Rafael Nadal Marks 22nd Anniversary Of Tour Debut With Rollercoaster Win In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Marks 22nd Anniversary Of Tour Debut With Rollercoaster Win In Madrid

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Image via https://twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen/

Rafael Nadal overcame a big scare to seal his place in the last 16 of the Madrid Open in what could be the last ATP event he plays on home soil before retiring. 

The former world No.1 started off in convincing fashing before enduring a taxing battle during his 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3, win. Nadal’s lacklustre victory extends his remarkable record against players ranked outside the Top 50 on clay since the start of the 2005 season. The Spaniard has now won 162 out of 163 of those matches. 

Although it was a far from perfect performance from the five-time Madrid winner who hit 32 unforced errors compared to 36 winners and got broken four times. During certain stages of the match, he looked to be far from his best but managed to weather the storm with the help of his fierce fighting spirit. 

Some moments were good and some moments were not good. I found a way to get through,” Nadal told TennisTV afterwards.
“I think in the third set, even with some mistakes, I was able to be a little bit more unpredictable and that probably changed the match.”

Two days after claiming his first win over a top 20 player on the Tour in 18 months, Nadal looked sharp early on against world No.91 Cachin who came into the tournament on a 15-match losing streak. He worked his way through the opening set with relative ease by winning six out of the first seven games played without facing a single break point. 

However, in the second set things started to unravel for the 22-time Grand Slam winner as his Argentine opponent seized his chance by breaking twice en route to a 4-1 lead. Cachin then had a chance to serve the set out but crumbled at the worst possible moment. Losing two set point opportunities by hitting a forehand error on both of them.

The rollercoaster battle continued with more below-par shotmaking from both men. Nadal ended up getting broken before breaking Cachin to love in the following game to force a tiebreaker. It was in the tiebreak when the underdog finally managed to come out on top by hitting back-to-back forehand winners to force a decider. In doing so he became the first player to ever beat Nadal in a tiebreak in Madrid. 

Playing in front of a packed stadium, the noise of the crowd fluctuated throughout the encounter with some fearing Nadal might be on his way out of the tournament. However, this wasn’t to be the case as he battled towards the finish line after more than three hours of play.  Sealing victory on his first match point after a Cachin forehand error.

“Now I am enjoying (his tennis) but let’s see how I wake up in the morning. I don’t know.” Nadal replied when asked his much of his experience in Madrid is pleasure compared to pain. 
“Day by day I’m enjoying the fact that playing at home means everything to me. I just try my best to keep dreaming and tomorrow is another day to keep dreaming and playing in from of this amazing crowd. For me, that is everything.”

Nadal’s latest triumph at the Caja Magica coincides with the 22nd anniversary of his first Tour-level win at the 2002 Majorca Open when he beat Ramón Delgado at the tender age of 15. Overall, he has recorded 1,074 ATP wins which is the fourth-highest in the Open Era. 

Nadal will play 30th seed Jiri Lehecka in the next round.

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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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