Sports Nadal: Madrid loss a step backward ahead of French Open

03:15  08 may  2021
03:15  08 may  2021 Source:   thecanadianpress.com

Nadal beats Norrie in 2 sets to move into Barcelona semis

  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.

a person that is standing in the dark © Provided by The Canadian Press

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

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“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)

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic are posing for a picture: Rafael Nadal, 33, and Novak Djokovic, 32, have been neck and neck throughout their careers. In 54 matches, Djokovic has the slight lead with 28 wins, but Nadal has the advantage when it comes to Grand Slam meetings, with a 9-6 record. The Spaniard also has two more career Grand Slam titles (18), though at the rate Djokovic is going, that could soon change. In March 2019, Djokovic said of Nadal and Federer: “I have a good relationship with both of them. We always respected each other. We are rivals of course so it’s hard to be friends.”

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.”

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“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.”


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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.

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