Sports Nadal: Madrid loss a step backward ahead of French Open
Nadal beats Norrie in 2 sets to move into Barcelona semis
BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal brushed aside Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-4 to ease into the semifinals of the Barcelona Open on Friday and moved closer to a record-extending 12th title at the event. After Nadal breezed through the first set, Britain’s Norrie won back a break in the second. Nadal, however, took the advantage right back and closed it out when he converted on a second match point by smashing a forehand just inside the line. “I had a good first set, dominating with my drive and moving the ball around,” Nadal said. “In the second set I let up a bit and …. I need to make sure that doesn’t happen tomorrow.
MADRID — Rafael Nadal’s good run preparing for the French Open has suddenly hit a speed bump.
Nadal’s quarterfinal loss to Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open on Friday came as an unexpected setback in a week in which the king of clay said he was feeling good about his game.
“Negative feelings because this was an important week for me,” Nadal said. “I had been progressing, but sometimes when you are going up the stairs you may take a step backward, and that’s what happened today.”
Nadal lost to No. 6-ranked Zverev 6-4, 6-4 after comfortable wins against up-and-comers Carlos Alcaraz and Alexei Popyrin.
Nadal outlasts Tsitsipas to win Barcelona Open for 12th time
BARCELONA, Spain — Knowing he is still far from his best, Rafael Nadal just kept grinding it out. He found a way Sunday to overcome lost opportunities in the Barcelona Open final and escape defeat while facing a red-hot opponent. Nadal won his first title of the year, squandering a couple of match points and then saving one on his way to beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5. Nadal secured his record 12th title at the clay-court tournament by converting on his third match point to cap a satisfying victory. It had been a lacklustre start to the season for the third-ranked Nadal after he didn't play much last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The entire week I did things well, both in training and in the matches,” Nadal said. “Today again, but when it counted, in the decisive moments, I did everything wrong.”
Nadal has been trying to regain his best form after not playing much because of the coronavirus pandemic. He got off to a slow start on clay by his standards, being eliminated by Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo then won the Barcelona Open after dropping multiple sets through that week. At the start of the year at the Australian Open, he lost in the quarterfinals.
He will attempt to win a 10th Italian Open next week to complete his buildup for a 14th French Open trophy.
Gallery: The most heated rivalries in the tennis world (Espresso)
He said he was frustrated on Friday because he felt like he played better than Zverev at times but could not take advantage of his chances. He felt like he let the quarterfinal slip away by making “too many unjustified mistakes.”
Benzema denies Chelsea to remind Perez of Real Madrid's proud Champions League pedigree
After falling behind to Christian Pulisic's opener, the 13-time champions of Europe were dragged back into the semi-final tie by their French forwardAfter a remarkable week in which Real Madrid president Florentino Perez tried to change the future of football, it took a brilliant goal from Karim Benzema to snap los Blancos back to reality on Tuesday night and remind them that there is plenty to fight for in the present.
“It was a different match than the one against Rublev (in Monte Carlo), when the conditions favoured me. Here there was a sensation that I was not in control of things, so when you lose it feels like things are worse than they really are.”
Nadal said he doesn't enjoy the faster pace in Madrid, prompted by the high altitude in the Spanish capital, even though he's won the tournament five times.
Nadal still tried to look on the bright side.
“It was a week with many positive things. I did a lot of things well in training,” he said. “I leave Madrid with good sensations in general, but with a bad sensation of having played a match like today.”
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
Djokovic outlasts Tsitsipas in ‘toughest match' of year .
ROME (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic regained his cool after throwing his racket off the court in a grueling, rain-delayed 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 quarterfinal victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Italian Open on Saturday. Djokovic fought back from breaks of his serve in each of the final two sets to reach his eighth consecutive semifinal at the Foro Italico — where he has lifted the trophy five times, most recently last September when the tournament was moved to later in the year because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m just really, really glad to overcome this challenge,” Djokovic said. "It’s probably the toughest match of the year for me so far.