ATP

Shapovalov out of Qatar Open, Auger-Aliassime beats hero Tsonga in Marseille

By Sports Desk February 17, 2022

Denis Shapovalov crashed out of the Qatar Open after losing in straight sets to France's Arthur Rinderknech in their quarter-final on Thursday.

The top-seeded Canadian lost in just an hour and 20 minutes as Rinderknech sealed a 6-4 6-4 victory to seal his place in the semi-finals in Doha.

Shapovalov struggled throughout, making nine double faults and having to face 10 break points, of which he managed to save eight.

Rinderknech will now face Nikoloz Basilashvili after the Georgian fought back to beat Marton Fucsovics 1-6 6-3 7-5.

The other semi-final will see Karen Khachanov take on Roberto Bautista Agut, with the Russian also coming from a set down in beating Marin Cilic 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Bautista Agut followed up Wednesday's 6-0 6-1 victory against Andy Murray by again winning comfortably against fellow Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, scoring a 6-1 6-1 success.

The number two seed won 74 per cent of points when landing his first serve as he sealed victory in an hour and 17 minutes.

At the Open 13 in Marseille, Rotterdam champion Felix Auger-Aliassime increased his winning streak to six matches after beating French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 to head through to the quarter-finals.

"It was a special moment," Auger-Aliassime said after his win. "When the match was coming to the end, I knew it was going to be a special moment, a full-circle moment. He was my top idol growing up and I saw myself in him at times."

Auger-Aliassime will play world number 49 Ilya Ivashka next, while top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also went through after a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win against Hugo Gaston. The Greek star will play Russian Roman Safiullin in the last eight.

Ninth seed Benjamin Bonzi beat fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 6-3 and will go up against Aslan Karatsev in the next round, while Lucas Pouille overcame Radu Albot 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-2) and will tackle Andrey Rublev next.

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  • Wimbledon: Nadal decision day for Kyrgios clash as Spaniard battles injury Wimbledon: Nadal decision day for Kyrgios clash as Spaniard battles injury

    Rafael Nadal faced make-or-break tests on Thursday to determine whether he would have to abandon his Wimbledon campaign.

    The 22-time grand slam winner aggravated an abdominal injury during his five-set victory over Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals, admitting he had been in pain on court.

    It did not prevent Nadal lasting the distance in a stirring battle lasting four hours and 21 minutes, taking the decider on a tie-break.

    But Nadal risks having to pull out of Friday's semi-final against Australian Nick Kyrgios if his body is judged to have taken too much of a battering.

    Family members appealed to Nadal to give up the ghost against Fritz, but the 36-year-old played on and pulled off a typically gutsy victory.

    He confirmed after the match: "Tomorrow I'm going to have some more tests. But [it is] difficult to know. It's obvious that I am a player who had a lot of things in my tennis career, so I am used to have things and I am used to hold pain and to play with problems.

    "Knowing that, when I feel something like I felt, that is because something is not going the proper way in abdominal. But let's see. I had these feelings for a couple of days."

    Nadal said it was undoubtedly "the worst day" for his abdomen since he first felt a strain, which had required strapping before he played Fritz.

    He said there had "been an important increase of pain and limitation", but Italian player Fabio Fognini appeared to question Nadal's injury status when he posted a message in an Instagram story, reacting to a report pointing out the Spaniard's problem.

    The message read: "For sure... Guys stop believe in what you read PLEASE."

    But Fognini later denied that meant he was questioning Nadal's injury, accusing journalists of twisting his words.

    He wrote: "It's time to stop writing and reporting everything that you want in the wrong way. With that I wish Rafa and his entire team a lot of good luck in this Wimbledon final."

    Former Spain goalkeeper Santiago Canizares, who now works in the sports media, also weighed in, writing on Twitter: "If there is anyone to believe in this society, it is @RafaelNadal. For many reasons that I am too lazy to cite.

    "There are those who doubt his injury yesterday, but one fact does not bear debate: his serve was 30 per cent less than his usual speed ... Usual almost 200 km/h. Yesterday 150/160 km/h"

    That did not quite stack up across the entire match, but Nadal's average serve speeds (107mph for first serve, 95mph for second serve) were his slowest of the tournament so far.

    Nadal has already won the Australian Open and French Open titles this year, defying a long-time foot problem. Should he play on and win Wimbledon, he would go to the US Open in August with a chance of achieving the first men's singles calendar Grand Slam clean sweep since Rod Laver achieved the feat in 1969.

    The winner of the semi-final between Nadal and Kyrgios, should it go ahead as planned, will face the winner of Novak Djokovic's match against Cameron Norrie in the title match.

  • Wimbledon: 'I am worried' – Nadal admits he is no sure thing to play in the semi-final Wimbledon: 'I am worried' – Nadal admits he is no sure thing to play in the semi-final

    Rafael Nadal says he does not know if he will be able to play in his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios after aggravating an abdominal injury during his five-set victory over Taylor Fritz.

    Nadal, 36, has been vocal about his struggles physically during the tournament, but had been determined to push through the pain in an effort to keep his chances at the calendar slam alive, having already won this year's Australian Open and French Open.

    During his quarter-final win against Fritz, family members were imploring Nadal to retire from the match as his clear discomfort appeared to be getting the better of him at times.

    He admitted in his post-match media appearance that his condition worsened during the match, saying he will prioritise his health if he has to make a tough decision.

    "I don't know [if I will be able to play] – I am going to have some more tests, but it is difficult to know," he said.

    "I had these feelings for a couple of days, but without a doubt, today was the worst day. There has been an important increase of pain and limitation.

    "I am worried. I don't have a decision. I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way.

    "There is something more important than winning Wimbledon, and that is health."

    The winner between Nadal and Kyrgios will face the winner of Novak Djokovic's semi-final against Cameron Norrie in the decider.

  • Wimbledon: Nadal hopeful of recovering from injury in time for Kyrgios semi-final Wimbledon: Nadal hopeful of recovering from injury in time for Kyrgios semi-final

    Rafael Nadal is hopeful he will overcome an abdominal injury that plagued him during his victory over Taylor Fritz in time for Friday's Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

    The 22-time grand slam winner recovered from behind to edge Fritz 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) in a thrilling contest on Centre Court on Wednesday.

    Nadal called for a medical time-out in the second set and never fully recovered from the issue, with his movement restricted throughout the four-hour-and-20-minute battle.

    However, Nadal showed incredible mental and physical resilience to dig deep and see off first-time grand slam quarter-finalist Fritz and set up a showdown with Kyrgios.

    Speaking in his on-court interview, the Spaniard admitted he was not entirely sure he would be able to see out his quarter-final tie after playing through the pain barrier.

    "The body in general is fine," he said. "The abdominal [area] is not going well. I had to find a way to serve a little bit different.

    "For a lot of moments I was thinking I will not be able to finish the match, but the court energy was something else.

    "I honestly enjoy a lot playing these kind of matches, in front of you guys, I can’t thank you enough. It has been a tough afternoon. [Fritz] is a great player, all the credit to him.

    "He's been great the whole season. But from my personal side it was not an easy match at all, so I'm just very happy to be in the semi-final.

    "I hope to be ready to play it. Nick is a great player on all surfaces but especially on grass, he is having a great grass-court season.

    "It's going to be a big challenge and I'm going to need to be at my 100 per cent to have a chance, and that is what I'm going to try to do."

     

    Nadal has now won all eight quarter-finals contested at Wimbledon and is on a 19-match winning run at grand slams – three short of his own record of 21, which he set in 2010.

    The victory over Fritz marked only the second time Nadal has won a fifth-set tie-break at a major, having previously prevailed against Dominic Thiem at the 2018 US Open.

    It was also the first time since the same stage four years ago, against Juan Martin Del Potro, that Nadal has come through a five-set match at Wimbledon.

    He has two days to recover ahead of facing Kyrgios, who had earlier defeated Cristian Garin in straight sets to reach a first grand slam semi-final.

    "Tomorrow I'm going to have some more tests. But it's difficult to know [how I'll feel]," Nadal said when providing a further update on his fitness.

    "It's obvious that I am not the kind of player that I didn't have a lot of things [injuries] in my tennis career, so I am used to have things and I am used to hold pain and to play with problems.

    "Knowing that, when I feel something like I felt, that is because something is not going the proper way. But let's see. 

    "It's obvious that today is nothing new. I had these feelings for a couple of days. Without a doubt, today was the worst day.

    "There has been an important increase of pain and limitation. I managed to win that match. Let's see what's going on tomorrow."

    Nadal leads Kyrgios 6-3 in their previous nine career matches, including victories in two of their three meetings in majors.

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