Tennis News

From around the world

It's One-Way Traffic On L’Avenue Rafael Nadal

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

It’s One-Way Traffic On L’Avenue Rafael Nadal

12-time champ gets more dominant deeper into matches at Roland Garros

From 2005 to 2019, Rafael Nadal has lifted 12 titles and won 93 of his 95 matches at Roland Garros. If the city of Paris dedicated a street to their adopted Spanish son, it would be apropos to make sure it went only one way.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of how Nadal performs in each of the five possible sets identifies a competitor who explodes fast out of the blocks in set one and morphs into a runaway train by set three. The data set includes players who have played a minimum of 10 matches at Roland Garros since official statistics were first recorded in 1991.

Set One
Ready, set, gone.

Facing Nadal on Paris’ terre battue is one of sport’s greatest challenges. The Spaniard does not give opponents time to get a feel for the clay, the stadium or the moment. He jumps on them immediately, attempting to end the contest before it becomes one.

Nadal has won 65.4 per cent (559/855) of games played in the opening set since his tournament debut in 2005. In 2019, the opening set scorelines in his seven matches were 6-2, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 and 6-3. That is 42 games won and 13 games lost, good for a head-turning 76 per cent winning margin.

The leading five players with the highest percentage of games won in set one at Roland Garros are:

Rank Player Percentage Of Games Won Games Won/Played
1 Rafael Nadal 65.4% 559/855
2 Goran Prpic 62.4% 53/85
3 Jim Courier 61.7% 232/376
4 Novak Djokovic 60.8% 474/780
5 David Ferrer 60.6% 329/543

Set Two
Set two represents second gear as Nadal moves up another level to create a wider margin between himself and his opponents. Nadal has won 66.2 per cent (561/848) of games in the second set, showing no signs of letting up and allowing opponents an opportunity to level the match.

The leading five players with the highest percentage of games won in set two at Roland Garros are:

Rank Player Percentage Of Games Won Games Won/Played
1 Rafael Nadal 66.2% 561/848
2 Damir Dzumhur 62.6% 57/91
3 Oscar Hernandez 62.5% 60/96
4 Bernd Karbacher 61.8% 94/152
5 Arnaud Boetsch 60.1% 101/168

Set Three
With the finish line now squarely in sight, Nadal keeps ramping up the pressure, winning an astonishing 68.4 per cent (551/805) of games in set three. Opponents have to endure a fast start and a faster finish against the Spaniard. Close to 80 per cent of Nadal’s matches at Roland Garros have been decided in straight sets.

The leading five players with the highest percentage of games won in set three at Roland Garros are:

Rank Player Percentage Of Games Won Games Won/Played
1 Rafael Nadal 68.4% 551/805
2 Boris Becker 67.7% 65/96
3 Juan Carlos Ferrero 62.3% 230/369
4 Juan Martin del Potro 61.4% 156/254
5 Kyle Edmund 61.4% 62/101

Set Four
Nadal sits in fourth place with games won in the fourth set, winning a strong 64.4% (123/191). Carl-Uwe Steeb leads the pack at 70.6 per cent (12/17).

Set Five
Nadal has only been extended to five sets at Roland Garros twice, winning both times. He has won 57.7 per cent (15/26) of games in the fifth set. David Goffin is the overall leader in fifth-set games won at 78.9 per cent (30/38).

Nadal’s Five-Set Matches At Roland Garros

Year Round Result Score
2013 Semi-Final d. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7
2011 First Round d. John Isner 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4

Nadal has won an astonishing 57.5 per cent (9829/17080) of points at Roland Garros. It’s the closest thing to one-way traffic our sport has ever seen.

Source link

Flashback: Verkerk Earns Marathon Victory To Continue Dream Run

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

Flashback: Verkerk Earns Marathon Victory To Continue Dream Run

Dutchman clinched semi-final spot after three hours and 52 minutes

When Martin Verkerk arrived at Roland Garros in 2003, the Dutchman was searching for his first victory at a Grand Slam event after first-round losses on his tournament debuts at the 2002 US Open and 2003 Australian Open.

The 24-year-old entered the event in the best form of his career, having reached the semi-finals in St. Poelten and the quarter-finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia earlier in the month. But, despite his form, Verkerk could not have expected what followed in Paris.

After a first-round win against Zeljko Krajan, the 6’5” right-hander survived a five-set battle against Luis Horna, came from a set down to beat Vincent Spadea and stunned World No. 11 Rainer Schuettler to reach the only Grand Slam quarter-final of his career. In fact, it was the only time the World No. 46 advanced beyond the third round at a Grand Slam event.

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

Waiting in the last eight was 1998 champion Carlos Moya, the winner of clay-court titles in Barcelona and Buenos Aires earlier in the year. The Spaniard had also dropped three sets en route to the last eight, highlighted by his five-set battle against Juan Ignacio Chela in the third round.

In his first ATP Head2Head meeting against the World No. 4, Verkerk showed no signs of nerves. The Dutchman gained early breaks in both the first and second sets and maintained his advantage on both occasions with consistent power and accuracy on his serve.

Moya had twice come from two sets down to reach a fifth set at Roland Garros, and the Spaniard’s greater experience paid off at the end of the third set. Serving under pressure at 5-6, Verkerk committed a double fault to hand Moya a route back into the match. The Mallorcan also applied pressure on his opponent late in the fourth set, breaking serve for a second time to force the quarter-final to a deciding set.

Each of the opening four sets was decided by a single break, and the final set would be no different. After 12 consecutive holds, the animated Dutchman fired multiple forehand winners to earn the opportunity to serve for the match at 7-6. Verkerk fist pumped and gave a wide-eyed stare to his player box.

Martin Verkerk beat Carlos Moya in five sets to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros in 2003.

In the biggest game of his life, so far, Verkerk relied on his greatest weapon to help him across the line. The tournament debutant landed his 27th and final ace, before closing the match out 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 8-6 with a powerful serve into Moya’s backhand. Verkerk raised his arms and fell to the clay in disbelief.

The Milan titlist went on to defeat Guillermo Coria in straight sets to become the first player since Mikael Pernfors in 1986 to reach the championship match on his tournament debut.

“This is a dream. This is actually a bit of a joke. I don’t know anymore what happened to me,” said Verkerk.

The Dutchman’s dream run came to an end with a straight-sets loss to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final. Verkerk lifted two trophies from four tour-level finals, before retiring from the sport in 2008.

Source link

Frances Tiafoe: World number 81 says athletes don't appreciate the influence they have

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

American Frances Tiafoe – whose video protesting about the death of George Floyd has been widely viewed – says athletes do not always appreciate the influence they have.

The 22-year-old, a quarter-finalist at the 2019 Australian Open, posted an Instagram video also featuring Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff.

In the video, Tiafoe and his girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield, put their racquets down and raise their hands to “spread awareness about the unjust deaths of many African-Americans”.

Widespread protests have taken place across 75 US cities since Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after being pinned down by a white police officer.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with his murder. He and three other police officers have been sacked.

“Sportsmen have a lot, a lot of pull, and I think we don’t even realise how much it really is,” Tiafoe, the son of Sierra Leonean immigrants, told Newsday on the BBC World Service.

“We start trends: people want to be like a LeBron James, like a Michael Jordan, like a Roger Federer, so when they go and say something, people are going to listen. And those are the things that can really make changes. If they really speak out and make a difference, I think things can happen.”

The video is set to the song Glory. It was written and performed by John Legend and the rapper Common for the film Selma, which documented aspects of the 1960s US civil rights movement.

Sloane Stephens, Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfred Tonga and Britain’s Heather Watson also appear in the film, raising their hands.

Tiafoe says he was very certain of his feelings, but in two minds whether to speak out publicly.

“It’s a fine line, you’d have to say. I was 50-50 with getting it out, but I’m happy I did it in the end. There was definitely a tug of war, but sometimes it’s bigger than that, which this case was,” he said.

“You see all the riots going through the United States. It needed to be said. The way things are going right now we definitely need change.”

He was ultimately persuaded by his girlfriend that a collective statement was the right thing to do.

“I think it was important to portray the power that black tennis players have,” Ayan said.

“I think that a lot of the time we forget how much we can accomplish when we come together. We were amazed that Serena, Naomi, Coco, Sloane, Monfils were so open to stand with us.

“Everyone has really big platforms, so the fact that we are able to share it on such a wide level was incredible.”

Osaka and Gauff have also made their feelings clear in other ways.

Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, posted a photo of herself apparently among protestors in Minneapolis and another of the memorial to Floyd.

Gauff, who is just 16, appeared on TikTok wearing a black hoodie as the names and photos of African-Americans killed by police are revealed on the screen.

“Am I next?” the caption reads, as she raises her hands.

“I’m using my voice. Will you use yours?”

Source link

Ferrero On 2003 Roland Garros Title: 'It Was One Of The Greatest Things I Ever Did'

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

Ferrero On 2003 Roland Garros Title: ‘It Was One Of The Greatest Things I Ever Did’ speaks exclusively to the Spaniard about his triumph

Juan Carlos Ferrero wasted little time showing his prowess on the Parisian terre battue of Roland Garros. In his first three appearances at the clay-court Grand Slam, the Spaniard reached the semi-finals twice, and then the championship match in 2002. Backed by a potent forehand and undeniable speed, Ferrero was clearly on the verge of a breakthrough.

“It was one of the tournaments that from when I was 14, 15, it was my dream to go there to play,’ Ferrero told “Winning that tournament at the end, it was one of the greatest things that I ever did in my tennis career.”

Ferrero wasn’t able to simply waltz across the clay to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires in 2003, though. Although he was one of the leading contenders, Ferrero had withdrawn from his Rome semi-final against Roger Federer while trailing by a set and a break due to an arm issue.

“If his arm is not 100 per cent, there’s no way he can go out and win against the best clay-courters in the world over the course of two weeks and seven matches,” former World No. 11 MaliVai Washington wrote for ESPN at the time.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

But Ferrero did not compete between Rome and Roland Garros, opting to focus on his preparations for the season’s second major.

“Of course it’s something that I did to be safe. When you have some pain before the tournament, you have to take care of it a lot,” Ferrero said. “In that moment, I had a very important tournament [coming up] and always you try to be safe and calm in that moment and try to care for the situation.”

Perhaps Ferrero’s biggest roadblock came in the quarter-finals against a well-known rival. Five years earlier, big-hitting Chilean Fernando Gonzalez defeated Ferrero to win the Roland Garros boys’ singles title. He’d also won the pair’s first two ATP Head2Head meetings, both of which came within nine months of their Parisian battle.

“It was one of the toughest matches that I had in the tournament,” Ferrero said. “Playing Fernando Gonzalez was always special for me because we played many times in the juniors. We played many battles, and obviously he was a very good player on clay.”

Ferrero needed three hours and 29 minutes across five sets, but he was able to manouevre past Gonzalez. Both men won 181 points, and Gonzalez refused to go down without letting loose his powerful groundstrokes, but Ferrero refused to be denied.

The Spaniard was relentless, earning 29 break points and breaking eight times. Ferrero converted his sixth match point, falling to his knees after Gonzalez missed a backhand long.

“It was a very good match,” Ferrero said. “It was one of the keys of the tournament.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

Ferrero then faced another familiar foe in countryman Albert Costa. In the 2002 Roland Garros final, Ferrero got off to a disheartening start against his compatriot. Although he was favoured against then-World No. 22 Costa, it was the underdog who sprinted through the first two sets with the loss of just one game. That deficit proved too large for Ferrero to overcome.

But having been pushed to five sets in four of his first five matches, Costa couldn’t replicate a similar performance, and Ferrero moved within one match of Paris glory once again.

On 8 June 2003, Ferrero was ready to make his mark in tennis’ record books. It wasn’t that he had forgotten about the previous year’s final; he simply believed he was ready for the challenge of facing Dutchman Martin Verkerk.

“I was very prepared. I checked all Verkerk’s matches and he beat some of the favourites like Guillermo Coria and even Carlos Moya, so I watched his game and tried to study his weaknesses. I had a lot of confidence in myself,” Ferrero said. “Everybody was telling me that I was the favourite in the match and that didn’t help me stay very calm, but I was 23. At that time, I was able to manage very well the pressure.”

Ferrero never let slip his guard. He fell behind by a break in the second set, but immediately recovered. The Spaniard was clearly in control of the match, forcing the typically offensive Verkerk on the back foot in rallies. He never let his mind float towards lifting the trophy.

“You’re trying to not think too much about this during the match. But in the third set, when I was two breaks up and serving at the end of the third set, obviously I was able to think that it was almost impossible to lose that match,” Ferrero said. “I knew I had the opportunity to win it. I went into that last game trying to enjoy that moment with my people, with my coach, with my parents. Obviously it was one of the best moments that I had.”

Watch over 165 classic ATP Tour matches from the 90s

‘El Mosquito’ had few hiccups in the match, breaking seven times en route to a convincing victory. Ferrero crushed an inside-in forehand winner on match point against Verkerk to clinch his first Grand Slam triumph 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, falling to his knees in celebration.

“I remember that of course before I was a bit nervous, but I had the experience already to play in a Grand Slam final and I played many matches with this kind of pressure,” Ferrero said. “I knew that I was prepared to try to fight for the title.”

Ferrero went on to reach No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings just months later on 8 September. Although he never earned Grand Slam glory again, Ferrero will always fondly look back on his unforgettable fortnight in Paris in 2003.

“I like very much watching tennis on TV and in some of the free moments that I have, I try to come back to that time to see matches that I had against great players that I played. Of course, one of the matches I watched many times is the final of that tournament,” Ferrero said. “Definitely it was one of the best moments that I had in my career.”

Source link

Cecchinato On Djokovic Upset: 'I Think It's Changed My Life'

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

Cecchinato On Djokovic Upset: ‘I Think It’s Changed My Life’

Relive Cecchinato’s 2018 Roland Garros quarter-final win against Djokovic

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. this week reflects on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

Novak Djokovic and Marco Cecchinato entered the 2018 Roland Garros quarter-finals on completely different ends of the experience spectrum. But that didn’t stop the surprise Italian from springing a memorable upset on the Parisian clay.

Cecchinato, the No. 72 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings, arrived in France without a Grand Slam main draw win. The 25-year-old had tried to qualify for the clay-court major three times, failing on each occasion. Djokovic, however, won the 2016 Roland Garros title and was competing in his ninth straight quarter-final at the tournament.

“This is the best moment of my life,” Cecchinato said after beating David Goffin in the fourth round. “Maybe it’s a dream.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Cecchinato admitted that before playing the biggest match of his life he had nothing to lose. On the other hand, there was plenty of pressure on Djokovic.

The Serbian underwent right elbow surgery after the 2018 Australian Open, and he lost eight of 15 matches leading into Roland Garros. That made Djokovic hungry for a big result, and drawing Cecchinato in the quarter-finals seemed a good opportunity for the World No. 22 to reach the last four.

But Cecchinato stunned the former champion 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(11) to continue his dream run.

“I think it’s changed [my] life,” Cecchinato said of his efforts on the terre battue.

Cecchinato and Djokovic were familiar with each other from practising together in Monte Carlo. But while the Serbian was playing in his 40th Grand Slam quarter-final, Cecchinato was experiencing the pressure of the moment for the first time.

“He didn’t seem to be under the impression of the big stadium or big match,” Djokovic said. “He just held his nerves amazingly well in the important moments.”

Cecchinato, who had won his first ATP Tour title a month earlier in Budapest, appeared the more comfortable player as he earned a two-set lead. But Djokovic, still working himself into form, found rhythm and breezed through the third set and earned an early break in the fourth.

The stage was set for Djokovic to complete a tremendous comeback to show the world that he was “back”. Instead, Cecchinato saved three set points in the ensuing tie-break with great defence before hitting a backhand winner to clinch the biggest win of his career.

“We shared a moment after my victory. Novak is a very good person and is unbelievable,” Cecchinato said of the pair’s nice post-match embrace. “He told me, ‘Congrats, man, and it’s unbelievable for you, and good luck.’ It’s a dream for me.”

Cecchinato kept his semi-final against Dominic Thiem tight in the first two sets, but succumbed in three. For Djokovic, however, the loss served as a wake-up call, as he reached the final of the Fever-Tree Championships and then won Wimbledon.

“It’s never been hard for me to congratulate and hug an opponent that we just shared a great moment on the court. And the one that won deserved to win the match, and that was Marco today,” Djokovic said. “On the other hand, when you walk off the court, of course, it’s a hard one to swallow.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

Source link

34 Stats On Rafael Nadal's 34th Birthday

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2020

34 Stats On Rafael Nadal’s 34th Birthday

Nadal is the second-oldest player in the Top 10, trailing only 38-year-old Federer

In honour of Rafael Nadal’s 34th birthday, the ATP Tour is celebrating by reliving 34 facts, moments or memories that have made his tennis career spectacular thus far.

34 – Percentage of return games won for Nadal in his career.
33 – Age when the lefty finished 2019 as the oldest year-end World No. 1 in history.
32 – Consecutive matches won from 2008 Hamburg until 2008 Cincinnati, Nadal’s career-best winning streak.
31 – Number of matches Nadal won at Roland Garros before his first loss at the major in 2009.
30 – Age when Nadal was Spain’s flagbearer for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 
29 – Rafa’s age when he opened his Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar.
28th tour-level title came at the 2008 Fever-Tree Championships, setting up Nadal for his unforgettable Wimbledon run in which he defeated Roger Federer for his first trophy at The Championships.
27 – Number of Grand Slam finals Nadal has reached (19-8).
26 – Victories against Top 10 opponents at Roland Garros.
25 – Clay-court ATP Masters 1000 titles.
24 – Wins against Roger Federer (24-16)
23 – Age when the Spaniard won his 100th Grand Slam match at 2010 Roland Garros against Gianni Mina. He currently holds a 275-39 record at the majors. 100-17
22 – Age when Nadal first reached World No. 1 on 18 August 2008.
21 – Number of ATP 500 titles Nadal has won.
20 – Triumphs against World No. 1s, with his first coming as a 17-year-old at 2004 Miami against Federer.
19 – Grand Slam titles.
18 – Age when Nadal cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on 25 April 2005.
17 – 6-0 sets won at Roland Garros, where his record is 93-2.
16 – Years since winning his first title at 2004 Sopot.
15 – Age when Nadal won his first ATP Tour match at 2002 Mallorca against World No. 81 Ramon Delgado/Number of consecutive year-end Top 10 finishes.
14 – Number of year-end finishes inside the Top 5 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
13 – No. of Masters 1000 finals Nadal has played Djokovic in.
12 – Roland Garros titles.
11 – Most titles in a single season, which came in 2005.
10 – Number of wins before Nadal cracks the 1,000-victory mark in his career, joining Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068) as the only players to reach that milestone.
9 – Number of seasons Nadal has led the ATP Tour in percentage of return games won.
8 – Consecutive titles won at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters from 2005-2012.
7 – Clay-court titles in 2005, his most in a single season.
6 – Wins against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.
5 – Finishes atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings.
4 – Age when he began playing tennis with his uncle, Toni Nadal.
3 – Grand Slam titles won without losing a set, all at Roland Garros (2008, 2010, 2017).
2 – Losses at Roland Garros compared to 93 wins.
1 – Total weeks at World No. 1: 209.

Source link