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Medvedev On Defending St. Petersburg Title: 'There Is Some Pressure'

  • Posted: Oct 11, 2020

At last year’s St. Petersburg Open, Daniil Medvedev ended a 15-year title drought for Russian players at the event by lifting his first trophy on home soil.

The World No. 5 returns to the ATP 500 this year seeking to successfully defend an ATP Tour crown for the first time in his career. As the top seed and defending champion, the Moscow native is placing some pressure on his shoulders as he attempts to snap a three-match losing streak.

“Naturally, [as defending champion] there is some pressure, of course… If I show good tennis, I will have a good result,” said Medvedev. “I can play tennis, and if something doesn’t go well, then you can lose, so it’s a pressure on myself that you can feel during the match.”

Medvedev is joined in St. Petersburg by a stellar field of ATP Tour stars. The 32-man draw features five members of the Top 20 with each of the eight seeds present in the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“Judging by the draw, the lineup is very strong… I [have] got a difficult draw, but sometimes it’s better to start a tournament with tough opponents,” said Medvedev. “I will have to show my best game at the tournament from the get-go. In any case, I always have a philosophical attitude towards the draw. I can’t change its results, so I am just preparing for my next opponent. I hope to show a good [level of] tennis.”

Medvedev will open his title bid against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman is making his return to St. Petersburg 11 years after losing in the first round to Marat Safin on his tournament debut.

Seven-time tour-level titlist Medvedev will be attempting to claim his first win against Gasquet in his second ATP Head2Head contest against the 34-year-old. Gasquet won their only previous encounter 6-0, 6-3 at the 2018 Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

“I will try to train as much as possible to prepare for the tournament… It seems to me that two or three days are enough to be ready to play the tournament when you are switching from clay to hard, so I feel that I am ready. [We] will see during the matches but I think I’ll be 100 per cent ready.”

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Nadal Clinches Historic Win At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Oct 11, 2020

Rafael Nadal sensationally won a historic 13th Roland Garros crown under a closed roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday, which also marked his 100th match win at the clay-court major championship.

The Spaniard superstar won a tactical masterclass against World No. 1 and 2016 titlist Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to capture a record-equalling 20th major single trophy, to drawing level with all-time leader Roger Federer.

Nadal combatted Djokovic’s ploy to drop shot and force the Spaniard into the net, with groundstroke depth and a willingness to strike forehand winners on the run to keep the World No. 1 behind the baseline. Through two sets, Nadal had committed just eight unforced errors to put Djokovic under extreme pressure in their 56th ATP Head2Head meeting.

Djokovic first-serve winning percentage improved significantly in a high-quality third set, from as low as 30 per cent in the first set, and he became a different player when he broke Nadal for the first time at 2-3. Djokovic started to mix up his tactics and, on occasion, serve and volleyed, but struck his fourth double fault at 5-5, 30/40, to hand Nadal’s a golden chance for his historic victory in Paris. Nadal finished with an ace, his third of the encounter.

Nadal’s victory in their ninth Grand Slam championship final was his first over Djokovic since May 2019 in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final in Rome. The 34-year-old, who improves to a 22-4 record on the 2020 season, is now just one match win away from becoming the fourth player to record 1,000 career victories — and joining Jimmy Connors (1,274), Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068).

Djokovic, who had been attempting to clinch his 18th major crown, is now 37-2 on the season, which includes four titles at the Australian Open (d. Thiem), the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas), the Western & Southern Open held in New York (d. Raonic) and Rome (d. Schwartzman).

Djokovic’s slice and drop shot was a real weapon, initially, and he led 40/15 in the opening game, but Nadal played close to the lines and worked his way back to break, courtesy of a backhand wide down the line. Nadal settled, appearing to consistently target Djokovic’s backhand to open up the court. The Spaniard’s early sharpness reaped dividends with a second service break for a 3-0 advantage, when Djokovic hit a crosscourt backhand into the net at 30/40.

In a huge fourth game, Nadal dug deep to save three break points through sheer variation of his groundstrokes, forcing Djokovic each time to run the width of the court. Djokovic led 40/15 in his next service game, but Nadal won four straight points and took a 5-0 lead, with a powerful backhand winner on his third break point.

Interestingly, both times Nadal hit a drop shot in the first set, Djokovic re-dropped and won the point. Djokovic, who set the tone with four drop shots in the first game, hit three of his 11 drop shots in the net. In total, Djokovic seven of 11 points in which he hit a drop shot, while Nadal was 0-2 in first set.

There was no let up for Djokovic, who won 30 per cent of his first-serve points in the first set and came under extreme pressure in the first game of the second set. He managed to save three break points and it appeared a big psychological hold, but Nadal was ruthless on the run in Djokovic’s next service game at 1-1. A sensational backhand slice winner from inside the service box across Djokovic, who hit a drop shot, gave Nadal a third break point.

Nadal broke when Djokovic struck a backhand into the net and soon took a double-break advantage, with a 4-1 lead after a routine forehand from Djokovic bounced off the net and wide. In the sixth game of the second set, Djokovic’s seventh service game, he did not face a break point for the first time. But Nadal wasn’t to be denied, closing out the 47-minute set on his third set point.

Through two sets, 18 of the 21 drop shots in the match have come off the backhand wing. Nadal has hit three drop shots, and lost all three points. Djokovic won four of seven drop shots in the second set.

Djokovic’s first serve percentage improved, up to 51 per cent in the third set, but mistakes continued to cost the Serbian, who was broken to love at 2-2 after two consecutive forehands errors. Minutes later, Djokovic converted his second break point with a backhand approach winner behind Nadal, for his first service break of the match. The World No. 1 sparked into life, appearing quicker up the court and laterally to wide groundstrokes. On occasion, Djokovic serve and volleyed, but Nadal remained calm and took care of his own serves. Just as the set appeared to be heading to a tie-break, Djokovic struck his fourth double fault to hand Nadal an opportunity to serve for a historic victory.

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