Rafael Nadal Aims To Conquer Fears Linked To Injury Comeback - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Aims To Conquer Fears Linked To Injury Comeback

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Credit: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Rafael Nadal admits he is struggling to play at his full intensity due to concerns it could spark another injury setback. 

The former world No.1 shed light on his current mentality in the sport following a marathon 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, win over Belgium’s Zizou Bergs at the Italian Open. Nadal lost a 3-1 lead in the opening set before fighting his way back to prevail and avoid back-to-back Tour-level defeats on clay for the first time in his career. 

It is the third week in a row that Nadal is playing after Madrid where he reached the fourth round before losing to Jiri Lehecka. Although the Spaniard was visibly frustrated with his latest performance. 

“Today was not a good match for me. I didn’t play the way that I really think I can play and I need to play.” He said.
“I was able to find a way to win and that gives me the chance to play in two days again, to show myself,  that I can do it much better than today.”

However, the task is easier said than done for Nadal who remains wary about how his body will hold up during matches. He missed most of last season due to a hip problem which required surgery. Then this year in Brisbane he sustained a muscle tear that put him out of action once again. Nadal has repeatedly said how much longer he continues his career depends on his health. 

“Arrive the moment today that I need to try to play at my 100 percent,” Nadal commented. “It’s not easy because I need to lose a little bit of fear that I have in some shots.
“In Brisbane, I got a tear in the place where I had the surgery last year. Sometimes important surgery like I had to remove an important part of my psoas tendon, put a lot on muscles around working more than before. It’s about having the right time to adapt all these muscles to this new configuration of the hip. But I don’t have that much time, no? That’s the problem and that’s the (truth).
“I really hoped that I would be able to have this progress (from) the beginning of the season til Monte Carlo (so) that I was able to start playing at my 100 percent in Monte Carlo. That was not the case because I had an abdominal thing. I did this progress the last three weeks on the tour. But arrive the moment that I need to try, I need to go for everything. If something happens, something happens. That’s the truth.”

The 37-year-old admits that overcoming this ‘fear’ is critical for his chances of playing his very best later this month at the French Open. An event he has won a record 14 times so far in his career. Whilst he is yet to confirm his decision to play in Paris, the signs are looking promising. 

“I have Roland Garros in just two weeks and a half, so… arrive at a moment that I need to prove myself if I am able to push my body to the limit that I need to push to feel myself ready for what’s coming,” he continued.
“I am not talking only about Roland Garros. I am talking about the next match. I need to lose this fear. Matches like today help. Some moments I was moving faster. Some moments not. I need to get used to that, to take that risk. It’s a moment to me that happens. If something wrong happens, we going to accept it. But that’s the moment to push. I feel more ready to try it than before.”

Next up for Nadal in Rome will be a showdown against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz. He will be aiming to beat a top-10 player for only the second time this year after Alex de Minaur in Madrid. 

“I need to accept that my level, it’s a little bit more on and off. It used to be that was very stable. I need to find this stability again.” he concluded. 

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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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