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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Articles tagged: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal not sure if he will play in US Open due to ‘unrealistic’ schedule

Rafael Nadal

The ATP Tour has been on suspension since March, which has led to a complete change in the tennis calendar.

The US Open is planning to run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 in New York. Wimbledon cancelled the event entirely because they were able to cash in on an insurance policy. But the French Open, which typically runs from late May to early June, has been postponed to Sept. 26 to Oct. 11. That means there will only be two weeks between the majors, which puts a lot of pressure on the players.

First off, many players like to have a break between majors if they can. In the current schedule, there will be Masters events in between. Secondly, the majors are on two different surfaces — hard courts for the US Open and clay courts for the French Open. Many players who are not clay court specialists like to play in several clay court “tune-up” tournaments before the major to get used to it. This schedule doesn’t really allow that opportunity.

That’s why Toni Nadal, the uncle/longtime former coach of Rafael Nadal, calls the 2020 schedule “unrealistic” and says Rafa might miss one of the events.

“I have spoken to Rafa and he is doubting which tournaments to play,” Toni told ESPN Deportes.

“The schedule is unrealistic, especially for veteran players, who cannot compete for so many weeks in a row.

“I think it is a bit ugly what the ATP has done. This decision is totally against players like Rafa and Novak Djokovic.”

Roger Federer has the most majors in men’s singles tennis with 20, while Nadal is one behind and Djokovic is at 17. Rafa is the defending champion for both the US and French Opens and might not defend his title at one, which would be the US Open given his historic dominance at Roland Garros.

All three players are in competition to win the most ever, so this schedule is not anywhere near favorable to that pursuit.

Rafael Nadal wants Daniil Medvedev to slow down in US Open final

Rafael Nadal shoes

Rafael Nadal is a notoriously slow player on the tennis courts, and the issue of pace came up again during the US Open final on Sunday between him and Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev was serving to start the fifth set of the championship match and was leading 40-15. His first serve was a let and he wanted to attempt his next serve. Nadal asked him to slow down, complaining that he couldn’t hear anything.

What did Nadal need to hear? Bianca Andreescu also complained that the crowd noise in the women’s final prevented her from being able to hear herself think, so maybe Nadal had a similar issue.

Medvedev won the point to go up 1-0 in the deciding set.

Nadal took the first two sets before Medvedev rallied to win the next two and send things to a deciding set.

Roger Federer has always played at a good pace and complained about slow players before, leaving both Nadal and Novak Djokovic to respond. It’s no surprise the issue resurfaced for Nadal on a big stage Sunday.

Rafael Nadal did not like US Open fans booing Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal stood up for fellow top men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Nadal is set to take on Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals of the US Open. He is the only member of the “big three” remaining in the tournament after Djokovic lost in the fourth round to Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer was defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in five sets.

Djokovic’s exit was controversial due to his retirement after being down two sets and trailing in the third set when he decided he could no longer continue. Djokovic received boos from the US Open fans, which did not sit well with Nadal.

“I believe that he’s a super athlete,” Nadal said of Djokovic Monday night. “If he had to go is because he was not able to continue at all. For him is much more painful than for anyone on that Arthur Ashe Stadium. He missed an opportunity to win another Grand Slam.”

Nadal is right; there is no way Djokovic wanted to miss out on a grand slam opportunity. Nole was dealing with a shoulder injury prior to the tournament and was bothered by it in the early rounds of the major. The question some are wondering is why he didn’t make it through four more games to give Wawrinka a clean win. Why did he choose to retire when he did? Nadal’s point seems to be, don’t concern yourself with those issues; if Djokovic could have kept competing, he would have.

Rafael Nadal: Playing in front of Tiger Woods is ‘honor’

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal won his fourth round match at the US Open on Monday night, and he captured victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium that included one very special guest: Tiger Woods.

Woods and Nadal are both Nike-sponsored athletes in individual sports and among the best players in the history of their games. Tiger was really getting into things while cheering on his buddy:

Nadal, who beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, was asked in his post-match interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what it was like playing in front of Woods. Nadal was effusive with his praise for Woods.

“For me it’s a huge honor. To play in front of all of [the fans] is a huge honor, but to play in front of Tiger for me is a very special thing,” Nadal said. “I always said I never had big idols, but I have to say one idol is him. I always try to follow every shot he hit during the whole year. For me it’s a big pleasure to have him here supporting, means a lot. He’s a big legend of his sport, one of the legends of the sport. I want to congratulate him on one of the most amazing comebacks ever, winning the Masters this year.”

Rinaldi then asked Rafa if the two had ever played golf together, leading to a joke from the Spaniard.

“It’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing.”

Woods was watching the match from a suite in the stadium. He was joined by his son, daughter and girlfriend Erica Herman.

The quarterfinals of the major are now set. Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a shot at reaching the semifinals.

Nick Kyrgios not apologizing for trying to hit Rafael Nadal with ball

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios is not apologizing for trying to hit Rafael Nadal with a ball during their match at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Nadal received a difficult draw in the tournament, which included playing the talented yet volatile Kyrgios in the second round. Rafa prevailed in four sets 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, but the match did not come without plenty of drama.

Kyrgios twice out-witted Rafa with underhand serves, taking advantage of Nadal playing so far behind the baseline to return his serves, and won both points. He was held up by the umpire when he wanted to serve at times due to Nadal not being ready.

Then in the third set, the real drama occurred. Nadal was serving at 4-4 up 40-15 and approached the net following a short return by Kyrgios. His approach shot put Kyrgios in the corner, and rather than go cross court, up the line, or try a lob, Kyrgios just whacked the ball directly at Rafa.

Nadal was nearly hit by the fireball but got his racket up to block it. He glared at Kyrgios afterwards to express his displeasure with the unsportsmanlike act.

After the match, Kyrgios admitted he was aiming for Nadal and said he wouldn’t apologize for doing so.

“Why should I apologize? Dude’s got how many slams? How much money in the bank? I think he can take a ball in the chest. I’m not going to apologize to him at all. I was going for him, yeah. I wanted to hit him square in the chest,” Kyrgios said.

Nadal said that such a shot was dangerous because when you hit the ball that hard, you don’t necessarily know where it’s going and it could hit a fan, umpire, or ballperson on the court.

The two have a negative history. Kyrgios upset Nadal at Wimbledon five years ago. He also beat Nadal in Acapulco earlier this year. After the loss, Nadal said Kyrgios was an underachiever who lacks respect.

“He is a player who has huge talent, who could be winning Grand Slams or fighting for first position in the rankings,” Nadal said. “He lacks respect for the public, the opponent and himself.”

Kyrgios dismissed the comments, saying Nadal was salty.

Aiming for Nadal on a shot and not apologizing straight up shows Kyrgios’ disrespect. The spirit of the sport isn’t to try and nail your opponent with the ball, but to hit it past them for a winner. It’s these types of actions and worse that have earned Kyrgios his negative reputation on tour and among the fans.

Rafael Nadal retires from US Open semifinals match

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Rafael Nadal retired from his semifinals match against Juan Martin Del Potro after two sets on Friday.

Nadal announced his plan to retire to the chair umpire after approaching him about a line call during the sixth game of the second set. The Spaniard still managed to serve his way through the game to make it 2-4 in the second, but Del Potro held serve at love on the ensuing game. Nadal attempted to hold his serve down 2-5 in the second but was broken to drop the set. He also lost the first set 7-6 in a tiebreaker and was down two sets to none.

Nadal appeared to be having trouble with his right knee and even pointed to it while explaining to Del Potro his reason for retiring. He had it taped during the match and did not appear to be moving to the best of his abilities.

The outcome was not too surprising after what Nadal went through in his quarterfinals match. Nadal somehow outlasted Dominic Thiem in five sets in the quarters despite being bageled in the first set. The match lasted nearly five hours, did not finish until Wednesday morning, and was the longest of Nadal’s US Open career.

Del Potro awaits the winner of the Kei Nishikori-Novak Djokovic match in the finals.

Ben Stiller cheered on Rafael Nadal from player’s box during epic match

Ben Stiller

Rafael Nadal’s player’s box for his thrilling 5-setter on Tuesday night at the US Open had a very special guest.

Actor Ben Stiller was among those in the VIP seating section at Arthur Ashe Stadium, joining Nadal’s family and support team as the Spaniard battled Dominic Thiem in an epic 5-set match.

Stiller felt the intensity of the match and was often seen displaying the kind of nerves he had while taking his lie detector test in “Meet the Parents.”

He was sitting a row away from Nadal’s girlfriend, Xisca Perelló.

Stiller is a big tennis fan and took in some matches at the US Open with his ex-wife and their daughter earlier in the week. He returned to cheer on Nadal for the nearly five-hour quarterfinal match.

Stiller and Nadal go way back, as the actor has participated in charity tennis events with Nadal in the past.