Rafael Nadal loses to Gasquet at Kooyong, optimistic about Australian Open

World No.1 Rafael Nadal made a shaky start at the Kooyong Classic facing defeat at the hands of Richard Gasquet with a 6-4, 7-5 score. However, despite losing his first match of the year, Nadal expressed pleasure on facing no issues with his knee.
Nadal’s recurring knee pains forced him to withdraw from Brisbane International and proved to be an obstruction to the ending of his season in 2017. Rafa is also expected to play a match for a Tie Break Tens tournament in Melbourne Park on the 10th of January.
His opponent, on the other hand, had been forced out of Kooyong because of physical ailments but was obviously happy to have beaten the Spaniard even if informally. Nadal historically has beaten the Frenchman 15 times to none on the ATP tour.
The first set saw a rusty Nadal with Gasquet who relied on a solo break at 5-4 and took it. The second set started with Gasquet leading 3-0. The Spaniard came back with full force and equalled the score at 3-3. But Gasquet eventually won with a smash winner.
In the women’s game, German Andrea Petkovic beat Aussie Destenee Aiava 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 despite the strong winds.
Sources – The Guardian, New Indian Express

Sweet 16 for Rafael Nadal at US Open

Rafael Nadal was never supposed to succeed at the Flushing Meadows, he was born for clay and he had conquered the red dirt ruthlessly. But there he was, the Spanish Bull, marching his way and clinically removing his opponents to win the third US Open title, his 16th Major (just three behind Roger Federer).

In Rafa’s way he’s “very happy, no?” A year which turned out to be one of the best seasons for him. Biter of two Grand Slams and appearance in three finals, Rafa Nadal couldn’t have asked for a better season after two years of intermittent injuries. But this is Nadal we are talking about, he finds a way, he always has. His passion for the game prevails, his hunger for slams prevails and his motivation to play with confidence prevails.

The 2017 US Open promised another Fedal epic, as both Rafa and Roger were placed in the same draw and were set up to meet in the semi-final. But then came along Juan Martin del Potro (2009 winner) who aggressively defeated Federer and crushed the hopes of first ever Fedal match up in the US Open. When Nadal met del Potro in the semifinal, it took four sets including a bagel for Rafa to eliminate the Argentine. In the final, though not a thrilling one, Nadal comfortably defeated 28 seeded Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.  Such was his dominance that only in the last game did Rafa reach deuce on his serve.

The year has been extra emotional for the Spaniard. Rafa thanked his uncle Toni, who was watching his last slam with him as coach. “Without him I would never be playing tennis. It is great I had someone like him pushing me all the time. He had great motivation to practise with me since I was a kid. He is for sure one of the most important people in my life.” Uncle Toni, as all the fans love to call him, has been with Rafa since the age of three. He has been the maestro behind Nadal’s psyche, character and all in all the Rafa we see today.

2017 season was the year of Fedal resurgence. The last slam had provided a golden opportunity for the new kids like Alexander Zverev, Denis Shapovalov, Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric but all failed to cover the distance. This also makes us question us how the future of tennis will look like when the two legends finally bid goodbye to the game. But for now, the two are happy, neatly splitting the four majors among themselves.

Rafael Nadal beats Kevin Anderson in straight sets to win US Open 2017

World no 1 Rafael Nadal beat World no 28 Kevin Anderson 6-3 , 6-3 , 6-4 to clinch his 3rd Us open title at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York. This is the 16th grand slam title of his career.

The Spaniard put up a clinical performance as he kept his South African counterpart under tremendous pressure and did not allow him to achieve a single break point.
The title means that he is only three behind longtime rival Roger Federer, who has 19 major titles to his name on the all time men’s grand slam singles list. He also trails only Federer in terms of career appearances in slam finals.
Nadal thanked his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, who will be stepping aside and shifting his attention towards Nadal’s tennis academy in Spain. Nadal credited Toni saying that ”Probably without him , I will never be playing tennis.” The King of Clay added that Toni is one of the most important people in his life.
”It’s just unbelievable what happened this year, no ?” said a delighted Nadal after winning the Us Open title

Del Potro disrupts Fedal semifinal at the US Open

The moment US Open men’s draw was put up, tennis fans had their eyes and minds on just one match. A potential first Fedal match up in the US Open. Both were placed in the same half of the draw and could have met in the semi-final.

Then came along 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who played the match of the tournament in the fourth round against Dominic Thiem to face Roger Federer in the quarterfinal. Nadal had already played his part by defeating 19-year-old Rublev in his quarterfinal match.

Federer was looking forward to take revenge of 2009 final lost against del Potro but boy oh boy, what took place in Arthur Ashe Stadium, saw a complete dismantle of Federer. The quarterfinal score read 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4.

Well aware that he was the only one stopping from a Fedal match up, the Argentine gave his all. This is the second time del Potro has stood in the way of a Fedal matchup at the US Open. He also did it in 2009 when he beat Nadal in a semi-final and went on to win the Championship against Federer in a five-set final.

“I played my best match of the tournament,” del Potro said in an on-court interview. “I did everything well. I served so good and hit my forehand as hard as I can.”

News Sources- US Open, The New York Times

 

He bel19ved, He conquered

A year ago, Roger Federer would never have imagined to win another Wimbledon, a Grand Slam which made him one of the greatest in the history of tennis. With already 7 titles under his belt, Roger Federer came to Wimbledon 2017 with confidence and a well-rested body. He voluntarily skipped clay season to relax his body after winning his 18th Grand Slam at Australia. Sensing early the terrific form of Nadal and his own chances on clay, Federer withdrew himself from Roland Garros; the decision that proved to be wise when on Sunday evening as he went on to win his record eighth Wimbledon, making him the first man to do so. With 19 Grand Slams, he now leads the men’s tennis with the most number slams, followed by Nadal with 15.
The final score line read 6-3,6-1,6-4 against Croatia’s Marin Cilic. Was it a milestone for both the players? Yes. Was it a memorable and a fitting Grand Slam final? Absolutely not. Cilic was brought down to his knees by a majestic Federer. There were tears on either side of the Centre Court—one of victory and the other of agony. Cilic’s suffering reached its acme when he broke down during the medical break, and then it was just a matter of time. But it wasn’t just Cilic’s breakdown but, it was the exits of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka which helped Federer conquer London without dropping a set.
Federer was as buoyant as he was in 2003 when he won his first Wimbledon title beating Australian Mark Philipoussis. Federer in the post-match ceremony acknowledged that it was tough losing to Novak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015 but kept believing in himself. He said, “I kept on believing and dreaming and its fantastic. It is such a special court, so many legends marked this court. I hope it’s not my last match and hope I can come back next year and defend my title.”
Based on Sunday’s evening performance it is hard to believe that Federer had been without a Grand Slam for five years between 2013 and 2017. With US Open to go and dwindling form of Djokovic and Murray, the race to the top looks locked only between the emperors of clay and grass; Nadal and Federer. It truly looks like a #ThrowbackThrursday memory in tennis.

Muller trumps Rafa in Wimbledon fourth round

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, lost to 26th ranked Gilles Muller in the fourth round of Wimbledon, in a match that lasted for over four and a half hours.
The Spaniard fought back from being two sets down before Muller took a fifth match point to win 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13 in the longest Wimbledon clash. Nadal led the head-to-head series 5–1 against his opponent with Muller’s only win coming in the second round at Wimbledon way back in 2005.
As reported by BBC, Muller, who will play his first Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2008 US Open, exclaimed, “That was a very tough game. In the last two match points I just gave it a hundred percent.” The Luxembourg ace was pushed to his limits by Nadal in the last set, which alone lasted for about two hours.
Rafa, the 15-time major champion who has been in fine form this year, was in contention of replacing Andy Murray as the top-ranked player in the world, had he managed to reach the final.
On the other hand, veteran Muller is enjoying a rebirth of sorts in the later half of his career, finding some of his best form in a 16-year long professional stint. This year alone he has been the player who has won the most number of grass court matches, with Nadal being his eleventh.
The southpaw’s confidence will be sky high before facing Croatian Marin Cillic in the quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Sources: BBC, The Hindu

Nadal cruises past Denis Istomin to reach 2nd round in US Open

Fourth seeded Rafael Nadal raced past Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin registering a straight set victory of 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Nadal was at his usual best right from the start, as he seems to have completely recovered from the wrist injury, which forced him to withdraw from Roland Garros midway and also prevented him from participating in the Wimbledon.

His return to Grand Slam action was grand, as he blew away his lesser known opponent, in just two hours and seven minutes. The Uzbek tried to fight back in the second set, but a relentless Nadal broke his serve to go up by two sets to nil. Nadal was equally dangerous with both his forehand and backhand, and won 7 break points in the tie.

An exquisite forehand saw Nadal break once again in the third set, after which there was no looking back. The Spaniard hit 2 aces and 21 winners in all to outclass 107 ranked Istomin. With this win, he is set to face Italian Andreas Sippi in the second round, against whom he has an impeccable head to head record of 7-1.

Nadal has also become the first player to it hit the first ball, under the new retractable roof at the Arthur Ashe Stadium Stadium, a milestone in the tournament history.