Rafael Nadal Unlikely for Wimbledon, Focus Instead Turns to Olympic Games - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Unlikely for Wimbledon, Focus Instead Turns to Olympic Games

Nadal content despite Roland Garros defeat: – “If it’s the last time that I played here, I am in peace with myself.”

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Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2024 (foto X @rolandgarros)

Immediately after losing 3-6, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6 to fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the opening round of the French Open, Rafael Nadal admitted the transition from clay to grass and then back to clay in time for the Olympics would be too much for him – and he is therefore likely to skip Wimbledon. 

The clay court superstar, who has overcome a host of injuries throughout his career and had to battle more abdominal and hip problems in 2024 alone, compared his body to a jungle and was unable to confirm his future plans – although it seems almost certain he will miss the grass court Slam in SW19 and instead focus on his favoured surface for the Olympics which begin in just two months. 

“For me now it looks difficult to make a transition to grass, having the Olympics again on clay. My body has been a jungle for two years. You don’t know what to expect. You know, I wake up one day and I found a snake biting me. Another day a tiger! You know, I have been fighting hard with all the things that I went through. My main goal now is to play the Olympics. That’s going to be here. So I need to prepare myself the proper way to try to arrive here healthy, and well-prepared, and then let’s see.”

Nadal, who came into the tournament ranked 275 and was unseeded for the first time in his Roland Garros career, knew the perils of immediately facing a tougher match-fit opponent: “When you are not seeded, you play against a player who is in great shape and is one of the best players of the world. I had a tough battle out there. And I was ready for a little bit more.” 

Nadal had his chances during the match, particularly when serving for the second set and once again when a break up in the third. But he agreed that his overall lack of match-play was not ideal to face an inspired opponent. “When you are not playing tournaments in a row, when you are not playing these kinds of matches since almost two years, it’s normal that your level is not high, because in the end you need to practice this, and the only way to practice this is competing.”

Despite defeat in his favourite tournament, Nadal still found reasons to be positive and felt it was a good week overall: “Without a doubt I felt much better than before. I didn’t feel that limitations. Today in the match the same. I felt I was able to move myself much better than in the previous tournaments. I played at a good level in all ways, comparing to the way that I was playing the weeks before. So : happy for that. Of course, disappointed for losing, but in terms of body feelings, happy that I finish healthy.” 

Although Nadal lost in the first round of Roland Garros for the first time in his career, he has accumulated mind-boggling statistics in the French capital over the years. Overall, he has an astonishing 112-4 win-loss match record, a 335-37 set record including dishing out 24 bagels (6-0 sets), and has also set three separate 30+ win streaks: 31 (2005-09), 33 (2017-21), and 39 (2010-15).

The 37 year-old, who was watched on by tennis stars including Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz, was happy to accept that he has been a source of inspiration for many players across the globe over the last two decades with his stunning record of 14 titles on the red dirt alone – the same as legend Pete Sampras managed across his whole career on all surfaces. The Spaniard is second on the all-time list with 22 Slams, just behind his great Serbian rival who has two more, and is two clear of retired Swiss maestro Roger Federer with whom he shared many fierce battles.  

Nadal was clear when asked what was keeping him competing at this level in spite of his injury difficulties and the driving force behind his motivation to keep going: “I’m a simple guy. I enjoy what I do. You know, I am passionate about sport, I am I am passionate about competition. I like to practice, I like to play tennis. I’m in a different moment of my personal life too, traveling with my son, wife, you know. I am enjoying these moments that will not come back.”

Nadal, who has always been very philosophical throughout his illustrious career managed his emotions admirably in his on-court speech, later admitted to accepting the moment: “If it’s the last time that I played here, I am in peace with myself.”

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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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