Australian Open: Many Intriguing Battles Rage on Melbourne Soil

ATP – Australian Open

The first Major of the year is already underway, and there already are a number of interesting stories surrounding the Australian Open.

The majority of the talking points that are buzzing around the prestigious tournament revolves around the Big Four — the four supreme athletes that have brought the sport to greater heights over the past decade. They have dominated for years now, and I don’t think much will change here.

These men and their on-court feats still draw the biggest us tips, but their actions outside the court have also sparked discussions amongst the game’s most passionate fans.

Depending on your level of involvement to the fantastic sport of tennis, these stories will definitely tug at your heartstrings or rile you up for the upcoming matches.

Talking Points

Nadal and Federer continue to battle for domination

These two men have been at the top of the game for quite a long time that people forget just how good they have been. However, they reminded people over the 2018 season the superb quality they possess, and they will likely show in this tournament why pundits still cannot count them out.

Federer continues to impress despite being older than almost every other player playing in the competition. The Swiss maestro showed off his supreme talent as he took down Denis Istomin in straight sets. Even he cannot believe that he is still performing at such an effective rate.

“It’s disbelief to be quite honest that I’m the double defending champion at my age,” he said. “I hope I can do it again this year.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal also won his first match of the competition in straight sets. He was facing some tough resistance from local player James Duckworth, but his tweaked serve made sure that he would not face any problems.

With these two still performing at a high level at their age, it begs belief if these two aren’t a part of the Australian Open 2019 betting lists of the many punters looking into the tournament.

Rafael Nadal reacts after winning a point against James Duckworth in their first round match at the Australian Open

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reacts after winning a tennis match

Djokovic: Fighting wars on two fronts

Novak Djokovic is having an interesting start to his 2019. And I am using “interesting” to play down how chaotic his year has started so far.

He ended 2018 on a rather bitter note after starting the second half of the season on an angry winning streak. He was supposed to end on a high by winning the ATP Finals, but Alexander Zverev shocked the world and took down the Serb in straight sets.

We can be sure that Djokovic will be looking to start this year on the right note by taking home his seventh Australian Open title and establishing his stature as one of the best players to ever pick up a tennis racket.

However, this is not the only battle the mighty Serb has been fighting. Australian Open 2019 news stories reveal that he is embroiled in a rough political battle that seeks to boost player power. He voted against extending the tenure of ATP chief executive Chris Kermode, a figure supported by Federer, Nadal and a smattering of other top professionals.

Should he get his way after the Open, the tour will see a lot of changes happening. Meanwhile, this should make the tournament interesting, especially if Djokovic meets either Nadal or Djokovic in the tournament’s latter stages.

Who will be the next big tennis star?

The entire tennis world is still reeling from the untimely sunset that befell Andy Murray’s tennis career. The one-steady Scot limped out of the Australian Open’s first round in a full-set duel against Roberto Bautista Agut.

The former number one made the tough decision to call it quits as his hip just won’t let him play at the level we have come to expect from the two-time Wimbledon winner.

And with Murray officially unable to play at the highest level, some may be looking at the next person who will step up and take his place.

Will it be Zverev, who has already impressed many players on the tour. Dominic Thiem and Juan Martin del Potro could also take his place if they perform well enough this year.

Until that happens, everyone is only hoping that Murray’s hip can hold out until he makes it to the hallowed courts of Wimbledon for his last hurrah.

The Australian Open could be Andy Murray’s last tournament

Andy Murray looking glum during a press conference

History

Djokovic and Federer are the biggest favourites to make it back to the final and win the entire tournament again. Both men have won the Australian title six times. Some can say that Federer is the bigger fish in this pond as he won the last two iterations of the competition.

However, Rafael Nadal has experienced victory in Melbourne during the 2009 tournament and was the runner-up three times. One of his more memorable performances was the five-hour classic he played with Djokovic in 2012.

Murray also used to thrive in this Grand Slam as well, making the final five times. However, I don’t think anyone outside the four can even match the four in terms of the play they have showcased in the last ten years.

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Paris Masters 2018: Big Moments Call for Big Games!

Rolex Paris Masters 2018

This is it. The ninth and final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event that will decide who will become the World No.1 and who will make it to the O2 in London for the ATP Finals.

Rafael Nadal returns after a two-month absence due to injury, and he will be ready to defend his position as the top-ranked men’s tennis player in the world in the French capital. However, Novak Djokovic—unarguably the best player on tour this year—will be keen to end the Spaniard’s supremacy and make a long-overdue comeback to the summit.

The battle of the two players will be the main storyline of the Paris Masters 2018, though that won’t be the only development to watch in the tournament. Not with the fight for the remaining spots in the ATP Race to London entering its final stretch in the so-called final battleground.

Talking Points

Battle for No.1

Nadal and Djokovic are in a tight fight for the men’s top ranking, and the math is simple: the player who finishes one round better than the other will become No.1 come November.

Nadal is coming off a knee injury that forced him to retire in the US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in early September. He hasn’t been in action since then, most notably missing Spain’s Davis Cup semi-final against France, as well as the Shanghai Masters that featured some of the highest-rated players in the world.

Djokovic, on the other hand, has been on a tear since May and has already added two major titles to his long list of accomplishments this year. He won the championship in Wimbledon and followed it with an impressive performance in the US Open.

The Serbian juggernaut is undoubtedly the hottest player on tour right now, and with only 215 points separating him from Nadal in the rankings, he is well in position to surpass the 17-time Grand Slam winner.

The advantage is probably on Djokovic given his form and recent exploits, but it’s always unwise to count out Nadal on big moments. With the year-end tournament in sight, Nadal will certainly be eyeing for a good result here as he aims to prove his fitness before the London spectacle.

It remains to be seen how the two will fare in the tournament, though a meeting in the final between Novak and Rafa would certainly be a perfect and dramatic ending!

Two spots remaining in ATP Race

There are still two places up for grabs in the ATP Race to London, and that only means more intense games throughout as the remaining chasers go all out in hopes of securing the final spots.

Nadal, Djokovic, Del Potro, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson have already secured their places for the tour’s curtain-closer this November, but the likes of Marin Cilic (seventh), Dominic Thiem (eight), Kei Nishikori (ninth) and John Isner (10th) still have a chance to join the five.

John Isner needs to at least reach the Paris Masters 2018 final to have any shot at qualifying for the ATP Finals

John Isner in action against Ernests Gulbis during the semi-finals of the Stockholm Open

Sure enough, the likes of Isner and Nishikori need to reach the final at the least to have any shot at qualifying, but it’s not wrong to expect some last-minute drama and surprises. After all, Jack Sock took the tournament by storm in 2017 as he made an impressive run to the title to claim the eighth spot for the ATP Finals.

Surprise, surprise…champion?

The Paris Masters has seen a lot of surprise winners and performances at the turn of the century, and Sock is the prime example of that. In fact, in the 2017 edition of the event, the final four featured Filip Krajinovic and Julien Benneteau, alongside Isner and Sock—players who weren’t even expected to make it that far in the competition.

Sock eventually won it all, continuing the trend of underdogs shining in what was supposed to be an arena for the best.

The likes of Tomas Berdych (2005), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2008), Robin Soderling (2010) and David Ferrer (2012) have won the title in Paris as well, so seeing another unlikely player step up and grab the Paris Masters 2018 news headlines isn’t far-fetched at all.

History

Although 13 different players have won the Paris title since 2000, there’s one name that stands out among them: Djokovic.

Yes, the in-form Serb is the winningest player in the competition, and only a few come close to his four titles. Retired players Marat Safin and Boris Becker have three each.

Djokovic won the event in three straight years, from 2013 to 2015. He bagged his first title in the tournament way back in 2009 before his dominant run that would see him return to the pinnacle of the sport.

What are the odds?

Based on the Paris Masters 2018 odds at us, Novak Djokovic is the firm favourite to win at 2.00. Interestingly, both Federer and Nadal are given the same odds, albeit at a far-off 6.50.

Zverev has a good chance too at 11.00, though ATP Finals hopefuls Nishikori (19.00), Cilic (23.00) and Isner (26.00) are not really expected to make it to the finals.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Rogers Cup: Rafael Nadal is Back and Winning

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-2, 7-6 [7-4])

It’s been a month since Rafael Nadal last played, but that doesn’t mean he’s all rusty and out of shape as he proved in the Rogers Cup.

In his first tournament back since his Wimbledon semi-final exit, Nadal fended off a stiff challenge from Greek upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his fourth Rogers Cup title—which is also his 33rd Masters 1000 crown and 80th ATP tour title.

Tsisipas, who was celebrating his 20th birthday, was the first unseeded player to reach the Canada final in over a decade. And after becoming the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in a single tournament, he appeared poised to get another upset in Toronto.

However, Nadal showed the Greek teenager the difference in their experience, holding his nerve despite a second-set fightback that saw Tsitsipas almost pull off a real “birthday surprise.”

Highlights of the game

Nadal was just too good for Tsitsipas, plain and simple.

Tsitsipas, in his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final appearance, threw everything he had at Nadal and even impressed with his brilliant shot-making. Nonetheless, Rafa proved his dominance and schooled the Greek in the first set as he raced to a 4-1 lead.

Nadal was clearly at his best right from the off, hitting from the baseline with great accuracy and moving freely as he dictated the tempo of the game. He relied heavily on his forehand to dominate and hit nine such winners before closing the opener in 34 minutes.

The second set appeared to be heading on the same course as the first, with Nadal leading for the most part. Nevertheless, Tsitsipas refused to back down and found his rhythm just in time when the Spanish maestro was serving for the title at 5-4 and everything looking all but over.

In a move worthy to be featured in the Rogers Cup 2018 highlights, Tsitsipas pulled off a stunning service break to shift the momentum.  The Greek youngster then buckled up defensively and was solid with his return game as he turned the game around to lead at 6-5.

Stefanos Tsitsipas proves his strength as he tries to beat Rafael Nadal during the Rogers Cup final

Stefanos Tsitsipas serves the ball against Rafael Nadal during Rogers Cup final in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Nadal, however, forced a tiebreak after a net-cord volley and regained his composure to close the game. The 32-year-old World no.1 was the aggressor in the tiebreak, but he still hit safely and confidently as he ended the game with a cross-court forehand winner.

Nadal expressed his delight after the win and admitted that he didn’t expect to win the title at all after his month-long rest.

“If you told me this two weeks ago, I would not have believed it,” Nadal said. “It’s a great way to start the hard-court season. Winning in Toronto is so important. You don’t win Masters 1000s very often. It’s a very important victory for me and I’m very happy.”

He also has nothing but praise for the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, who he described as a player with a “great future.”

“Yeah, he’s a great player,” Nadal said when asked if the Greek reminds him of his younger self. “He has all the shots—a good serve and he’s good on the baseline both back and forehand. He’s brave, he’s young and he’s got the right energy so he has a great future.”

Key statistics

Weird enough, Nadal committed two double faults in the second set, though he still dominated the game in almost every aspect.

Nadal finished with 27 winners and 20 unforced errors. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas finished with 15 winners and 25 mistakes, which proved costly particularly in his spectacular second-set fightback.

The Rogers Cup 2018 betting odds had Nadal as the clear favourite to win the tournament, alongside Novak Djokovic, but his victory is still a little bit surprising given that it was his first win on a hard court this season. His four previous titles this year all came from clay court, having won the French Open, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome titles.

As mentioned, Tsitsipas is the youngest player to record four top-10 wins en route to the Canadian Open finals, upsetting the likes of Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson. With that record, he climbed to no.15 in the rankings from 27th in the world.

What’s next?

Despite winning the Rogers Cup, Rafael Nadal is set to take a break in the upcoming Cincinnati Masters

Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Stefanos Tsitsipas during their Rogers Cup final clash

Tsitsipas is set to face David Goffin in the Round of 64 in the Cincinnati Masters. Meanwhile, Nadal has announced that he will be skipping the said tournament to rest for the upcoming US Open.

The Cincinnati Masters has generated plenty of buzz here at us as it would have been the first time that the “Big Four” of Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic would appear in the same tournament after more than a year.

However, fans have to wait a few more weeks for that highly anticipated appearance of tennis greats due to Nadal’s withdrawal.

 

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Rogers Cup Preview: Giant Battles Between Greats Begin!

Rogers Cup Men’s Singles

The world took a bit of a break after the thrilling grass-court action that Wimbledon brought to tennis fans. However, the tennis season quickly returns with another big contest that is sure to grab your attention and bets.

The Rogers Cup has begun, and this tournament can be seen as the big warm-up before the US Open. This year’s Men’s Singles tournament will be held in Toronto, meaning that the city close to US border will bear witness to some exciting tennis action from the world’s best tennis players.

While not all of the best crop will be able to play their tennis in front of an endearing Canadian audience as well as the rest of the world. The lack of star power should not be able to deter all of the players from making plays that will wow the crowd!

Talking Points

It’s hard not to talk about the competition if we don’t put the notable absentees into consideration first.

The biggest miss for many a tennis fan would be Roger Federer as the Swiss star decided to sit out of the tournament in order to focus on the US Open later this month. Roger can be counted on to put up some superb Rogers Cup 2018 results, so it is a big miss for fans to not see him in the competition.

However, Federer’s own coach understands the decision of the tennis great’s logic to skip out of the competition.

“Would it be an advantage for him to play two tournaments prior to the US Open? For me, nope,” Severin Luthi said of his star. “At 37 and with his experience, he doesn’t need 25 tournaments before a Major.”

 Another big miss would be British ace Andy Murray. The Scotsman had an emphatic last-16 victory at the Washington Open only to opt out of the competition to focus on his recovery in time for the US Open.

While these two stars will be sorely missed by the crowd, the playing field is anything but boring. The tournament features some powerful servers, technical geniuses, and iron-willed players willing to run the game out.

The biggest stars drawing attention would be Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They had a thrilling Wimbledon semi-final. While their duel pales in comparison to Kevin Anderson’s outrageous battle, the level of intensity both players displayed will make sure that they will perform just as well in Canada.

Novak Djokovic eyes for more championship this season as he aims to win the upcoming Rogers Cup in Toronto

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic smiles after winning against Rafael Nadal during their Wimbledon semifinals clash

Djokovic will be favoured by us tips and tennis fans to win this entire tournament. I doubt that he’s satisfied with his current form after winning this year’s Wimbledon trophy. The Joker would definitely want a return to his dominant days and stand atop the ATP rankings as the best male tennis player in the world.

This is also the perfect stage for Rafael Nadal to flex his muscles and impress the crowd before the big dance in the US. He did suffer a narrow defeat to Djokovic in England, but that doesn’t erase the fantastic season that he’s having at the moment.

These two are the sure favourites to win the competition, but there are also other players we should keep an eye on. Alexander Zverev has been nothing short of impressive, Kevin Anderson’s guts is hard to not admire, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic are also strong competitors despite not performing well in England.

History

The Canadian Open is one of the biggest tournaments in the calendar, given that it started in 1881, but there are multiple players playing in the current tournament that have won this historic competition.

Rafael Nadal is the first player among the current crop to have won the competition in 2005. He has since won the competition two more times, the last one being in 2013.

Novak Djokovic is the third winningest player in the history of the tournament, grabbing the title four times since 2007. A win in this year’s tournament would tie him with Charles Smith Hyman and a championship behind Ivan Lendl.

What are the odds?

Rogers Cup 2018 betting fans will find the outright odds for this tournament interesting.

While Nadal and Djokovic headline the event with outright odds of 3.50 and 4.30 respectively, it’s remarkable to see De Potro at 8.00—above Zverev who is at 9.00.

The big hitters are pretty high up too. Cilic is at 13.00 to win the Toronto trophy, while John Isner is at 17.00 and Raonic at 21.00. Betting on an Anderson win, on the other hand, pays out at 23.00 while taking a risk on other stars such as  Nick Kyrigios (26.00), Kei Nishikori (34.00) and Dominic Thiem (34.00) gives huge odds too.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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It’s a Grand Duel Between Two Big Tennis Stars!

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal

This year’s Wimbledon has been outshined by the great symphony of upsets that is the 2018 World Cup. However, the glamour and the bright lights of football’s brightest stage cannot take away from the superb action and class that only the green courts of Wimbledon can provide!

The quarter-finals have been nothing but fantastic to many a tennis fan, but everyone knows that a battle between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal is hard to ignore.

Both men have been playing fantastic tennis, so it’s quite hard to tell which Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal predictions are going to come true. One thing is for certain when it comes to this game, however: it will be a very entertaining match for the flocks of rabid fans coming to watch two of the best tennis players duke it out.

Moreover, the result of one other semi-final makes this match a must-win for both the Serbian and the Spaniard. This particular game has also made Wimbledon betting odds a lot more interesting.

Talking Points

Wimbledon betting odds shifts as the South African beats the 8-time champion

Kevin Anderson has beaten Roger Federer 2-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 13-11 to advance to the Wimbledon semi-finals

The biggest match of the Gentlemen’s Singles quarter-final easily has to be the outrageous battle Kevin Anderson went through to defeat perennial favourite, Roger Federer. The last set of the four-hour epic took 24 games, with neither man budging or giving up any significant advantage.

However, the South African’s steely determination and willingness to play rough tennis helped him defeat the odds that were stacked against him, settle the match and book a well-deserved spot in the semi-final.

With the eight-time champion out of the Wimbledon courts, the door has been left wide open for both men to come in and dominate in their place. They are heavily favoured compared to Anderson and John Isner, the American ninth seed.

However, they must beat their semi-final opponent if they want to play a final that looks like an easy winner on paper.

Djokovic is especially looking to get into his first Grand Slam final in a while. It may seem to the casual tennis fan that he has disappeared for a bit, so it is understandable that he is playing with a fire in his belly. That anger of his has helped a lot in overpowering Kei Nishikori, making quick work of him in four sets.

Djokovic’s mad tennis might make life difficult for Rafa Nadal, but the Spaniard has been nothing short of brilliant this season. The Spaniard also ran the distance against Juan Martin Del Potro and almost shared the fate of his Swiss rival. Fortunately for him, he pulled himself together and made a wonderful run to win the match, 7-5 6-7(7) 4-6 6-4 6-4.

This year’s run has been the farthest Nadal has been in six years. He may be riding the momentum he built during the clay season, but it’s hard to deny that this has been his best performance yet.

He will surely look to win another Wimbledon trophy. While the current iteration of the Serbian is a tough opponent to play, Nadal will be doing everything he can to make his fourth Wimbledon final.

History

Djokovic has a high batting average at Wimbledon: he made the finals four times, winning the title thrice. His run-up to this match has also been ideal, winning his prior matches without much trouble.

Meanwhile, Nadal has had a rather interesting run in the Grand Slam he only won twice. From the Round of 64 onwards, he would always play a set where he would find it difficult to break his opponent’s serves. This worrying trend he has built up throughout this tournament only means trouble when he faces a motivated Djokovic.

However, it’s not like he will be coming into this match blind. The two rivals have faced each other a record 51 times, an Open Era record for head-to-head meetings. Nadal has won their last two games, but there is a long stretch where the Serbian would simply steamroll over Rafa.

Their last Wimbledon match was in 2011, a match Novak dominated and won in four sets.

What are the odds?

us Tips Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon semifinal vs Nadal

Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori to advance to his first Wimbledon semifinal since 2015

It will take a lot of effort from Rafa in order to defeat this fired-up Djokovic. us tips agree with my prediction, and the odds the bookies have for this match favours the Serbian by a mile.

If you think Djokovic’s powerful strokes and serves would rattle Nadal out of his game, then a look at the Asian Handicap market is in order. Djokovic -1.50 @ 2.53 is an intriguing option.

However, there is also a big possibility that Nadal will turtle through and make his fourth-ever Wimbledon final. Nadal has 2.00 odds in the 1X2 market.

It will be an uphill battle for Nadal, but it will be one to remember if he manages to pull it off.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Stat Corner: Neymar and Vettel Reach 50s, Rafa Rolls to La Undecima

Whether you are a fan of numbers or not, it’s hard not to appreciate the greatness that unfolded in the sports world today.

Neymar just reached a new milestone with Brazil as he became the country’s joint-third top scorer in their friendly with Austria. Meanwhile, in the latest Formula One updates, Sebastian Vettel joined only a handful of drivers to win 50 Grand Prix races.

On top of all records, Rafael Nadal cemented his status as the greatest clay-court tennis player of all time by winning another French Open title!

Neymar joins Romario for third-most Brazil goals

us Blog features Neymar and his rapid ascend to become one of Brazil's all-time greats

Neymar ties Romario as Brazil’s third all-time scorer after netting his 55th in win over Austria

Neymar’s return to football couldn’t be off to a better start.

After scoring for Brazil in their warm up with Croatia, the Paris Saint-German talisman was at it again—this time bagging a goal to become the nation’s third top scorer of all time.

Neymar found the back of the net just moments after the hour mark to help Brazil to a 3-0 win over the Austrians. That was his 55th goal for Brazil, lifting him alongside Romario for the third-most goals in the nation’s history.

 The former Barcelona star was unsurprisingly happy with his accomplishment, citing that “it is a great honour” to have his name mentioned in the same breath as the Brazil icon.

“I wanted to pay homage to him [Romario] in some way because he is an idol. Like I said last week, I do not want to be better than anyone, just myself,” Neymar said.

“So it was a way to pay tribute, because he is an idol, not just to me, but all Brazilians.”

Neymar reached the feat in his 85th appearance for the country, while Romario scored 55 goals in 70 caps.

Only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more than Neymar in Brazil football history, though the PSG striker has a chance to add more to his tally and move closer to the two legends.

Sebastian Vettel breaks into 50-win mark with Canada win

Formula One Updates: Sebastian Vettel joins elite class of 50-win F1 racers after ruling Canadian GP

Sebastian Vettel gets his 50th Formula One win after conquering Canadian Grand Prix

There’s no doubt Sebastian Vettel is one of Formula One’s all-time greats.

The German driver cruised to a comfortable victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, giving him his 50th F1 race win that only three other drivers have achieved.

A four-time F1 champion, Vettel joined Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher, former Scuderia driver Alain Prost and Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton as the only drivers in history to break into the 50-win threshold.

Besides his landmark victory, Vettel’s Canada win was also made sweeter with the fact that it’s the team’s first win at Montreal in 14 years.

“Perfect is probably a good way to describe it. It’s unbelievable. I said yesterday how much this place means to Ferrari and to have a race like we had today is unbelievable,” Vettel shared.

“It’s 50 for me but after a long stretch that Ferrari didn’t win here, I saw the people around and they were super happy.”

Vettel made his debut in 2007 in the United States Grand Prix and has since become a fixture in the F1 scene. In 2010, he became the youngest world champion at 23 years old. He went on to win four straight championships in a dominant run with Red Bull before jumping to Ferrari.

Rafael Nadal owns French Open for record-extending 11th title

French Open Highlights: Rafael Nadal comes out triumphant after bagging his record-tying 11th Roland Garros title

Rafael Nadal gets his 11th French Open title to tie Margaret Court’s 45-year-old record

If someone asks you why Rafael Nadal is called the “King of Clay,” just show him or her  Rafa’s record in the French Open.

Nadal took down first-time Grand Slam finalist Dominic Thiem in straight sets to bag a record-extending 11th French Open trophy. His win also marked an 11-0 finals record in the tournament, having missed the finals on only three previous occasions—in 2009, 2015 and 2016.

Moreover, the 32-year-old Spaniard is the second player in history to win the same Grand Slam 11 times. As mentioned in our French Open Finals highlights at us Blog, Margaret Court was the first one to do it after winning the Australian Open on 11 different occasions from 1960 to 1973.

More amazingly, no other man or woman has achieved La Undecima since the Open Era began in 1968.

“Coming back and to have the chance to win in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here, it’s very emotional for me,” Nadal said. “It was a very special moment and well received,  that minute or two minutes of the crowd supporting me. That feeling in that moment was difficult to describe it. Very emotional for me.”

“What really matters for me is have this trophy again with me. That means a lot. As everybody knows, for me is the most important tournament of the year. But I always say the same. Tennis is not only about Grand Slams. There’s much more tournaments, a lot of important tournaments that, for me, means a lot. But of course Roland Garros is always on the calendar and a special date.”

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French Open: This is Why Nadal is King!

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem (6-4, 6-3, 6-2)

Another day, another French Open title for Rafael Nadal.

Indeed, we might as well rename Roland Garros as the “Rafael Nadal Clay Grand Slam” with how the 32-year-old Spaniard became synonymous with the tournament.

Some fans backed Dominic Thiem to win. After all, the Austrian knows how to take down the World No.1 on clay, having beaten him at last year’s Italian Open and at the Madrid Open last month.

However, as this French Open final results proved, the King of Clay is on a whole different level compared to the 24-year-old Thiem.

Highlights of the game

Nadal had been the hot favourite to win the event after warming up with titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, and he did not disappoint as he made easy work of Thiem who never really threatened in his first Grand Slam final appearance.

Rafa breezed through in straight sets for his 11th French Open title, using his experience, athleticism and shot-making brilliance to wear down the seventh-seeded Austrian.

While he struggled with serves in his opening games against Diego Schwartzman and Juan Martin del Potro, Nadal had a dream start against Thiem as he won the first six points of the match to jump to a 2-0 lead.

Although Thiem battled back and saw off a break point to make it 2-2, he continuously gave Nadal plenty of chances on his own serve, eventually allowing the defending champion to break serve to close the set.

It was the same story in the second frame as Nadal stamped his authority for another 2-0 advantage. Thiem had a chance to cut the lead to just one in the seventh game of the set, but Nadal’s smarts shined bright as he broke his opponent’s momentum with a drop shot before firing a passing shot to make it 5-2.

Nadal won the set when Thiem sent a backhand long and wide.

French Open Final Results: Rafael Nadal shrugs off his cramp and continuously dominated the Roland Garros Final

Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Dominic Thiem during French Open Final

With the gigantic lead, the title was Nadal’s to lose. However, there were some concerns when he suffered from cramp in his left arm that required treatment, albeit controversially as tournament rules do not allow players to receive treatment for the specific issue.

Nadal held on at 5-2 and served out to finish Thiem’s ordeal.

“It’s amazing now, I can’t describe my feelings,” an emotional Nadal said after winning the Roland Garros trophy. “It’s not even a dream to win here 11 times, because it’s impossible to think of something like this.”

Key statistics

As what the French Open betting odds suggested, Nadal was purely dominant in the contest, winning 71 percent of his service points and 46 percent of his return points. Meanwhile, Thiem only won 54 percent off his service game and 29 percent on returns.

It didn’t help the young Austrian that his usually reliable serve didn’t click well, finishing with only seven service aces. He also ended up with five double faults on top of 42 unforced errors that doomed his chances of staging a comeback.

Besides his poor showing, Thiem acknowledged Nadal’s dominance on clay, saying: “Rafa is too much on clay. It’s kind of like a joke.”

And indeed, the stats also showed that. With the victory, Spain’s Raging Bull is now 86-2 at Roland Garros while winning a record-extending 11 titles—tied with Margaret Court for the most singles titles at the same Grand Slam event.

Court won 11 trophies in the Australian Open in the 1960s and 70s.

More amazingly, in his 11 finals appearances in Paris, Nadal has only lost a total of six sets on his way to an undefeated record.

What’s next?

With 17 Grand Slam titles, Nadal undoubtedly has his sights on matching Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20. Nonetheless, the top-rated star said that he is not that obsessed with matching or even surpassing his great rival.

“You can’t be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you,” Nadal said. “I’ve never been crazy about this kind of stuff. You can’t live with that feeling. You have to do your way.”

“I’d love to have 20 like Roger in the future or more, but it is not something in my mind. I know I’ve had an amazing career so I want to keep fighting for these things.”

French Open Final Results: Rafael Nadal eyes to continue his dominance when he battles with Roger Federer at Wimbledon

Roger Federer in action against Thanasi Kokkinakis during the Miami Open last March 24

Up next is the grass-court season which will culminate at Wimbledon. However, Nadal is up for a tough task as Roger Federer—the defending champion in the grass-court slam—recently returned to tennis at the Stuttgart Open after skipping the whole clay event.

 

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French Open: The King Dominates, Thiem Challenges

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem

If you think the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA Finals is the only David-vs-Goliath match that you’ll get to see before the World Cup starts, think again. There is still one match that many of the pundits here at us are looking forward to catching.

The Men’s Single final is slated to become an interesting match for neutral fans and the sports betting crowd. These two are enjoying great success on clay, but Rafael Nadal has garnered much better French Open betting odds than Dominic Thiem.

The Austrian will be embroiled in a tough contest, and it does seem like the odds are stacked against him. However, he has found relative success against the Spaniard last time out and won’t be afraid to try out new tactics against his opponent.

Talking Points

The match centres around one man and one man only. Nadal has continued to be outstanding on the clay and hasn’t looked back. He is the heavy favourite to win his eleventh Roland Garros title, and his performance on the court clearly explains why.

One of the biggest topics talked about among tennis-loving circles is Nadal’s new approach in receiving serves. Instead of standing just close enough to the backcourt, he stands so far back that he is out of the camera shot during live coverages.

Bet online now on heavy favourite Rafael Nadal as he is poised to win his 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Juan Martin Del Potro during their French Open semi-final clash

While this tactic would usually mean that a great amount of effort would be

Usually, this won’t work out fine against the many power servers that the ATP Pro Tour has. However, clay is disadvantageous for fast serves, and Nadal uses this fact to his advantage. His tactic in receives is so effective that even Thiem and many of the other top-ranking pros have adopted it through the clay season.

“If Nadal stands up in the court, in the traditional position around the baseline, then he has to deal with the normal power of the serve, which can create errors,” ATP Tour strategist Craig O’Shannessy told ESPN.

Moreover, the convincing way by which Nadal overpowered Juan Martin del Potro just adds to the already-impressive legend has built for himself on clay. He beat the Argentine 6-4 6-1 6-2 during the semi-final to make it to his eleventh final.

The 24-year-old Thiem does look like an underdog if he is put side-by-side with Nadal. However, the last thing you’d want to do is underestimate the Austrian. The lad has performed well in this tournament that it warrants for Nadal’s fans and the rest of the betting public to give the man some respect.

Thiem has performed well throughout the clay season and has snagged important victories against Kei Nishikori, Alexander Zverev and Marco Cecchinato. While his quarter-final win against Zverev has a question mark due to the German’s hamstring injury, but Zverev brushed those doubts aside and expressed his trust towards the Austrian.

“I think he can definitely go to the final,” Zverev said after his defeat. “It’s going to be between Rafa and him.

“I think he’s playing very heavy. I think he’s not missing much. I think he’s improved his serve a lot. So he’s definitely playing great tennis. You know, I think one of the three best players on the clay court in the last few years, and right now especially.”

History

Looking at the history of the French Open is not a good pick-me-up for Thiem because the Spaniard has dominated Roland Garros and much of the clay courts for more than a decade now. Seven of his ten French Open titles were won in the past decade, and his form at the moment suggests that this year will be Trophy No. 11 for him.

Nadal’s form in prior tournaments also gives him a major boost. His spectacular performance over Zverev in the Italian Open is encouraging for many of Rafa’s fans. While the young German did take a set from Nadal, the 32-year-old had the composure to keep his cool and take the W.

Thiem will need to look back to his performance against Nadal during the Madrid Masters for inspiration. He was simply unstoppable then and managed to choke Rafa’s chances at victory. Out of all the people in the French Open draw, he has the biggest chance of pulling off an incredible upset.

What are the Odds?

There are a plethora of interesting options if you head to the us tennis page.

Betting odds are not in the favour of Dominic Thiem as he will face the King of Clay in the Final

Dominic Thiem serves against Marco Cecchinato during their French Open semi-final clash

Both have played brilliant tennis on clay, and it is highly possible that this match would go the distance. I see Thiem at least taking a set here, so going for Thiem with a +1.50 Asian Handicap will reward punters with 2.63. If you have complete trust Thiem’s ability this season, going for his 4.12 Money Line odds is the way to go.

However, if you believe Nadal can make a big splash in the final, Nadal’s Game Handicap of -6.50 will give you 1.95.

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French Open: The Best Play on the Best Clay

2018 French Open

The stage is set, and the eyes of the tennis world are fixed on Paris, France!

The French Open is the biggest clay-court tournament in the calendar, and many are already looking forward to the plays they will be seeing from some of the best tennis stars in the world!

Betting sites will be especially busy in the coming days as there are a lot of matches to cover. Rafael Nadal is obviously the man to beat in the Men’s Singles, while the ladies of the Women’s Singles will find themselves to have an interesting race to the top.

Put on your thinking cap and sit on your favourite chair, because this preview will be a bit of a doozy.

Talking Points

Betting sites back Alexander Zverev to make a thrilling upset in Paris

Alexander Zverev reacts after winning a point against Marin Cilic at the Italian Open semi-final

Nadal is having a grand time on the clay this season and he is undoubtedly the biggest favourite to progress through the tournament. He put on a remarkable display that left many in awe of his talent, and his latest victory at Roma just solidifies his legacy as one o the best players to ever set foot on the clay courts.

However, Roland Garros bore witness to some of the most impressive underdog runs in the sport’s history. It won’t be surprising to see any of the players in the bracket take him out in a stunning upset. He best be careful not to trip during the Grand Slam’s opening stages.

Leading the charge for the rest of the pack are Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. Djokovic is slowly getting into form, and his performance in Roma is an indicator of what’s ahead for the players in his bracket. Meanwhile, Zverev is also looking to pounce. He’s had a great clay season and will be looking to add a first French Open to his trophy cabinet.

Of course, Roger Federer’s absence from the clay courts is a glaring fact that prevents the Men’s Singles from being one of the most exciting draws in the sport. However, it’s not like Federer has fully given up on playing in France. He revealed that he may play in the clay again at some point in the future. Until that happens, we sit and wait.

Meanwhile, the women’s game is a much more open field. Simona Halep is seeded first in the competition, but her inconsistency was in full display after Elina Svitolina knocked her out in Rome. With the World No 1 playing this way on clay, the rest of the players have a good shot at taking the trophy for themselves.

Angelique Kerber has a relatively easy path to the Last Eight and may run all the way to the title. Gabriñe Muguruza may also shock the world once more with another Cinderella run to the final. Serena Williams is making a comeback and will be a nightmare to deal with. Maria Sharapova is another tough cookie on the clay that will be rather tricky to defeat.

Naomi Osaka, Coco Vandeweghe, Johanna Konta, Venus Williams, and Caroline Wozniacki are the other impressive ladies that could make a splash in Paris.

The women’s game is much more entertaining to watch, in my opinion. I think even the best sportsbook will have a tough time identifying which lady will hoist the trophy in the end.

History

Maria Sharapova remains eager to prove herself to her fans and the top betting sites

Maria Sharapova serves the ball to Jelena Ostapenko during their quarter-final match at the Italian Open in Rome

History matters in this tournament and a peek at the history books will give you a clue on what to expect in this competition.

Nadal is loved by the clay as he has won ten of the last twelve French Open trophies. Federer, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka were the only ones to break the Spaniard’s monopoly in France. Given Nadal’s current performances in the early part of the clay season, there’s no reason for many to not choose the 31-year-old as the leading favourite to win it all again.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone like Alexander Zverev making a thrilling upset in Paris. The 21-year-old is playing some of best clay tennis in the Tour, making the idea of him winning the tournament a nice change of pace.

The Women’s Singles of the Roland Garros has been less predictable than its male counterpart. Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams took turns in lifting the trophy from 2013 to 2015. Muguruza shocked the world in 2016, and Ostapenko did the same in 2017.

The last two tournaments were won by talented young ladies that were not even booked as favourites to win the title. If this trend holds true, there wouldn’t be any surprises should a new face win the French Open this year.

What are the odds?

I am running out of words and synonyms to try and elaborate just how dominant Nadal has been on the clay this season. Bookies help me with my case after giving the Spaniard unsurprisingly low outright odds of 1.40.

Zverev is the second-lowest with his 8.00, while Nadal-beater Dominic Thiem is blessed with 11.00. Other significant ATP pros you should take note of include Djokovic (13.00), Wawrinka (51.00), Grigor Dimitrov (51.00) and Denis Shapovalov (81.00).

Meanwhile, Simona Halep is the heavy favourite among bookies in the Women’s Singles with her 4.00 outright odds. Maria Sharapova is a close second with her 6.00, and Elina Svitolina is not far behind with 6.50.

Muguruza (15.00), Petra Kvitova (15.00), Wozniacki (17.00), Osaka (41.00) and Williams (11.00) are some of the other ladies that are worth your attention.

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King of Clay: Nadal is Back to the Summit!

Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev (6-1, 1-6, 6-3)

A rain-drenched Italian Open final saw Rafael Nadal return to the top of the men’s standing at the expense of defending Rome champion Alexander Zverev.

Nadal has been on impeccable form on clay all season long; and despite his quarter-final defeat to Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Open a couple of weeks ago, he showed online gambling sites why he is the King of Clay and why he should never be counted out.

Sure enough, it wasn’t a walk in the park against Zverev, undoubtedly the only player who could argue to have a better clay performance than Nadal this year. However, Rafa showed his veteran savviness and turned the game around in a thrilling finale at Foro Italico.

Highlights of the game

Nadal opened the contest in style and looked to be on his way to an easy victory, but defending champion Zverev bounced back in the second set and led by two in the decider.

Following a lengthy rain delay, however, the Spaniard turned the live betting odds around to secure the victory and his eighth Italian crown.

Rafa cruised to the first set in just 32 minutes, with Zverev barely avoiding the bagel after Nadal dropped serve in the opening game. Nonetheless, what appeared to be another routine victory for the Spaniard turned into an online sports betting thriller as the German youngster blistered through the second.

Zverev took the initiative in the second frame and was aggressive throughout, using his sharp serve and crisp ball striking to overpower Nadal and move 5-0 up. It didn’t help the 31-year-old Nadal that he made a number of uncharacteristic errors as the 21-year-old Hamburg native levelled at 1-1.

Alexander Zverev has intensified the match after beating online gambling sites favourite Rafael Nadal during second set

World No. 3 Alexander Zverev serves the ball during the Italian Open Final against Rafael Nadal

The World No.3, who won nine of the next 11 games from the second set, led 3-1 going into an 11-minute rain delay in the decider. Nadal won the game after the restart, only to be halted by a longer rain delay.

It proved costly for Zverev as the delay took the momentum away from him and allowed Nadal to regain his composure. The German would not win a game after that as the King of Clay won four straight games, hitting a drop volley winner to close the match and clinch the title.

“When it happened, the rain delay, I didn’t feel in that moment that it would help me,” Nadal said after the match.

“That’s my feeling. It’s true that, if we analyse it now, of course, we can say that the rain delay helped me. But really, in my opinion, what helped me is that I came back with a clear idea in terms of tactical issues and in terms of decisions that I took after that break.”

Key statistics

Nadal won the contest and the title in roughly two hours and nine minutes, during which he fired 19 winners. Interestingly, according to ATP, Rafa also dominated the shorter rallies despite common views in the sport that the Spaniard is at his best in long rallies.

In rallies under five counts, Nadal won 33 times to Zverev’s 25. Furthermore, in rallies from single digits (0-9), the former won 62 times while the latter only had 51.

Zverev hit a total of 21 winners in the match, but his 28 unforced errors doomed his shot at defending his title and winning a rare double—having won the Madrid Open title recently.

Nadal is now 5-0 against Zverev. He defeated the #NextGen star while representing Spain in the Davis Cup last month.

What’s next?

Nadal’s victory allowed him to return to the top of the men’s standing after losing it to Roger Federer due to his poor Madrid stint.

He also got a piece of history with the trophy—his 78th overall—as he surpassed John McEnroe for the most Open Era titles. He’s currently in fourth place behind Jimmy Connors, Federer and Ivan Lendl.

Moreover, he extended his record to 32 Masters 1000 title, two more than Novak Djokovic’s collection.

Meanwhile, despite the defeat that snapped his 13-match winning streak, Zverev will rise to the top of the ATP Race to London leaderboard. He already has a tour-leading 30 wins this year, five more than second-placed Dominic Thiem and seven ahead of third-placers Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.

Online gambling sites are backing Rafael Nadal to seal another trophy in the upcoming French Open

Rafael Nadal poses with the trophy after winning his tenth French Open title in 2017 against Stan Wawrinka

The two players are now headed to Roland Garros for the French Open. Betting sites favourite Nadal, who won the title in 2017,  is aiming for the ‘Undécima’ at the clay grand slam; and his latest win is undoubtedly a warning to all his rivals that are eyeing to stop him.

Zverev, on the other hand, will hope to replicate the form that rattled Nadal in this contest and build from it to win his first major title.

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