Tennis News

From around the world

Nadal beats Djokovic to reach Italian Open final

  • Posted: May 19, 2018

Rafael Nadal came out on top in a captivating Italian Open semi-final against long-term rival Novak Djokovic as he won 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in Rome.

A gruelling contest was full of heavy-hitting and dramatic points, with Nadal edging the first set on a tie-break.

Djokovic, who is trying to get back to his best after returning from elbow surgery in January, faded in the second set as Nadal powered to victory.

The Spaniard will face Germany’s Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

  • Halep beats Sharapova to reach final

Zverev, the world number three, beat Croatia’s Marin Cilic 7-6 (15-13) 7-5.

“It was a tough match,” said 31-year-old Nadal. “Playing against him is always a challenge.

“I played a couple of bad shots serving for the first set. Against him you always have to play at the limit of your game.

“I needed to play aggressive with my forehand. When I didn’t do that is when I suffered.

“This victory is a good confidence for me.”

This was the 51st meeting between the pair and first since 16-time Grand Slam winner Nadal beat the Serb in May 2017.

There were concerns over how 30-year-old Djokovic would fare considering his quarter-final victory late on against Kei Nishikori the previous day, but he looked back to his best in the first set.

The pair traded some punishing blows in front of a enraptured crowd and, even though Nadal led 5-2, Djokovic recovered to take three games in a row on the way to sending the opener to a tie-break.

It was 3-3 at the change of ends before Nadal stepped it up and his forehand came to the fore as he won it 7-4.

Nadal broke Djokovic to love in third game of the second set as the efforts of the Serb took their toll on him.

The Spaniard was taken to deuce in the eighth game but held on before securing a victory which has him trailing 26-25 in the head-to-head contests between the two.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Alerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone

Zverev on a roll in 2018

Zverev will aim for an upset of Nadal on Sunday as well as a clay-court Masters double after winning Madrid last weekend.

The 21-year-old German will be playing his fifth final in the past 10 Masters events – he won Rome and Montreal in 2017 and played the Miami final this season.

The win over world number five Cilic – including a tie-break that lasted 20 minutes – extended his current win streak to 13 matches while he has 30 match wins in total in 2018.

Source link

Halep beats Sharapova to reach Italian Open final

  • Posted: May 19, 2018

World number one Simona Halep battled past Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-1 6-4 to set up a repeat of last year’s Italian Open final against defending champion Elina Svitolina.

Halep, whose only other title this year came in January, fell behind after an error-strewn first set in which there were nine breaks of serve in total.

The Romanian bounced back to seal victory in two and a half hours.

Earlier, world number four Svitolina overcame Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-3.

  • Nadal beats Djokovic to reach Italian Open final

“I’m very proud of myself already that I reached the final,” said the 23-year-old Ukrainian, who is aiming to win her third title of the year.

“You know, it was really tough from the first match. I work for these kind of matches, I work on it every day. When my opponent tries to hit everything, I have an answer.”

In the second semi-final, there were six breaks of serve before Sharapova held to take a 4-3 lead in the opening set. Two more breaks for both players followed before the 31-year-old Russian broke again to claim the advantage in the match.

But Halep, following courtside advice from her coach Darren Cahill, fought back to take the second set. And with momentum behind her she clinched victory by converting the first of two match points when Sharapova’s forehand found the net.

  • Live scores, schedule and results

Source link

At 17, Molleker Making Most Of Opportunity In Heilbronn

  • Posted: May 19, 2018

At 17, Molleker Making Most Of Opportunity In Heilbronn

German bidding to reach first ATP Challenger Tour final

Prior to this week, 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker had never won a match on the ATP Challenger Tour.

But now, the German youngster, appearing in just his third main-draw at Challenger level, is bidding to become the youngest Challenger finalist of 2018 (17 years, seven months).

Expected to rise almost 100 places into the Top 400 of the ATP Rankings on Monday, Molleker has defeated back-to-back seeds at the Heilbronner Neckarcup to reach the semi-finals. The German upset fourth-seeded countryman Yannick Hanfmann and seventh seed Alexey Vatutin in three sets to make headlines at the ATP Challenger Tour’s 2017 Tournament of the Year.

“This is not expected,” admitted Molleker. “But I think that at the moment I’m playing very good tennis. I have now achieved three great wins and you can’t say I was lucky. I know I can beat the top players. We’ve seen that. I just need to be more consistent.”

Inspired by World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, who won the title in Heilbronn in 2015, Molleker looks to follow in the footsteps of the three-time ATP Masters 1000 titlist.

“Sascha [Zverev] is an absolutely exceptional player,” said Molleker. “Of course I hope that my career will be similar, but until then I still have a very long way to go.”

It is not just present German stars motivating the 17-year-old as he breaks through at Challenger level however, the Ukraine-born star also received advice from former World No. 1 Boris Becker during a recent German Tennis Federation seminar.

“We talked about the mental part of my tennis,” shared Molleker. “I know that I can have a good technique and strong game, but sometimes it just does not hit me mentally. Boris [Becker] has given me some tips on how to improve myself in this area. That’s the part that I pay special attention to in the game.”

Despite the parallels to Zverev in Heilbronn and the attention from Becker, Molleker does not feel a sense of pressure as Germany’s latest #NextGenATP hope. The 6’1” right-hander displays maturity beyond his years, focussing instead on how the added attention can be of a benefit to his career ambitions.

“I do not see that as pressure, but as possibility,” said Molleker. “Without this, I would not have received a wild card for the Neckarcup. I think I have justified the confidence placed in me by winning and I am glad that the tournament continues for me.”

The #NextGenATP German, who reached his first ATP World Tour main draw at the 2017 German Tennis Championships, plans to spend the majority of this season playing more Challenger events; a tier of the sport that Molleker possesses an added level of appreciation for.

“Together with my coach, we’ve decided that this year I will be mainly playing Challenger tournaments to earn points for the ATP Rankings,” shared Molleker. “I am thankful to be given a wild card here in Heilbronn this week. My next highlight will be Roland Garros juniors in Paris. But I like it better in Challengers. Here, players do better to create points and there seems to be more of a system behind it. You know why you play each ball and where you hit it. I feel that is easier for me.”

Source link

Hewitt wins Japan Open singles to finish Asia tour with three titles

  • Posted: May 19, 2018

Britain’s Gordon Reid has won the Japan Open men’s singles wheelchair tennis title for the second year running.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic champion defeated Japanese world number three Shingo Kunieda 6-4 4-6 6-1 in Iizuka.

World number five Reid, 26, ends the tournament as singles and doubles champion after his triumph with fellow Briton Alfie Hewett on Friday.

“Taking the title is the perfect end to this tour for me,” said the Scot, who won the Korea Open last week.

“I’m looking forward to taking this confidence into the rest of the tournaments over the summer.”

Source link