next. Novotna agreed to mentor her compatriot and they worked together until 2019. The year Novotna died of ovarian cancer. 

“I’m dreaming about her a lot,” the world No.25 said of her former coach.

Now their names are on the same board at SW19 that lists the women’s champions. Something that gives Krejcikova mixed emotions. 

“The only thing that was going through my head was that I miss Jana a lot. It was a very emotional moment to see me on a board right next to her.” She said.

“I think she would be proud. I think she would be really excited that I’m on the same board as she is because Wimbledon was super special for her.”

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(VIDEO) Steve Flink, Ubaldo On The Wimbledon Women’s Final: ‘The Better Player Won But Did Inexperience Play A Part?’

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins Ubitennis to analyse the Wimbledon women’s final after Barbora Krejcikova beat Jasmine Paolini in three sets.

The Czech held her nerve to clinch only her second win over a top 10 player this year and follow in the footsteps of her late mentor Jana Novotna. It is only the second Grand Slam title Krejcikova has won and her first since the 2021 French Open.

Meanwhile, Paolini can still draw positives from what is a stellar season for her. She is projected to rise to a ranking high of No.5 on Monday as a result of her latest run. However, did inexperience cost her in today’s final? 

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