The current head of the Spanish Tennis Federation has sent out an indirect message to Rafael Nadal, warning that his fellow Davis Cup team mates are “bothered” by his absence in a competition which they feel they already have little incentive to participate in.
Rafael Nadal booked his place in his fifth Miami Open final after seeing off Fabio Fognini in straight sets 6-1, 7-5 in one hour and 30 minutes.
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
The Spaniard looked solid as a rock on serve and did not face any break points throughout the match. The fifth seed raced away with the opening set as Fognini appeared to be hampered by an arm injury which prevented him from hitting through the ball. The Italian showed great resistance in the second set and continued to hold serve despite facing break points, but it always looked to be the case of when and not if he would drop serve. Nadal made the breakthrough he had been craving in the eleventh game and had no trouble closing out the match.
Rafael Nadal safely made his way through to the fourth round in Indian Wells after a hard fought 6-3, 7-5 victory over fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the heat of the day in the California desert.
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
The opening half of the first set was highly competitive but a break down on serve led to a loss of confidence for Verdasco as the first set ran away from him. Nadal squandered an early break advantage in the second set, but seven double faults in all and only managing to win three of 13 points on second serve came back to bite his opponent late on in the contest.
Roger Federer rolled back the clock and secured his 18th Grand Slam title, his first in four-and-a-half years, as he defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to win the 2017 Australian Open.
A break of serve mid-way through the set was all Federer required to take the opener and having never defeated the Swiss in a Slam final after dropping the opening set, it proved to be telling for Nadal. The Spaniard raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set, before his opponent did similar to him in set number three. The tides appeared to have turned as the ninth seed dominated the fourth set and the opening exchanges of the fifth after breaking Federer in the opening game. The 17th seed responded and fully deserved his victory, testing Nadal in each of his service games as he reeled off four games in row to comeback from a break down at 2-3 to win the set and the title.
Taking down the world number five Rafael Nadal proved to be a step too far for Illya Marchenko. Ranked at 94 in the world and having one of the best weeks of his career, the Ukrainian was too inconsistent as he lost 6-3, 6-4 in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semifinal clash.
Nadal Races Out Of The Blocks
This was the first meeting between the two players and the Spaniard used that to his advantage, capitalizing on Marchenko’s nervous and erratic opening to take a 3-0 lead. The start will have delighted Nadal and his fans as in recent years, he has become accustomed to lower ranked opponents playing above themselves, not fearing the challenge of playing the 14-time Grand Slam Champion.
The Ukrainian was competing in just his third ATP World Tour semifinal, a run which began with the terrific comeback against the fourth seed David Ferrer, a match which he won 6-7(8) 6-3 6-2. The straight sets victories which followed over Teymuraz Gabashvili and Jeremy Chardy left him brimming with confidence. We began to see the 28-year-old’s flashes of brilliance in his next service game, which he held to settle his nerves.
The Ukrainian Hangs In There
Having failed to make any inroads into Nadal’s service games, Marchenko found himself under pressure once more, producing an untimely double fault to trail 30-40 on serve. A net cord which came back on the former champion’s side let the Ukrainian off of the hook temporarily, but a roaring backhand down the line brought up another break point for Nadal. A put away volley at the net and a couple of missed returns secured an unlikely hold and a lifeline in the set.
First Set To Nadal
Consecutive holds from the two players left the former world number one serving for the opening set. Despite dropping the opening point, Nadal laid down heavy serving markers, securing the set by six games to three in just 34 minutes, all without dropping a point behind his first serve.
Second Set: Marchenko Shows His Mentality
After making little impact in the opening set, the world number 94 will have been eager to make a stronger start in the second, with the added boost of serving first. The opening points could have not gone worse for the server as loose errors saw him trail 15-40. Deep hitting and a half-volley put away from the right-hander helped to rescue the game and secure a vital hold of serve.
The Spaniard Takes Control
Nadal continued to remain untested on serve as he levelled the set at two games all, before he made a definitive move on his opponents serve. Marchenko’s game fell apart drastically as the errors poured from his racket, dropping serve to love.
The way Nadal had been serving, a comeback seemed unlikely, but poor shot selection allowed Marchenko to craft a break back chance at 30-40. That proved to be his final chance as the second seed shut the door through holding serve.
Marchenko forced Nadal to serve for the match, but a sixth ace and a couple of unreturnable serves put the result beyond doubt, securing a convincing straight sets victory 6-3, 6-4. He can now look forward to the challenge of facing either Tomas Berdych or Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s final.