Rafael Nadal has made a perfect start to the season, winning all 15 matches and lifting three ATP titles. Nadal struggled with injuries in 2021, winning two ATP titles on clay but failing to reach a Major final after tough losses in Melbourne and Paris.
In June, Rafa experienced the third Roland Garros defeat to Novak Djokovic in four grueling sets, injuring his left foot and missing Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. The Spaniard tested his physical shape in Washington in August, playing two matches and deciding to call it a season after feeling nowhere near 100%.
Nadal did not know what to expect at the start of 2022, losing both matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and catching the coronavirus. Still, he decided to travel to Melbourne and hope for the best. Feeling good on the practice court and not thinking about winning titles, Nadal found his A-game to claim two titles and write history books at the Australian Open.
The Spaniard conquered the season’s first Major for the first time since 2009 and earned the record-breaking 21st Major title, leaving Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on 20. Gaining a boost at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne despite not playing at his best, Rafa passed all the obstacles at the Australian Open a few weeks later to prove his everlasting class.
Rafa moved well and did everything right to overcome a couple of challenging rivals and gain the crown.
Rafael Nadal claimed his first Australian Open title since 2009.
The Spaniard stood on the verge of the fifth consecutive defeat in the Australian Open finals, trailing 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 against world no.
2 Daniil Medvedev before performing one of his career-best comebacks to cross the finish line first. Rafa scored a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 win in five hours and 24 minutes and prevailed in the second-longest Major final in history!
A couple of weeks later, Rafa beat Daniil again in Acapulco en route to his fourth crown in Mexico. Speaking about the season so far, Nadal called it a great one after only two months, winning a Major crown and staying undefeated after having so many problems in the previous months.
“It’s my third tournament, and it’s still early to analyze the season. Things have started very well, and we can leave the analyzes for October, then we can debate. For now, I can tell you that this way of starting the season has been a dream come true.
Whatever happens for the rest of the year, winning a Major and two more tournaments is great. Considering where I was a couple of months ago, the season is already better than I could have dreamed of. I would have signed it at the beginning of the year; it was challenging to achieve something like that. Right now, I am looking forward to playing more tournaments and enjoying myself on the court,” Rafael Nadal said.
Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez – First Round – Preview & Prediction | 2022 French Open
When is Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez on and what time does it start? Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez will take place on Monday 23rd May, 2022 – not before TBC (UK)
Where is Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez taking place? Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez will take place at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France
What surface is Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez being played on? Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez will take place on an outdoor clay court
Where can I get tickets for Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez? Visit this link for the latest ticket information for Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez
What channel is Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez on in the UK? Eurosport will be televising major matches so it is worth checking their schedule for Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez
Where can I stream Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez in the UK? discovery+ subscribers can stream Kristina Mladenovic vs Leylah Fernandez live while the match can be streamed on Eurosport Player and Amazon Prime Video if it is televised
19-year-old Leylah Fernandez set a new career-high WTA world ranking of 17th this week despite so far struggling on clay. The Canadian famously finished runner-up to Emma Raducanu at the US Open last season having taken out an incredible list of Grand Slam champions and top 10 players in: Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka. Fernandez successfully defended her Monterrey Open title back in February on a her favoured hard surface but the dogged left-hander has huge potential in her game for the clay too.
World number 110 Kristina Mladenovic spend much of her time on the ITF circuit these days, especially in the singles, but the 29-year-old took Nuria Parrizas-Diaz to three sets in defeat at the Rabat Open on Wednesday. A first meeting with Leylah Fernandez is likely going one way, especially with the French crowd set to take to the Canadian, who is fluent in French, as one of their own. Back Fernandez to win this in two and watch out for the 19-year-old in Paris.
How Osaka, Raducanu and Fernandez can learn from Sharapova’s growth on clay
While they haven’t had early success on clay, Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez and Naomi Osaka can find hope in the example of Maria Sharapova.
The two millimeters of terre battue – iron oxide is what creates that distinctive burnt sienna hue – that cover the courts in Paris can represent a quagmire for the clay novice. It’s exceedingly unstable, creating all kinds of physical issues.
Maria Sharapova’s first exposure to these horrors ended badly in 2003, with a 6-0, 6-4 loss to Spanish clay-courter Magui Swerna. Sharapova was only 16 years old – but already a big hitter with a promising career underway. Still, nothing suggested she would ever solve the Rubik’s Cube that was clay.
After winning a second-round match four years later at Roland Garros, Sharapova uttered an unforgettable quote, saying she felt “like a cow on ice.” It brings an immediate (and indelible) image to mind and was a hot topic in 2012 when she actually reached the finals in Paris.
“I can’t tell you how many times that I have heard that phrase in the last four weeks from journalists,” Sharapova said at the time. “I will give you the standard answer. That I do occasionally still feel like it and, I’m sure, look like it, too.”
It wasn’t only about movement for Sharapova. It was also the grinding, physical toll exacted from matches where her serve and groundstrokes didn’t create as many winners as they did on the faster surfaces. The different muscles that sliding demanded. Early in her career, she never imagined she could put together the seven tough matches required of champions at Roland Garros.
And yet, one decade ago, she defeated Italian Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 to win her first French Open title. Along with her three previous major triumphs – 2004 Wimbledon, 2006 US Open, 2008 Australian Open – she became only the 10th woman to capture the rare career Grand Slam.
In an irony not lost on Sharapova; she won a second French Open title two years later, beating Simona Halep in a match that ran more than three hours. This, on the surface she once thought to be her worst. Note, her career winning percentages: hard court (.777), grass (.794) – and clay (.815).
So many great players have fallen one particular title short of that personal Slam, among them: Justine Henin, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis. Lindsay Davenport – joined by Pete Sampras and Boris Becker – missed out on the matched set by failing to win at Roland Garros.
The 10th anniversary of Sharapova’s breakthrough is a good time to remind those armchair skeptics that it’s way too early in the curve to start passing definitive judgments on some of today’s young players who already have had success on hard courts
Naomi Osaka won her first major, the 2018 US Open, at the age of 20. Now 24, she’s won four majors, all of them on hard courts. Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez played last year’s US Open final, but clay remains something beyond their immediate grasp.
Mastering the cloying clay in Paris and the slippery slope of Wimbledon’s immaculate grass courts requires a certain diversity of game and the ability to adapt to drastically different conditions. Serena Williams is the only active woman with a personal Grand Slam, and she’s done it three times over. Angelique Kerber has won three different majors, but lacks the French Open on her resume; she made the quarterfinals there twice, in 2012 and 2018. Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza have both captured Roland Garros and Wimbledon but have yet to win a hard-court major.
It’s been a small sample this year for our young triumvirate. Osaka is 1-1 on clay for 2022, following last year’s 2-3 record. Raducanu, this year playing her first clay matches at the level, is an encouraging 5-4. Fernandez went 2-2 in Madrid and Rome. Raducanu and Fernandez are just kids in the sandbox, relatively speaking, trying to figure it out.
“I have definitely learnt that I can kind of adapt to this surface much faster than I probably thought and about how to stay in the point,” Raducanu said Friday during Media Day at Roland Garros. “I think my movement on defense has also improved a bit.
“When to play with spin and when to actually hit it hard. You don’t have to always just grind it out. Sometimes you can put your hard-court game on a clay court, as well. It’s just finding the balance. I think that clay definitely teaches you that.”
The first thing they must master, according to 18-time major champion Martina Navratilova, is their movement. Sliding in the dirt, it turns out, is an acquired skill.
“Unless you grew up on the stuff, it’s hard to gain that footing,” Navratilova said. “You become vulnerable easier on clay, like if you get pushed wide – unless you really know how to slide – you don’t recover after the shot as well. And it shows up more, not covering the court as well, with the big hitters, because you can’t make up for it as much.”
Like Navratilova, Pam Shriver, a tennis analyst for ESPN and Tennis Channel, grew up playing a lot on clay but discovered it didn’t suit her big game.
“Eventually, I would just settle in and think, `You know what, I can just play my same game, but I just have to do it just a little bit better,’” Shriver said.” If it’s a play that works on a faster surface, I just need to do it with a little more conviction. A slightly better angle, a slightly better serve.
“These days, there’s not as much difference in the surfaces. Players can bring their same game to all three surfaces and just make their little adjustments here and there.”
Ultimately, it all goes back to the example of Sharapova. Toward the end of her career, clay became her most consistent surface. As Shriver noted, look at what Sharapova did – study it – and it could happen to you.
“Clay at the beginning kind of was like written off, ‘Oh, it’s a clay court, just have a go,'” Raducanu said. “But now I really believe that I can be good and faster than I thought it would be.”
With insight from Navratilova and Shriver, who won 20 Grand Slam doubles titles together from 1981-89, including a calendar-year Grand Slam in 1984, a brief examination of how Raducanu, Fernandez and Osaka could make some headway on clay this year at Roland Garros:
French Open seed: No.12
Career records: Hard court:11-9 (.550), Clay: 5-4 (.556), Grass: 3-2 (.600)
Total: 19-15 (.559)
Navratilova: “Raducanu can generate pace and redirects pretty well. But on clay she has to do a lot more. It’s harder to find the openings, so you have to hit more shots and pick your spot.”
Shriver: “I feel like on the footwork side, I think Raducanu has some potential on clay because it’s a little more precise than the other two.”
French Open seed: No. 17
Career records: Hard court: 39-23 (.629), Clay: 7-8 (.467), Grass: 1-2 (.333)
Navratilova: “Leylah doesn’t have the big weapons of, say, an Osaka. Those weapons can get you out of trouble on clay. Movement, like with Halep, will have to be her calling card.”
Shriver: “Hitting topspin and creating margin, I think is a Fernandez strength. And also being left-handed – the good lefty forehand over the top, gets up high. I like her using that in a positive way on clay.”
French Open: Unseeded
Career records: Hard court: 134-57 (.702), Clay: 21-17 (.553), Grass: 11-9 (.550)
Total: 166-83 (.667)
Navratilova: “For Osaka, her big shots don’t pay off as well on clay. So she has to hit more balls, and her play is still pretty risky. Eventually, I think Osaka can succeed on clay because of the weapons she has. Sharapova was a bigger hitter, and it worked for her. It can be done. It just takes a while. You just need to put in the miles.”
Shriver: “On clay, Osaka’s footwork is not as comfortable. Osaka’s a little bit older  so she’s had a longer time to develop some scar tissue about the surface, an unease. Like Sharapova, she can realize if you’re a little bit slower, clay actually helps you.”
Tiger Woods chastises Phil Mickelson for his Saudi viewpoint
TULSA, Okla. — Tiger Woods is all about majors and legacy, a point he drove home Tuesday in a sharp rebuke of Phil Mickelson and his support of a Saudi-funded golf venture that led to Lefty not defending his title at the PGA Championship.
Even as Woods resumes a remarkable return from a car crash 15 months ago that nearly led to his right leg being amputated, the PGA Championship cannot escape the absence of Mickelson and speculation about who might sign up for Greg Norman’s new Saudi-backed golf series.
Woods said he has not tried to reach out to Mickelson since his self-imposed hiatus from golf three months ago, mainly because of their difference of opinion on how golf should be run.
“I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past,” Woods said.
“There’s plenty of money out here,” he said. “The tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sport — it’s like tennis — you have to go out there and earn it. You’ve got to go out there and play for it. We have opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.”
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That was a reference to some of the Public Investment Fund money out of Saudi Arabia being offered to players to join Norman and his LIV Golf Investments. According to various reports out of Britain, some top players were being offered more than the $120 million Woods has made in career PGA Tour earnings.
Mickelson showed his hand in two interviews published in February. He accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” while playing in Saudi Arabia, and more incendiary comments followed when Alan Shipnuck published an excerpt of his unauthorized biography on Mickelson.
Mickelson said the Saudis were “scary mother-(expletives) to get involved with,” and then dismissed its human rights atrocities — such as the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — by saying it was worth it to gain leverage to make changes on the PGA Tour.
He also said he didn’t care if the Saudi league failed, as long as the tour made changes he wanted.
Mickelson decided last Friday he would not play at Southern Hills, missing out on a chance to be celebrated for his historic win last year at Kiawah Island when at age 50 he became golf’s oldest major champion.
He is the first PGA champion not to defend since Woods was recovering from knee surgery in 2008 and skipped Oakland Hills.
“It’s always disappointing when the defending champion is not here,” Woods said. “Phil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the tour and committed to the legacy of the tour have pushed back against, and he’s taken some personal time, and we all understand that. But I think that some of his views on how the tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there.”
“He’s just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back.”
Woods, meanwhile, is back and more optimistic than he was a month ago at the Masters. He said those who are close to him were thrilled to see him walk all 72 holes at Augusta National, his first time walking while competing since the Feb. 23, 2021, accident in Los Angeles that shattered bones in his right leg and ankle.
All he could think about the day after was a bad putting week that led to a 78-78 weekend.
“I did not see it that way Monday,” he said. “I was a little ticked I didn’t putt well, and felt like I was hitting it good enough and I wish I had the stamina.”
He said the Monday after the Masters was a tough day of recovery, and then he went right back to work trying to gain strength and endurance.
“It’s better than the last time I played a tournament, which is good,” Woods said.
He is the defending PGA champion at Southern Hills, having won by two shots in 2007 for his 13th of what is now 15 majors. And he barely recognized the course after a restoration project that brought back a few meandering creeks and returned the edges of the putting surfaces so they funnel shots away from the green.
The bigger challenge is the players he is trying to beat, which make up the strongest field of the majors. Woods is 46, and Mickelson showed a year ago that age is only a number. However, Mickelson had been playing a full schedule all along. Woods, with his injuries, would appear to be limited to the four majors this year at most.
One help is the nature of the walk. Augusta National is among the toughest in golf. Southern Hills features a sharp drop from the first and 10th tees and tough climb at the end of each nine. Otherwise, it’s a relatively gentle stroll.
“Figured the first mountain you climbed was Everest. That’s the steepest golf course you’re going to play and that was the first one you climbed, and climbed it,” Woods said. “It’s going to get flatter and better.”
He still struggles on certain days. He said it’s never as easy as it might look.
“But I feel like I’m doing better,” he said. “I’m having more days which are better, more positive.”
Maria Sharapova Tennis Player Biography, Family, Achievements, Carrier, Records and Awards
Maria Sharapova is a Russian formerRussian former professionaland also she won five Grand Slam titles. She was one of top tennis players in the early 21st century. Basically she was a winner and she can do anything to get her goals in both personal and professional life. She is one of the most famous women athletes among the world and she was famously known as the face of women tennis. Her biggest strength was her height and her power to win the opponents. She was nicknamed as a “Screaming Cinderella” because of her grunting habit while playing in the court.
Biography Of Maria Sharapova :
Maria Sharapova Childhood : Maria is the daughter of Yuri Sharapov and Yelena, she and her father shifted to US from Russia. Her mother stayed at Russia for 2 years they rarely spoke in phone, but her love for tennis gave her the strength to face everything. Her father had a great interest on tennis and he used to play with her often. He took Maria to the Nick Bollettieri tennis Academy when she was very small at the age of 9. She made an agreement with Nike in the age of 11. Her father played a very important role in her career and still now he supports her and motivates in all her matches.
Early Life Of Maria Sharapova :
In 2001 she turned pro at the age of 14 and in 2003 she won her first title in Women’s Tennis Association. In 2004 she won her first Grand Slam title by defeating the American star player Serena Williams at Wimbledon. Next year she was ranked number 1 for the first time in her career and reached the semifinals of Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Then she won her third Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
2012 was an amazing year for her she won the French Open and become the seventh female player in the Open era to complete a career grand slam. Same year she won the Silver Medal at the London Olympics. After recovering from serious injuries she returned to the field at 2014. She won the French Open and grabs her Fifth Grand Slam title. She was suspended for 15 months due to the intake of Anti-doping medicines in 2016 and in 2020 she announces her retirement from Tennis.
Tennis superstar and Real Madrid fan Rafael Nadal reveals he WILL attend the Champions League final in Paris against Liverpool despite the game taking place in the middle of the French Open
However, Nadal may run into difficulties as the Final date could clash with a fixture of his own later into the tournament.
The Real Madrid supporter expressed his desire to attend his club’s first Champions League Final since the 2017/18 season – where they triumphed over their upcoming opponents 3-1.
However the fixture looks to coincide with the 3rd Round of the French Open which is scheduled to take place over the 27th and 28th of May.
The Spaniard will be looking to win the French Open for a record 14th time in the coming weeks
The ‘King of Clay’ will be looking to win back the French Open title after last year’s defeat to Stefano Tsitsipas prevented the Spaniard from retaining the championship five years in a row.
Coincidentally Real Madrid will be looking to win the Champions League for a 14th time as well – as they look to repeat the victory in their previous final meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The final was initially meant to be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg but due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict it was relocated to the Stade de France in Saint-Denis – a short journey away from the Stade Roland Garros.
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