Nadal Named In Spain Squad For Davis Cup

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain 
Johannes EISELE / AFP

World number two Rafael Nadal has been named in the Spain squad for the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next month.

Nadal was included in a list of five Spanish players, with Roberto Bautista, Pablo Carreno, Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers also picked by coach Sergi Bruguera.

A wrist injury forced Nadal to withdraw from the Shanghai Masters three weeks ago and it remains to be seen whether the 19-time grand slam champion is fit enough to play.

World number 40 Fernando Verdasco said he was “very disappointed” to be left out.

“Very sad and disappointed not to be in the team of @CopaDavis and that the captain #SergiBruguera doesn’t count on me,” Verdasco wrote on Twitter. “I was very excited to possibly play my last Davis Cup in my city (#Madrid). Thanks to all those that do believe in me!”

The Davis Cup starts on November 18 at the Caja Magica and Spain have been draw alongside Russia and Croatia in Group B.

Controversial changes to the format of the 119-year-old tournament mean 18 teams will contest the finals over the course of a week.

Each tie will consist of two singles and one doubles match, with the winners of the six groups and two best-ranked runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals.

Nadal Could Be A Fantastic Footballer, Says Mourinho

 

Jose Mourinho believes Rafael Nadal would have made “a fantastic footballer” had he not chosen to become one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Chelsea manager said that the world number two, currently chasing a third Wimbledon title, had all the attributes needed to succeed in football.

READ ALSO: Man City Sign Spain International Rodri For Club Record Fee

“He’s incredible. He could have been a fantastic footballer with his physique, mentality, and skill,” said the Portuguese, who worked with Nadal’s uncle, Miguel Angel when he was on the coaching staff at Barcelona.

“I am happy that he isn’t a footballer. In tennis, he is what he is.”

‘Incredible’ Dream: Nadal Faces Thiem For 12th Roland Garros Title

 

Rafael Nadal has admitted that the prospect of winning a 12th Roland Garros title and 18th major on Sunday would have once just seemed liked an “incredible” dream in a career so often at the mercy of a succession of morale-sapping injuries.

However, he knows he cannot under-estimate Austria’s Dominic Thiem when they meet again in the Roland Garros final.

Thiem has four wins on clay over the 33-year-old Spaniard — only Novak Djokovic has more.

The 25-year-old arrives in the final having shocked world number one Djokovic in a five-set semi-final on Saturday, ending the Serb’s 26-match winning run at the Slams.

“Yes, it’s incredible to be here again to be honest,” said Nadal, who has never lost a Roland Garros final and boasts a 92-2 record at the tournament since his 2005 debut.

“It is very special and difficult to explain, but here we are. And the day that we start thinking about if it’s incredible or not probably will be the day to do another thing.”

Nadal has hardly broken sweat at the French Open this year, making the final for the loss of just one set, against David Goffin in the third round.

Against Roger Federer in the semi-finals, he conceded just five games, handing the Swiss his worst Slam loss in 11 years.

“There is nobody who even plays remotely close to Rafa,” admitted Federer.

“I don’t even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him.”

‘Ultimate challenge’

Victory on Sunday will move Nadal on to 18 majors, just two behind Federer on the all-time list.

He is also the best part of five years younger than his old rival.

“This is something I never dreamed about five, six, eight years ago, but it’s happening today,” said Nadal who has been written off numerous times in his career.

His battles with knee and wrist problems have seen him miss eight Grand Slam tournaments.

A wrist injury forced a withdrawal from Roland Garros after two rounds in 2016 which in turn forced him to sit out Wimbledon.

“My goal is to keep going,” a defiant Nadal added.

The world number two allowed Thiem just nine games when they met in the 2018 final in Paris.

However, the Austrian won their most recent meeting on clay in the semi-finals in Barcelona in April in straight sets.

Nadal also needed five sets to see off Thiem in the quarter-finals at the US Open last year.

He leads their head-to-head 8-4.

Despite having to play four days in succession, Thiem said he was happy to come back out again on Sunday.

His coach Nicolas Massu, however, had said he asked the tournament referee if the final could be shifted back 24 hours.

“I think it’s fine. I mean, it’s not the first time that that happens in tennis, and it’s not going to be the last time. That’s our sport,” said Thiem whose semi-final with Djokovic spanned a full 24 hours.

Thiem, bidding to become just Austria’s second Roland Garros men’s champion after Thomas Muster in 1995, describes facing Nadal in Paris as “the ultimate challenge”.

“I played a really good match against him in Barcelona. It was six weeks ago. So of course I try to do similar even though it’s way tougher to play him here,” he said.

Despite playing over four hours over two days to defeat Djokovic for just the third time in 10 meetings, Thiem has only spent two more hours on court than Nadal getting to the final.

“I’m feeling fine. I’m full of adrenaline still from today’s match, and also I will have that tomorrow,” he added.

“So I’m not going to be tired. It’s all going to come after the tournament. So I’m ready to leave all or everything what I have out on the court tomorrow.”

With Nadal the overwhelming favourite, Thiem refuses to put too much pressure on his shoulders.

Some of the statistics back up his conservative approach.

Nadal has saved 15 of 22 break points (68%) while Thiem has saved 17 of 32 (53%).

On break points converted, the Spaniard has a 37/70 conversion rate (53%) with Thiem making 34 of 71 (48%), less than half his opportunities.

“It’s big dream for me to win on Sunday. But I also have in my head that if it’s not happening tomorrow, which can happen easy because of the opponent who is on the other side of the net, so I think I don’t make myself too much pressure.”

If Thiem becomes just the third man to beat Nadal at Roland Garros, he will also be the 150th male Grand Slam champion.

However, in their three meetings at Roland Garros, Thiem has yet to take a set off Nadal.

AFP

Nadal Faces Thiem For 12th Roland Garros Title

Dominic Thiem (L) and Rafael Nadal will battle for the French Open crown on Sunday, June 9, 2019. AFP photos.

 

Rafael Nadal admits winning a 12th Roland Garros title and 18th major would once have seemed liked an “incredible” dream in a career so often at the mercy of a succession of morale-sapping injuries.

However, Nadal, the second seed, knows he cannot under-estimate Austria’s Dominic Thiem when they meet again in the Roland Garros final on Sunday.

Thiem has four wins on clay over the 33-year-old Spaniard — only Novak Djokovic has more.

The 25-year-old arrives in the final having shocked world number one Djokovic in a five-set semi-final on Saturday.

“Yes, it’s incredible to be here again to be honest,” said Nadal, who has never lost a Roland Garros final and boasts a 92-2 record at the tournament since his 2005 debut.

“It is very special and difficult to explain, but here we are. And the day that we start thinking about if it’s incredible or not probably will be the day to do another thing.”

Nadal has hardly broken sweat at the French Open this year, making the final for the loss of just one set, against David Goffin in the third round.

Against Roger Federer in the semi-finals, he conceded just five games, handing the Swiss his worst Slam loss in 11 years.

“There is nobody who even plays remotely close to Rafa,” admitted Federer.

“I don’t even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him.”

‘Ultimate challenge’

Victory on Sunday will move Nadal on to 18 majors, just two behind Federer on the all-time list.

He is also the best part of five years younger than his old rival.

“This is something I never dreamed about five, six, eight years ago, but it’s happening today,” said Nadal who has been written off numerous times in his career.

His battles with knee and wrist problems have seen him miss eight Grand Slam tournaments.

A wrist injury forced a withdrawal from Roland Garros after two rounds in 2016 which in turn forced him to sit out Wimbledon.

“My goal is to keep going,” a defiant Nadal added.

The world number two allowed Thiem just nine games when they met in the 2018 final in Paris.

However, the Austrian won their most recent meeting on clay in the semi-finals in Barcelona in April in straight sets.

Nadal also needed five sets to see off Thiem in the quarter-finals at the US Open last year.

He leads their head-to-head 8-4.

Despite having to play four days in succession, Thiem said he was happy to come back out again on Sunday.

His coach Nicolas Massu, however, had said he asked the tournament referee if the final could be shifted back 24 hours.

“I think it’s fine. I mean, it’s not the first time that that happens in tennis, and it’s not going to be the last time. That’s our sport,” said Thiem.

Thiem, bidding to become just Austria’s second Roland Garros men’s champion after Thomas Muster in 1995, describes facing Nadal in Paris as “the ultimate challenge”.

“I played a really good match against him in Barcelona. It was six weeks ago. So of course I try to do similar even though it’s way tougher to play him here,” he said.

Despite playing over four hours over two days to defeat Djokovic for just the third time in 10 meetings, Thiem has only spent two more hours on court than Nadal getting to the final.

“I’m feeling fine. I’m full of adrenaline still from today’s match, and also I will have that tomorrow,” he added.

“So I’m not going to be tired. It’s all going to come after the tournament. So I’m ready to leave all or everything what I have out on the court tomorrow.”

AFP

Thiem Ends Djokovic History Bid, Faces Nadal In Roland Garros Final

Austria’s Dominic Thiem (R) and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hug at the end of their men’s singles semi-final match on day fourteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 8, 2019,./AFP

 

Novak Djokovic said his shock Roland Garros defeat to Dominic Thiem, which ended his dream of becoming just the second man in history to hold all Grand Slam titles at the same time twice, was played out in “hurricane conditions”.

Thiem downed the world number one 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 to set up a repeat of last year’s final against 11-time winner and defending champion Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic, who was second best to Thiem when it came to mastering the gloom, wind and damp of Paris, was bidding to join Rod Laver in the Grand Slam history books.

“When you’re playing in hurricane kind of conditions, it’s hard to perform your best,” said Djokovic.

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“It’s really just kind of surviving in this kind of conditions and trying to hold your serve and play, you know, one ball more than your opponent in the court.

“That’s what it felt like playing yesterday, to be honest.

“I don’t want to point out some reasons or find excuses for this loss. I mean, he took it, he won it, and well done to him.”

The match had been controversially suspended on Friday night with the match at one set each but with Thiem up 3-1 in the third and with all the momentum on his side.

Winds of 80km/h were forecast for the evening.

Asked to describe the conditions, Djokovic added: “One of the worst conditions I have ever been part of. That’s all I can tell you.”

Federer, Nadal To Meet In French Open Semi-Final Blockbuster

Nadal and Federer (File photo)

 

Roger Federer set up a mouthwatering French Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Tuesday when he defeated Stan Wawrinka in four sets to become the oldest men’s Grand Slam semi-finalist in 28 years.

The 37-year-old Swiss beat his compatriot 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to reach his 43rd major semi-final and eighth at Roland Garros.

Defending champion Nadal, bidding for a 12th title at the French Open, blitzed a weary Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

Federer trails his head-to-head record with Nadal 23-15 — despite winning their last five matches — and 13-2 on clay.

The Spaniard has a 5-0 stranglehold over Federer at Roland Garros with Nadal winning their most recent Paris clash in 2011 final.

“The complete dream would be to win the tournament,” said Federer. “Other players won’t agree. It will be difficult, but I believe it anyway.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion is the oldest man to make the semis at one of the big four tournaments since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open aged 39.

Wawrinka saved 16 of 18 break points in a thrilling encounter, but Federer quickly finished off the match after a rain delay to progress.

It is the third seed’s first appearance at the French Open since 2015 after taking time away from clay to focus on Wimbledon, but he has been in fine form in Paris and has only lost one set so far — as has Nadal.

Nadal, who turned 33 on Monday, is three behind Federer in the all-time list of Grand Slam singles titles heading into their 39th career clash.

It will be Federer’s first Roland Garros semi-final since a defeat by Novak Djokovic in 2012.

The 2009 French Open champion struck 53 winners on Tuesday, as Wawrinka’s 61 unforced errors proved costly.

In a dramatic opening set on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Federer saved four break points before taking it in a tie-break.

Wawrinka had saved 22 of 27 break points in his epic last-16 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, including all eight in the deciding set, and he was at it again on Tuesday, making it seven from seven to move 3-1 in front in the second.

He suffered from a few jitters when serving to level the match, but took his fourth set point.

The topsy-turvy nature of the encounter continued in the third set, as Federer missed two set points before salvaging two break points himself after the players had earlier traded breaks.

Wawrinka held his nerve to force the quarter-final’s second tie-break, but Federer moved two sets to one in front on his fifth set point.

After the threat of thunderstorms and dark skies forced the players from the court with the fourth set level at 3-3, Federer returned refreshed 80 minutes later and sealed a 23rd victory over Wawrinka in their 26th meeting, despite needing three match points to get over the line.

– Nadal thrashes Nishikori –
Nadal took his record in Paris to 91 wins and just two defeats in a one-sided contest with Nishikori to reach his 31st Slam semi-final.

“It’s a great satisfaction to be in another semi-final, there are lots of emotions,” said Nadal.

“My level has been very good throughout the tournament and I am happy to be able to come back and play another day.”

Tuesday’s win was Nadal’s 11th in 13 meetings against Japanese seventh seed Nishikori who had played back-to-back five-setters to reach his third quarter-final at Roland Garros.

The 29-year-old Nishikori managed just nine winners in total in the first two sets.

As the skies darkened over the city, so did Nishikori’s mood as he slipped 4-1 down in the third.

Even the weather delay didn’t help as Nadal needed just another eight minutes to finish the job.

Johanna Konta became the first British woman in 36 years to reach the semi-finals by sweeping past seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens, last year’s runner-up, 6-1, 6-4 to set up a tie against Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova.

The 28-year-old Konta had not won a match at Roland Garros in any of her previous four visits.

But now she has emulated Jo Durie who was the last British woman to make the French Open semi-finals in 1983.

“I’ve always said that whenever I step out onto the court, I’m always going to have a chance. I’m always going to have a shot,” said Konta.

The 19-year-old Vondrousova battled past Croatian 31st Petra Martic 7-6 (7/1), 7-5.

“She had beaten me four times before but I think Roland Garros must be my lucky place,” said the Czech after securing victory on a fourth match point.

Kyrgios Disqualified As Federer, Nadal, Djokovic Advance In Rome

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios returns the ball to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (unseen) during their ATP Masters tournament tennis match at the Foro Italico in Rome on May 14, 2019. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios was disqualified from the Italian Open after an expletive-laden rant on Thursday as defending champion Rafael Nadal swept into the third round along with top seed Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Kyrgios grabbed the headlines when he suffered a spectacular meltdown on Court Three against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud.

The controversial 24-year-old, who had marked his presence in Rome by criticising Djokovic and Nadal in an interview on Wednesday, starting arguing with the umpire in the third set.

World number 36 Kyrgios had levelled the match at one set all but was given a game penalty early on in the third set for swearing.

READ ALSO: Man City Face Further Action Over Financial Fairplay ‘Breaches’

His response was to kick out at a water bottle before throwing a chair onto the court, packing his bag and then storming off court, shouting I am fucking done’’

Kyrgios was automatically disqualified with Ruud winning 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 2-1 to advance to the third round against former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

Kyrgios had already been at the centre of controversy during Wednesday’s washout when he told the NCR Tennis Podcast that Djokovic had “a sick obsession with wanting to be liked” and that the Serb’s post-match celebration was “cringeworthy”.

Nadal was described by the Australian as “super-salty”.

Meanwhile, Nadal crushed France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1, with Federer, a four-time runner-up, easing past Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3, and Djokovic beating Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3.

All three are in action again later in the day to make up time after play was washed out on Wednesday.

Nadal meets Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, with Federer up against Croatian Borna Coric, and Djokovic facing Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.

For 37-year-old Federer, returning to Italy for the first time since 2016, it was like a practice session.

“Like any other practice day when you play twice a day, you finish the first session, take a shower, eat something, relax, get ready for the next one,” said the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

“I think it gives me some good information. I believe it’s going to be similar conditions in the match this afternoon.”

Nadal said it was a “good start” as he targets a first title on clay this season before he starts the defence of his French Open crown from May 26.

“That’s important for what’s coming up,” said the eight-time Rome winner.

World number four Dominic Thiem slammed tournament organisers after he was dumped out 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 by Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

Austrian Thiem complained competitors were left hanging around during the rain-impacted day 24 hours earlier.

“I really dislike how we players get treated at this tournament because yesterday was, in my opinion, not acceptable,” said last year’s French Open runner-up.

“I’m quite pissed about it. I was tired, exhausted, today because of all these shitty things,” he added.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the sixth seed, got past American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-4 and next meets Jan-Lennard Struff.

– Osaka clinches Roland Garros top seed –
In the women’s competition, world number one Naomi Osaka fought back after losing her serve early to ease past Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3 against the 33rd-ranked Slovak who she also beat last week in Madrid.

The Japanese star hit 44 winners and 12 aces, despite 25 unforced errors.

Osaka, the US Open and Australian Open champion, reached the third round in Rome for the first time in three appearances.

She was at risk of losing her world number one ranking to Simona Halep but the Romanian was knocked out by Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova losing 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 having needed to win the tournament to regain top spot she last held in mid-January.

Halep’s defeat also guarantees Osaka’s top seed at the French Open.

Next up for the Japanese player on the clay of the Foro Italico is Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Czech second seed Petra Kvitova eased past Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-0, 6-1.

AFP

‘Worst Clay Match In 14 Years’: Nadal Crashes To Fognini In Monte Carlo Shocker

Spain’s Rafael Nadal hits a return to Italy’s Fabio Fognini during the semi-final tennis match of the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal crashed to Fabio Fognini in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Saturday, the Spanish clay court king swept aside 6-4, 6-2, to end his bid for a 12th title.

The shock result leaves Italian 13th seed Fognini facing unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic in Sunday’s unscripted final.

Fognini, who beat Nadal three times all on clay in 2015, stopped a 25-set win streak in the principality for the world number two.

READ ALSOLajovic Defeats Medvedev To Reach Monte Carlo Final

The last man to take a set off Nadal in Monte Carlo was Britain’s Kyle Edmund in 2017.

Fognini ended Nadal’s Monte Carlo reign on the fifth match point.

Nadal Takes Positives Out Of Australian Open Defeat

pain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during a press conference after his defeat to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the men’s singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal said he took a lot of positives out of the Australian Open on his return from injury, despite being thrashed in the final Sunday by Novak Djokovic.

The Spanish second seed had played an outstanding level of tennis at the tournament without dropping a set until he met his arch-rival on Rod Laver Arena.

And he had no answer to the world number one’s booming groundstrokes and precision serve to limp out of Melbourne Park 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Despite the rout, Nadal said he was content with being able to even reach the final given the injury problems that prevented him from playing any matches after the US Open until he got to Melbourne.

“Tonight was not my best day, and of course I had someone that played a lot better than me tonight,” he said.

“I have been going through tough moments in the last year. (I have played) only nine events and since the US Open I was not able to play until the first round here.

“Even if tonight was not my night it’s so important for me to be where I am coming back from injury.

“I really believe I played a great two weeks of tennis, there’s a good energy and good inspiration for what is coming.”

Nadal had not played a main tour event since a knee problem forced him to retire during his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in September.

The 32-year-old had surgery on his ankle in November to remove a loose intra-articular body and only resumed training in December.

He played the opening round at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi to start his season, where he lost to South African Kevin Anderson, and withdraw from the warm-up Brisbane International.

But en route to the final he emphatically shattered the dreams of three of the NextGen stars — 19-year-old Alex de Minaur, 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20.

And Nadal, with 17 Grand Slam titles to his name, vowed there was more to come despite being 32 and guaranteed to be considered among the best to have ever lifted a racquet.

“I’m going to keep fighting hard to be a better player,” he said.

Federer, Kerber Crash Out Of Australian Open As Nadal Powers On

Roger Federer (L) and Angelique Kerber could not make it to the quarters of the Australian Open. AFP Photos

 

Defending champion Roger Federer was stunned by fiery Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who ended his bid for a record seventh Australian Open Sunday on a day of upsets that also saw second seed Angelique Kerber crash out.

The Swiss master caved in under the energy and pressure of a man 17 years his junior to tumble out 6-7 (11/13), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in the last 16 on Rod Laver Arena.

World number two Kerber was also sensationally bundled out by a woman playing the event for the first time, with American Danielle Collins humiliating the Wimbledon champion 6-0, 6-2 in under an hour.

The man Federer beat in last year’s final, sixth seed Marin Cilic, was also sent packing by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who now plays Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Shaparova was another to fall, but there was no such drama for a rampant Rafael Nadal who powered into the last eight with a straight sets win over Tomas Berdych.

Federer was gunning for a 21st Grand Slam title but had a battle on his hands from off against the 20-year-old, touted among the new generation of young stars as a future champion.

“I’m the happiest man on Earth right now, I cannot describe it,” said the 14th seed, who is the first Greek in history to reach the quarter-finals of a Slam.

“I’ve been idolising him (Federer) since the age of six. It was a dream come true for me just being on Rod Laver facing him. Winning at the end, I can’t describe it.”

The Swiss great was gracious in defeat, saying “I lost to a better player who was playing very well, who hung in there and stayed calm”.

Wimbledon winner and 2016 champion Kerber, the bookies’ favourite along with Serena Williams after defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was ousted early, was no match for Collins, ranked 35 in the world.

Collins is little known after playing much of her tennis in the US college system and was making her debut in the main draw at Melbourne Park. She had never won a Grand Slam match before this year.

“I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this but I tell you, it’s going to keep happening,” said the 25-year-old. “I better have many more of these.”

Chipping away

Men’s second seed Nadal, returning from foot surgery, barrelled past former world number four Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) as he stays on track for an 18th Grand Slam title.

“I always say the same when I am back for injury,” said the Spaniard. “I don’t expect negative or positive things. I just try to do my work every day and just be with (the) right attitude every single day.”

He will play world number 39 Frances Tiafoe for a place in the semi-finals after the young American celebrated his 21st birthday by grinding his way past Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (1/7), 7-5.

Hometown hero Ashleigh Barty also made the last eight after muscling past Sharapova and will next meet Petra Kvitova.

Sharapova claimed her biggest scalp since completing a drugs ban in 2017 when she rolled Wozniacki in round three and looked on track to carry the momentum forward.

The 30th seed won the first set but then fell to pieces, eventually succumbing 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“I knew I had to keep chipping away — in a sense, trust the work we’ve done. I know that I can match it with the best,” said Barty, seeded 15.

Next up for the diminutive 22-year-old is Kvitova, who beat Barty in the final of the warm-up Sydney International this month.

The two-time Wimbledon champion beat 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1 to match her best performance at a major since being slashed in a terrifying attack at her home in late 2016 that left her with lasting nerve damage in her fingers.

AFP

Federer Hails ‘Super-Inspiring’ Nadal For Spain’s Flood Help

Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal (C) observes a minute of silence on October 11, 2018 with students and workers of the “Rafa Nadal Academy” in Manacor to honour the victims of the flash flood that affected the Spanish Balearic island of Majorca. JAIME REINA / AFP

 

Roger Federer hailed old rival Rafael Nadal as “super-inspiring” after the world number one joined in the clean-up operation after flash floods killed 12 people on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca.

Spanish tennis star Nadal, 32, was pictured wearing boots and white gloves, mopping up the floor of a warehouse on Wednesday on the island where he lives.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, currently sidelined through injury, has also offered to open up his sports centre and tennis academy to people made homeless by the floods.

“I know how important Majorca is to Rafa and I have been in touch with him to see if I can help with anything,” Federer said in a video message recorded in Shanghai where he is currently competing.

“I have seen him helping in the village where he comes from and to see that is super-inspiring. Rafa, you have our support.

“We are thinking of all the people in Majorca. We wish you strength in these difficult times and I hope to be back on Majorca soon.”

Fellow rival Novak Djokovic, also taking part in Shanghai, said he hoped Nadal’s efforts would inspire others.

“A big hug and friendly regards to Rafa and well-done amigo for helping out,” said the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion.

“I invite anyone to give their support in any way they can. Gracias.”

Nadal Leads Toronto Field With Murray Missing

Spain’s Rafael Nadal                                                                                                     Eric FEFERBERG / AFP

 

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal will be working to increase grip atop the rankings at the ATP Toronto Masters, an event which lost an exhausted Andy Murray prior to Monday’s start.

Britain’s Murray, winner of three matches in four days this week in Washington, withdrew from Washington and Canada on Friday after finishing his latest victory after 3 a.m., breaking down in tears after the match.

But the cumulative effort was too much for the 31-year-old Scotsman, who underwent right hip surgery in January.

“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the past four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” Murray said.

“I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury.”

The former number one, now ranked 832, was playing the third event in his slow-running comeback after first returning in June on grass in Britain before withdrawing from Wimbledon.

World number two Roger Federer is skipping Canada and will return on August 13 in Cincinnati, where Murray is also expected.

Federer, limiting his schedule to extend his longevity, turns 37 on Wednesday.

Nadal will be making his first appearance on court since a five-set Wimbledon semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic.

With most of the rankings top 10 in Canada, Nadal’s path to a potential fourth title in the country after 2005, 2008 and 2013 will be a predictable challenge.

The Spaniard resumed training recently on his home island of Mallorca after spending off-time sailing.

Nadal opens play on Wednesday against either American Jared Donaldson or Frenchman Benoit Paire, fined $16,500 this week for a racquet-smashing outburst in Washington.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion isn’t looking ahead at other potential foes such as Swiss three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka or Australian Nick Kyrgios.

“I cannot think about Wawrinka, Kyrgios, Joao (Sousa) before playing Benoit or a qualifier,” Nadal said.

“I know the first round is going to be a tough battle. But the full draw doesn’t distract me from being focused on that first round.”

“I always take it match by match. That’s what I’ve done all my life. That’s the only way, in my opinion, to have success.

“You need to respect all opponents. In tennis, things change so quickly, so you need to be ready to accept both victories and losses.”

Second seed Alexander Zverev will defend his crown after beating a tiring Federer in the 2017 title match at the event, which alternates annually between Toronto and Montreal.

The 21-year-old German has shown he has the game to challenge the elite, winning Masters 1000 trophies in Rome, Montreal and Madrid.

But his weakness so far has been the Grand Slams, where the NextGen talent can boast just one quarter-final from Roland Garros last spring.

With his big-match format suspect, durability has also been a recent problem for Zverev.

He lost at Roland Garros in his third successive five-set match as he played Ernests Gulbis and was tested in a pair of three-setters in Washington.

Zverev will come to Canada having had little chance to rest and regroup, starting with either Spain’s David Ferrer or a qualifier.

Third seed Juan Matin del Potro will be hoping to make up for a second-round loss a year ago, taking on either Japan’s Kei Nishikori or Dutchman Robin Haase.

Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson takes the fourth seeding, the South African to open against Russian Andrey Rublev or a qualifier.

Wimbledon winner Djokovic starts with South Korea’s Chung Hyeon, an Australian Open semi-finalist bothered by injury much of this season.

AFP