Tennis News

From around the world

'Drastic change' of attitude after injuries helped Nadal win 12th French Open

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Rafael Nadal says winning his 12th French Open is extra special after a turbulent year where he considered taking an extended break because of injury problems.

Nadal, 33, played just three events in 2019 prior to the clay-court season.

But it ended with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 win over Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final at Roland Garros.

“I’ve had too many issues. So that makes these last few weeks very, very special,” he said.

“One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body.

“And the other was to drastically change my attitude and my mentality.

“I was able to change and fight for every small improvement that I was able to make.”

World number two Nadal has been hampered by injury problems over the past two seasons, pulling out of 10 tournaments last year because of a combination of hip, knee, stomach and ankle problems.

After retiring from his US Open semi-final against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in September with a knee problem, Nadal did not play for the rest of the year.

The Spaniard had ankle surgery in November, returning at the Australian Open in January when he lost in straight sets in the final to world number one Novak Djokovic.

He did not play again until March at Indian Wells, where he was forced to pull out before his semi-final against Roger Federer with another knee problem.

A five-week break leading up to the clay-court season followed, with Nadal reaching the semi-finals in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

That meant he did not win a tour title in 2019 until the Italian Open – the final Masters 1,000 tournament before Roland Garros.

“After Indian Wells, as I said couple of times, mentally I was down,” he said. “I lost a little bit of energy, because I had too many issues in a row.

“It is tough when you receive one and then another.

“Mentally I was not enjoying things. I was too worried about my health and, being honest, I was being too negative.

“After the first round in Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about what’s going on, what I need to do. And since that first match in Barcelona, I think things have been improving every single day.”

His coach Carlos Moya says his fellow Mallorcan has shown he is “mentally a genius” after battling through his injury troubles to triumph again at Roland Garros.

“It’s been the toughest period for sure since I’ve been there. It was really hard. He really had to push himself to the limit to be back on the court, to practise, to be motivated,” said Moya, who linked up with Nadal in 2017.

“He had an unbelievable attitude in those bad moments and that’s what took him to victory today.”

  • Nadal beats Thiem to win French open title
  • Relive Nadal’s French Open final win

‘You can’t be frustrated if your neighbour has a bigger house’

Nadal’s victory over Thiem on the Paris clay is his 18th major title, moving him within two of long-time rival Roger Federer’s all-time men’s singles record.

But Nadal has again said catching the Swiss is not on his mind.

“If I catch Roger or not, I am not very worried about it,” he said.

“You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbour has a bigger house than you, or a bigger TV, or a better garden.

“That’s not the way that I see the life.

“If, by the end of my career, I am able to win a couple of more Grand Slams and be closer to Roger, it will be unbelievable.

“I am going to try my best to keep enjoying tennis, giving myself chances to compete at the highest level and we will see what happens.”

I was closer than last year – Thiem

Thiem believes he is on the right path towards a Grand Slam title, despite again falling to Nadal in his second major final.

The 25-year-old Austrian lost in straight sets to the Spaniard in last year’s Roland Garros showpiece.

He has been reaping the rewards of his partnership with new coach Nicolas Massu, who replaced his childhood coach Gunter Bresnik earlier this year.

Thiem won his first Masters 1,000 title in March – the tier of tournaments behind the Slams – by beating Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final, and then claimed the Barcelona Open title in April, having defeated Nadal in the semi-finals.

“Even though I didn’t win this tournament, two finals in a row, it’s nice,” he said after his defeat on the Paris clay.

“I think that I have developed my game. I was also closer than last year in the final. So I’m on the right way.

“I failed today, but my goal and my dream is still to win this tournament or to win a Grand Slam tournament.”

Thiem matched Nadal for large parts of an intense opening set, breaking for a 3-2 lead before the Spaniard fought back to win the final four games.

Thiem responded by winning the second set before Nadal took control.

“He played outstanding because especially in the first two sets I played very good tennis,” the Austrian said.

“What he was performing I think is unbelievable.

“I played very good the first two sets, and then I had a little drop, which is against most of the players not that bad.

“But he took the chance and stepped right on me.”

Thiem had 24 hours fewer than Nadal to prepare after his weather-delayed semi-final against Djokovic finished on Saturday afternoon.

He had also played on four consecutive days because his quarter-final against Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov was pushed back to Thursday after rain led to play being cancelled on Wednesday.

“I didn’t feel tired in the match,” he said.

“But at the same time, a match like yesterday, beating Novak over two days with all the interruption, it leaves traces on the body and also on the mind. That’s 100%.”

Reaction to Nadal’s 12th title

Women’s doubles champion and Thiem’s girlfriend Kristina Mladenovic: “12th Roland Garros titles is absolutely unreal! Very proud to see Domi standing next to this legend of our sport! Your turn is coming soon…”

Fifteen-time golf major winner Tiger Woods: “The King of Clay does not like to share his wealth. Congrats Rafael Nadal on #12!”

Former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt: “I see it but I don’t believe it… someone can win 12 Roland Garros singles titles. Rafael Nadal what a performance!”

Eleven-time Grand Slam singles champion Rod Laver: “Simply magnificent Rafael Nadal. Winning a grand slam isn’t easy. Winning 12 French titles is beyond belief. Congratulations King of Clay!”

Former world number one and 12-time Grand Slam singles champion Billie Jean King: “There will never be another Nadal. Congratulations to Rafael Nadal on an incredible 12th French Open win. A genius on clay, with a tremendous work ethic, he’s a role model both on and off the court. Well done!”

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

Source link

Tsitsipas, De Minaur Lead #NextGenATP Charge On Grass

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Tsitsipas, De Minaur Lead #NextGenATP Charge On Grass

11 #NextGenATP players kicking off their grass-court seasons on Monday

In November, they met in the championship match of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. This week in ’s-Hertogenbosch, though, Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and finalist Alex de Minaur could meet in the semi-finals of the Libema Open in The Netherlands.

Tsitsipas and De Minaur are two of the seven #NextGenATP players in the 28-player draw as the grass-court season kicks off on Monday with the ATP 250 in ’s-Hertogenbosch and the MercedesCup, another ATP 250, in Stuttgart.

View The ATP Race To Milan | View ‘s-Hertogenbosch Draw | View Stuttgart Draw

The top-seeded Tsitsipas is looking to become the first player this season to win titles on all three surfaces following his triumphs this year on hard court in Marseille and on clay in Estoril.

De Minaur, on the other hand, is hoping to jumpstart his injury-plagued 2019. The 20-year-old Aussie missed the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell because of a hip injury. He’s only 11-7 on the season.

#NextGenATP At The Libema Open and MercedesCup






No. 6

Stefanos Tsitsipas



Libema Open

No. 22

Felix Auger-Aliassime




No. 24

Denis Shapovalov




No. 25

Alex de Minaur



Libema Open

No. 34

Frances Tiafoe



Libema Open

No. 61

Ugo Humbert



Libema Open

No. 85

Miomir Kecmanovic




No. 109

Alexei Popyrin




No. 133 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 20 Spain Libema Open

No. 201

Jurij Rodionov



Libema Open

No. 215

Jannik Sinner



Libema Open

In Stuttgart, a pair of #NextGenATP Canadians – Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov – along with Aussie Alexei Popyrin and Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, will lead the #NextGenATP effort. Auger-Aliassime will look to reach his third ATP Tour final of the season (Rio, Lyon), while Shapovalov is going for his first ATP Tour final.

Source link

Nadal Flipped The Script To Run Away With 12th Roland Garros Title

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Nadal Flipped The Script To Run Away With 12th Roland Garros Title

Brain Game explains how the Spaniard changed his strategy midway through the Roland Garros final

The wheelhouse was not working, so Rafa lit up Paris with Plan B. Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in the Roland Garros final on Sunday despite two of his “go-to” strategic categories yielding no advantage at all.

Nadal won 23 games to 12 for the match, so you would expect him to be about twice as good as Thiem across all columns of the stats sheet. But after almost two hours of play, and both players a set apiece, the match was not going at all to script for the Spaniard.

The first problem for Nadal was the baseline. It was betraying him. Nadal won the first set, winning only 45 per cent (20/44) of baseline points. He lost the second set, winning a lowly 38 per cent (13/34) of points from the back of the court.

The main reason for his demise from the baseline was extended rallies of nine-plus shots. You can normally pencil in a point won for Nadal at Roland Garros any time a rally reaches double digits, but he won only 46 per cent (16/35) of long rallies in the first two sets.

You May Also Like: Rafa’s Dozen: Nadal Claims 12th Roland Garros Crown

Bonjour Plan B. Nadal played 35 extended rallies in the nine-plus rally length in the first two sets. He played only 11 in the final two sets.

He turned the rules of engagement from the end of the rally to the beginning. Instead of developing the point, he ended it before it had a chance to begin, extinguishing Thiem’s early strategic advantage.

In the final two sets, Nadal crushed Thiem in the short-rally length of zero-to-four shots. Nadal won 29 points to Thiem’s 14 in the category, winning a very healthy 67 per cent. Nadal upped his aggression with the first two touches of the ball, and it carried him to the title.

Plan A was out the window. No more grinding. Plan B was succeeding, and Nadal doubled down on bringing pressure at the front of the point.

In the fourth set, Nadal came to the net the most out of any set in the final, winning eight of nine points at the front of the court. Overall, Nadal won a dominant 85 per cent (23/27) points at net, which was far superior to the 50 per cent (67/134) he won from the back of the court.

Nadal stuck to his traditional first-serve patterns throughout the match, serving mainly down the T in the Deuce court and out wide in the Ad court.

Nadal First-Serve Location
Deuce Court
Wide = 10
Body = 9
T = 20

Ad Court
Wide = 23
Body = 8
T = 8

As Nadal wrestled control of the match in the third set, he won a stunning 100 per cent (8/8) first-serve points, 100 per cent (4/4) second-serve points and 100 per cent (5/5) of net points.

Nadal faced six break points for the match, saving four. Interestingly, he made a first serve on all six, with five of the six directed out wide.

This match was played in two halves. The first two sets were a heavyweight battle. The last two were a gallop.

The match was also played with two separate strategies. The first two sets were long and grinding. The last two were a sprint to the finish line. The average rally length in the first set was 7.76 shots. That was greatly reduced in the third set to 4.23 shots.

Nadal proved once again that he is a master tactician, modifying his primary strategy mid-match to give his opponent a healthy dose of what he didn’t want to see. It was more important for Nadal to employ the strategy that Thiem didn’t want rather than what he wanted to do.

Source link

Dan Evans: British number three beats Viktor Troicki to take Surbiton title

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

British number three Dan Evans beat Viktor Troicki 6-2 6-3 to win the Surbiton Trophy.

The 29-year-old sped into a 5-1 lead en route to taking the first set against 33-year-old Serb Troicki, and did not relinquish the upper hand on his way to victory in front of home support.

American Alison Riske beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 to win the women’s title.

The British grass-court season continues with the Nottingham Open.

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

Source link

Nadal beats Thiem in four sets to win 12th French Open title

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Rafael Nadal maintained his stranglehold on the French Open by beating Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem in four sets to lift a 12th men’s singles title.

The Spaniard won for the third straight year at Roland Garros with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory in a high-quality final.

The 33-year-old is the first player to win 12 singles titles at the same Grand Slam and has now won 18 majors overall.

“I can’t explain what I’ve achieved and how I feel. It’s a dream,” said Nadal.

“To play for the first time in 2005 – I never thought in 2019 I’d still be here. It’s an incredible moment and very special for me.”

It leaves the left-hander two Grand Slam titles adrift of Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who he beat in the semi-finals, and three clear of Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic, whose bid to hold all four majors was ended by Thiem.

The second seed slid to the red dirt in triumph when he clinched victory on the second match point, lying behind the baseline with his arms outstretched as he contemplated the magnitude of his achievement.

With clay plastered over his back, he clambered to his feet and took the acclaim of an enthralled Roland Garros crowd which has become accustomed to seeing him triumph.

Thiem, 25, suffered his second Grand Slam final defeat after losing in three sets to Nadal in last year’s final.

  • Relive Nadal’s French Open final win
  • Return to tennis my best decision – Barty reflects on French Open triumph

Edging a brutal start underpins Nadal’s win

Hundreds of Spanish fans milling around outside Chatrier, identified by their red and yellow flags, football shirts and facepaint, has become an almost annual event before the men’s final at Roland Garros since 2005.

Nadal has won on all but three of his appearances here, with his only defeats coming in the 2009 fourth-round by Robin Soderling and 2015 quarter-finals against Djokovic. In 2016, he pulled out before the third round with injury.

That meant he went into Sunday’s final with a Roland Garros record of 92 wins and two defeats.

A fiercely contested first set was closer than the scoreline suggests, Nadal rattling off the final four games to edge ahead after 55 tense minutes.

Both players understood the importance of making a quick start, Nadal attempting to take advantage of any mental and physical fatigue in his opponent, who only finished his delayed semi-final against top seed Djokovic less than 24 hours earlier.

The result was a physical battle, full of intense rallies as each man tried to gain the upper hand by brute force.

Thiem earned the first break point of the match at 2-2, putting away an overhead which left many inside Chatrier – which only included a handful of red and white-clad Austrian fans – jumping to their feet in celebration.

Nadal responded instantly, earning three break points in the next game and taking the second with a precise forehand which fizzed past Thiem.

Sticking with Nadal was one thing, turning that into taking a set off the champion proved to be a tougher task.

Nadal saw off another break point in a lengthy service game for a 4-3 lead, a pivotal moment as he moved 5-3 ahead as an aggressive backhand rocked Thiem on break point.

That left Nadal serving for the opening set, which he clinched when Thiem dragged a backhand wide on the second set point.

Mental and physical exertions take their toll on Thiem

Thiem knew he could scarcely afford to go a set behind the reigning champion – and falling two adrift would have all but extinguished his hopes.

Following the intensity of the opening set, the level dropped in the second as serve dominated.

Only six receiving points were won in the opening 11 games – five for Nadal and just one for Thiem – before Thiem, out of nowhere, found himself with two set points.

And the Austrian levelled the match when Nadal blinked again, hitting a backhand long after a 10-shot rally.

But the exertions of winning that set, playing four days in a row and having 24 hours fewer than Nadal to recover from the semi-finals, perhaps took their toll.

Nadal nipped off court at the end of the set, possibly for a mental reset as much as anything else, leaving Thiem waiting on the baseline for the start of the third set.

Whether Nadal was using delaying tactics or not, the break of momentum worked.

Thiem delivered a poor service game as Nadal broke to love, the Spaniard backing that up with a hold to love sealed with an exquisite stun volley that even prompted a thumbs up from the Austrian.

Nadal won the opening 11 points of the third and clinched the double break with a trademark forehand down the line, an exuberant quadruple fist-pump celebration along the baseline stressing its importance.

Thiem won just seven points in the third set before ending a miserable 30 minutes with another unforced error into the net.

He began to look weary in the fourth set – particularly mentally – and Nadal smelt blood.

The Spaniard moved into a 3-0 lead, after seeing off break points in his two service games, before breaking again for a 5-1 lead.

Although Thiem saved one match point, he could not prevent the inevitable and batted a Nadal serve long to spark jubilant celebrations from the Spaniard.


Former British number one Greg Rusedski on BBC Radio 5 Live

That was by far the best match we’ve seen at these championships.

Thiem was physically standing toe-to-toe with Nadal in the first set. We knew Thiem had to get off a great start to win his first major and he did that. It was electrifying.

It had a different feel to last year’s final. Thiem wasn’t overawed. He was not like a deer in headlights as he was last year in his first major final.

But it was about as well as I’ve seen Nadal play on a clay court and that’s saying a lot for an 12-time champion.

  • Briton Barker listed as Australian on French Open trophy
  • Alerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone

Source link

How to follow the grass-court season on the BBC

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

The French Open has finished which means only one thing – Wimbledon is coming!

The highlight of the tennis year starts on 1 July and the world’s leading players will be honing their grass-court skills at a range of events in the UK before then.

Johanna Konta, fresh from her French Open success, and Kyle Edmund, subject to fitness, head the list of British players in singles action but it will be the return of two-time Wimbledon winner Andy Murray at Queen’s Club that will capture most attention.

Here’s who is playing where and how to follow live on BBC TV, radio and online.

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham, 10-16 June

Who’s playing: Britain’s Heather Watson, Katie Swan and Harriet Dart are in the women’s draw alongside Croatia’s Donna Vekic and Greece’s Maria Sakkari, with Britons Jay Clarke and James Ward competing in the men’s draw.

Coverage: Live text commentary on selected matches.

Other events: Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart and Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka in the Libema Open in s-Hertogenbosch.

Fever-Tree Championships, Queen’s Club, London, 17-23 June

Who’s playing: Former world number one Andy Murray will be the main attraction, albeit making his return from injury in the doubles, while current British number one Kyle Edmund is part of a strong singles entry list that also includes top-10 players Kevin Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Juan Martin del Potro, Grand Slam winners Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka, and Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Coverage: Live on BBC TV and online with live text and radio coverage on selected matches.

Monday 17 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-18:00), BBC Red Button (12:00-13:00) and Connected TV (12:00-18:00)

Tuesday 18 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-18:00), BBC Red Button (12:00-13:00 and 17:55-19:00) and Connected TV (12:00-19:00)

Wednesday 19 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-18:00), BBC Red Button (12:00-13:00 and 17:55-19:00) and Connected TV (12:00-19:00)

Thursday 20 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-18:00), BBC Red Button (12:00-13:00) and Connected TV (12:00-19:00)

Friday 21 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-18:00), BBC Red Button (12:00-13:00 and 17:55-19:00) and Connected TV (12:00-19:00)

Saturday 22 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-17:00) and Connected TV (13:00-18:00)

Sunday 23 June

Live coverage on BBC Two (13:00-16:00), BBC Red Button (14:00-16:00) and Connected TV (13:00-16:30)

Other events: Swiss 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer tops a stellar list of men’s entries that includes top-10 players Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori at the Gerry Weber Open, Germany, 17-23 June.

Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham, 17-23 June

Who’s playing: Britain’s Johanna Konta seeks to maintain her impressive run of form, while world number one Naomi Osaka will be in attendance, along with former Wimbledon champions Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza and 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys.

Coverage: Live text commentary on selected matches.

Other events: Defending Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber is at the Majorca Open from 17-23 June.

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne, 24-30 June

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and British number one Konta headline a women’s field that also includes Grand Slam winners Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko, while British number two Cameron Norrie plays in the men’s event.

Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and the BBC Sport website.

Wimbledon Qualifying Tournament, London, 24-27 June

Who’s playing: Young British hopefuls will be at the Bank of England Sports Centre seeking to qualify for the championships proper.

Coverage: Live streaming on the BBC Sport website and app.

Other events: Gael Monfils and Fernando Verdasco in the Turkish Open from 24-30 June.

Wimbledon, 1-14 July

Who’s playing: Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber defend their singles titles at the third Grand Slam event of the year.

Coverage: Live across BBC One, BBC Two, iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TV, BBC Sport website, Radio 5 Live, Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport app.

Source link

Rafa's Dozen: Nadal Claims 12th Roland Garros Crown

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Rafa’s Dozen: Nadal Claims 12th Roland Garros Crown

Spaniard defeats Dominic Thiem for 18th Grand Slam title

With the trophy on the line and all to play for, Rafael Nadal produced a masterful display to reign at Roland Garros for the 12th time. The Spaniard overcame a determined effort from Dominic Thiem to prevail 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday afternoon in Paris.

The years may change, but Nadal’s stranglehold on the Coupe des Mousquetaires remains the same. The Spaniard secured his 12th Roland Garros title after three hours and one minute, striking 38 winners and converting seven breaks of serve.

With the victory, Nadal further closes the gap on Roger Federer for most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era. The Mallorca native’s 18th major triumph moves him to just two behind Federer and his record 20-title haul.

Thiem held his ground for the first two hours of the final, even taking his first-ever set from Nadal in four meetings on the terre battue. A majestic shotmaking display greeted fans as both competitors pushed each other to the limit. But as the match wore on, Nadal found his top gear and Thiem was unable to sustain his level.

View Infosys MatchBeats


It is as unprecedented as it is unfathomable. Nadal’s 12th tournament title puts his tenure in Paris in a class by itself. Never before has a player lifted a dozen trophies at a single tour-level event. The Spaniard has become the first to achieve the feat in the Open Era.

At the age of 33, Nadal continues to defy the test of time. The Spaniard extended the streak of Grand Slam titles won by players aged 30 and older to 11 straight. He is now the third-oldest Roland Garros champion, only younger than Andres Gimeno (1972) and Ken Rosewall (1968).

Moreover, in notching his 93rd match win in the French capital, Nadal joins Stefanos Tsitsipas at the top of the tour-level wins list in 2019. Both players own a tour-leading 32 match victories this year, with Nadal also adding a second piece of silverware to his trophy case. He entered Roland Garros on the heels of lifting a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Rome.

Infosys powers real-time insights for every point

Source link

Briton Barker listed as Australian on French Open trophy

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

All this time we’d been thinking Sue Barker was the last British woman to win the French Open.

Apparently we were wrong.

Because, according to the French Open trophy, Barker is, in fact, Australian.

Ashleigh Barty, who is actually Australian, noticed the error after she was crowned women’s singles champion on Saturday.

She searched for her compatriots on the trophy, looking for Margaret Court, who was the last Australian champion – in 1973.

But next to Barker’s name it reads ‘AUST’ rather than ‘GB’.

Barker, now a BBC presenter, won her only Grand Slam title in 1976, but nobody has fixed the engraving error in the 43 years which have passed.

French Open organisers said on Sunday the mistake would be rectified.

They will also amend the 1977 engraving, with champion Mima Jausovec’s surname spelt Jausevec.


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

Source link

Mladenovic and Babos win French Open women's doubles

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

France’s Kristina Mladenovic won a second French Open women’s doubles title as she and Hungary’s Timea Babos beat Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai.

The second seeds, both 26, beat the unseeded Chinese pair 6-2 6-3 to secure their second Grand Slam title together, having won the 2018 Australian Open.

Babos and Mladenovic were runners-up in Melbourne earlier this year.

Mladenovic, who won her first French Open title with Caroline Garcia in 2016, will top the doubles rankings.

Her boyfriend Dominic Thiem was beaten in four sets by Rafael Nadal in the men’s singles final later on Sunday.

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

Source link

Laver’s Grand Slam: 1969 Roland Garros, 50 Years On

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2019

Laver’s Grand Slam: 1969 Roland Garros, 50 Years On

In the second of a four-part series this year, Rod Laver looks back 50 years to 1969 Roland Garros, the second step to his historic second Grand Slam

It is an examination of ability: technique, tactics, physical-conditioning, emotional and mental stamina. Roland Garros is a great advertisement for the sport, where crowds take matches, grim struggles to heart, and Rod Laver, who arrived in Paris 50 years ago, knew that he faced his toughest fortnight of the year. Every player of consequence was present in 1969, prize money was increasing, and there were new names under the heading, ‘Le comité du tournoi’ on the front page of the 1969 programme. French tennis meant business.

“I enjoyed the emotional involvement, watching matches and witnessing the crowds cheer and boo,” Laver told, 50 years on. “Coming back is much more possible on clay than on grass courts. Early on, you looked forward to and dreaded every match, the low-pressure balls, but by Roland Garros in 1969, I was as fit as I’d ever been in my life. In late Spring that year, I remember that the clay was dry, dusty and, as a result, slippery.”

Laver, who had beaten Andres Gimeno in January for the Australian Open crown, had played at a round-robin tournament in Amsterdam the week before and was confident after claiming the second biggest title of the year, two weeks earlier, at Madison Square Garden in New York over Roy Emerson on a slow, synthetic court. Having swept past the Japanese Koji Watanabe in the Roland Garros first round, the 30-year-old looked up to fellow Australian Dick Crealy.

“He was 6’5” and had a big forehand,” recalls Laver. “He hit the ball extremely hard and throughout the first set I was chasing balls. By the time he let up, I was two sets down, but rain stopped play, when it was dark under the lights, at two sets to one up.

“I remember waking at 7 a.m. the next day, practised with Emmo before 9am for a 45-minute pre-match workout, then was ready to go for 10:30am, when it was very windy. It wasn’t a spectator’s hour, as I reckon there were four people in the stadium. I won nine of the next 11 games, but Dick recovered from 1-3 in the fifth set to lead 4-3. He missed a volley into an open court, in the ninth game at 40/30. It was the good fortune I had.”

Laver completed a 3-6, 7-9, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 second-round victory with the wind on his back, grateful to survive. “The tournament committee were eager to get to the quarter-final stage by the end of the week, so, on the same day, after some lunch, I came out to beat Italian Pietro Marzano [6-1, 6-0, 8-6],” he said.

“I then played Stan Smith, the 6’4” big-hitter, who was rapidly improving and I had a tough match against him a month later at Wimbledon. He had a cold, it was cold and the match finished in drizzle. I didn’t want it to be carried over to the next morning [again], so I worked hard in the third set [for a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win].”

Laver, who first travelled to compete in Paris in 1956, had to learn to play on clay, and prior to 1962, when he won his first calendar-year Grand Slam, had a 6-5 match record at the championship. “I had to learn to play on clay,” said Laver. “I’ve always believed that the key to playing well on clay is having patience and strength in your legs. It is all about accuracy over speed as clay blunts serve power, but it’s an exciting test of your abilities. To me, the importance of getting first serves in was key, as I didn’t have a cannonball serve, but I did fire the occasional ace.”

You May Also Like: Laver’s Grand Slam: 1969 Australian Open, 50 Years On

Through to the quarter-finals in 1969, Laver then waited on Gimeno, who shook off nerves to edge past 1961 and 1964 champion Manuel Santana, who had pulled a groin muscle in lunging for a ball in the fourth set. “Perhaps the victory in the previous round, helped him to win the first set against me, but I got down to work by keeping the ball low, slicing my backhand and heading to the net. Slicing was more often the best form of attack, giving you time to approach the net. You didn’t think Gimeno ever thought he could beat you, but he gave a good show and I won in four sets [3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3].”

Laver then challenged Tom Okker, a terrifically quick Dutchman with fast reflexes and a hitter of big topspin strokes. “This was early Okker, but he won the first set and I knew that I had to dig in,” says Laver. “By then, I’d sharpened my anticipation and remember half-volleying well and taking the net away from him to win [4-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-4].”

In a re-match of the 1968 Roland Garros final, the sport’s two best players came face-to-face once more for the 75th time – through amateur, pro tour and Open Eras. In the 11th edition of their clay-court rivalry, Laver, who had beaten Ken Rosewall two weeks earlier, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 at the Dutch Pro Championships, was totally focused as they walked through the dark tunnel in the bowels of the stadium and out onto the main show court. Rosewall had defeated 1966 titlist Tony Roche 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

“I played him in the final the year before, when he beat me in four sets,” says Laver. “So I just knew that I had to change my game a little bit. I decided I was going to hit my groundstrokes, heavy groundstrokes and pressure him when I could. Bill Tilden always used to say, “Never change a winning game.” I always knew that a player who played cautiously after building up a lead took a risk, so I’d tend to go hard for the first point of a game, and the first two games of every set.”

During the 1969 Roland Garros final, Laver’s groundstroke length kept 1953 champion Rosewall under pressure to force errors. Rosewall was simply unable to pounce on any short ball with his backhand and hit the net to produce crisp, well angled volleys. Laver knew, anything less than keeping his long-time rival behind the baseline and he was in trouble.

“It all worked for me,” said Laver, who collected $7,000 in prize money. “I was timing the ball perfectly that day, perfect control from game one. That’s what it takes to win any match. I led 3-1, then went 3-4 down in the first set, but came through 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 [in one hour and 33 minutes]. I think Ken felt that I played him better on instinct. My form stayed all the way through.”

Laver would later see a 4-3, 40/0 advantage evaporate in the fifth set of the Roland Garros doubles final with Emerson against John Newcombe and Roche, who won the 13 straight points for the match. But Laver was halfway to the Grand Slam, seven years on from his first in 1962, having conquered the most physically demanding championship.

“A Grand Slam year starts in January and ends in September; from the Australian Open and ends with the US Open,” said Laver. “You have to win 28 matches, not beat 128 players in every draw. While I knew Wimbledon and the US Open would be tricky, the dream was alive.”

Coming up in July 2019: Laver Reflects On 1969 Wimbledon

Source link