Tag Archive: Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray clung on to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals - but the Spaniard made him work for it (Image | Reuters)

Andy Murray clung on to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals – but the Spaniard made him work for it (Image | Reuters)

Having not lost a set in Wimbledon 2013, Andy Murray would have felt confident coming up against a 29-year-old with a far from notable recent record. Fernando Verdasco gave the Scotsman the fright of his life on Centre Court this afternoon, but Murray continues to advance one step at a time towards that inevitable Final against Novak Djokovic.

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A sensational year in men’s tennis is drawing to a close, which has featured four separate Grand Slam winners and once again been dominated by the big four: Novak Djoković, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Champion | Novak Djoković lifts the ATP World Tour Finals trophy at the 02 Arena earlier this month. (Image | Yahoo)

With the ATP World Tour Finals having been won by the Serb earlier this month, it is time to look back on how each of the leading lights performed over the calendar year. It has been quite a 12 months after all.

Novak Djoković

After a record-breaking season last year, it would have been extremely optimistic to expect Djoković to remain at such an auspicious standard.

However, in the early part of the year, it appeared that he may be able to surpass his previous achievements. Particularly when the 25-year-old triumphed at the Australian Open in January, which was arguably the greatest tournament Melbourne has ever seen.

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Champion | Novak Djokovic stopped Roger Federer making it three ATP World Tour wins in a row at the O2 Arena. (Image | The Times)

World number one Novak Djokovic reclaimed his place at the pinnacle of tennis with a straight sets win over Roger Federer last night in a magnificent final lasting more than two hours.

The Serbian, who despite his ranking has had an altogether disappointing year, reminded fans everywhere just why he is its leading light in the (7-6, 7-5) triumph.

For there had been some debate after he went to the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open and returned empty-handed having set the pace early on in Australia.

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Weight of expectation | Andy Murray faces the entire tennis dreams of a nation (or a group of nations) every summer at the Wimbledon Championships. (Image | The Guardian)

Around Wimbledon time the whole of the United Kingdom is gripped by a sort of hopeless optimism and desperate, clinging hope that maybe, just maybe, this could be the year for Tim Henman. Or, for the past few years, Andy Murray. The British game is woefully inadequate in terms of the true title contenders and tennis greats it produces.

Rather than witnessing any great grass-roots success, we are given one gifted player who struggles under the inexorable weight of pressure to live up to our delusions of grandeur. Sounds all a bit too familiar to the malaise of English football, doesn’t it?

Or so we may have thought. However, already at Wimbledon 2012 we have learned a number of things. Firstly, Rafael Nadal is not unbeatable, as Lukas Rosol demonstrated. It appears as though there is a future for genuinely talented players in British tennis, and the green shoots of recovery are not confined to one gender.

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Moment of madness | David Nalbandian’s kick out at the line judge hit the headlines, and caused his disqualification from the Queen’s Club tournament. (Image | Metro)

The grass court season has begun in earnest after its traditional curtain raiser at Queen’s Club ended with the disqualification of Argentinian David Nalbandian in the final for injuring a line judge, writes James Schofield.

Queen’s saw a surprise winner in Marin Cilic. The sixth seed faced unseeded players right the way through to the final before Nalbandian’s frustration over an errant forehand was taken out in spectacular fashion, thus ending the tournament and handing Cilic his seventh career title. Nalbandian had been a set to the good before the his assault on an advertising hoarding left the line judge bleeding heavily from the shin.

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Momentous | Novak Djokovic was certainly made to work for his place in the semi-finals by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose strength and power always makes him a formidable opponent. (Image | The Telegraph)

Most tennis fans in Britain tend to view the French Open as the “warm-up tournament” for Wimbledon. A chance for the sport’s big names to flex their muscles (literally in the case of Rafael Nadal) in pursuit of the holy grail. A first class tennis tournament? Surely not.

Or so it may have seemed. Yesterday’s action served up two enthralling matches featuring the world number one, Novak Djokovic (pictured) and six-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer. Both these great champions will meet each other in the semi-finals, with the Serbian attempting to become only the third individual to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

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Novak Djokovic saw off the challenges of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in two games, comprising ten hours of unmissable tennis

Novak Djokovic’s triumph at the Australian Open cast in stone his reputation as the greatest tennis player in the world. He is, unquestionably, on the crest of a wave, enjoying success after success, title after title. Last year, Djokovic secured victories in the Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open finals, becoming the sixth male tennis player to win three grand slams in a year. Should Djokovic triumph at the French Open, which will require the Serbian to conquer insurmountable clay expert Rafael Nadal, winner of six of the past seven French Open titles, he would hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously, an extraordinary feat.

Djokovic’s final with Nadal was an epic, weighing in at almost six hours of tennis. The rally played out between the two was one of the most intense scenes of the entire tournament, and a testament to the dominance of both.

Yet Djokovic was the victor, claiming the final set 7-5, after having come from two sets to one down and fended off break points at 5-5 in that epic closing set.

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