Rafael Nadal slumps to disappointing Queens defeat

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Disappointing: Nadal.

Rafael Nadal insists it was just one of those days, but the omens are not looking good for the Spaniard heading into Wimbledon as he suffered a shock first-round exit at Queen’s Club to unheralded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.

– #QUIZ360: WIN one-month gym membership at FitRepublik
– Rafael Nadal beats Viktor Troicki to win Stuttgart Open
– ON THE RADAR, June 15-21: Elite Squash Festival

Nadal’s dismal defeat against the world No 79 is the latest in a growing list of lacklustre performances in a troubled 2015 campaign for the former world number one.

The 14-time grand slam winner was beaten at the French Open for only the second time in his career when Novak Djokovic won their quarter-final clash in Paris.

As a result, Nadal’s ranking has plunged to 10th – his lowest position for a decade – and to add insult to injury he will now head to Wimbledon, which gets underway later this month, with renewed questions about a decline that hit another low with this setback in west London.

Nadal tried to downplay the significance of the 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 defeat, saying: “It’s a loss. I didn’t play bad at all and fought until the end. Games on grass are like this.

“I played an uncomfortable player. Sometimes just a few things decide matches here and I wasn’t lucky enough. I probably didn’t play aggressive enough when I had the break in the third set.”

Nadal, back at Queen’s for the first time in four years, wasn’t expected to have any problems with Dolgopolov after the confidence booster of winning the grass-court tournament in Stuttgart last week – his first title on the surface since lifting the Wimbledon crown five years ago.

But Dolgopolov had won his last meeting with Nadal – at Indian Wells last year – and dominated from the baseline as he took the first set. In a dramatic second set tie-break, Nadal saved a Dolgopolov match point with a nerveless serve and went on to level the match.

Nadal looked firmly in control after breaking in the third game of the final set, but he let the momentum, and a 4-2 lead, slip away when, after being given a warning for a time violation, he allowed Dolgopolov to break back.

There was more frustration for Nadal at 4-4 when he wasted three break points and that proved the decisive moment after Dolgopolov unloaded a searing winner on match-point in the next game to steal a sensational victory.

Dolgopolov said: “It’s as good as I’ve played on grass. I like to frustrate opponents and make it uncomfortable for them.”

Meanwhile, three-time champion Andy Murray had no such problems as he saw off Taiwanese qualifier Lu Yen-Hsun 6-4, 7-5

 The 28-year-old was never at his best against Lu, who enjoyed one of the best moments of his career when he defeated Murray at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But the 2013 Wimbledon winner had enough guile to eventually subdue the 31-year-old world No 63 and set up a second-round clash with Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

“I felt like I moved pretty well. I didn’t start serving so well. But I hit the ball well from the back of the court,” Murray said. “I’ve had good runs here. It’s an extremely strong field this year so I’ll have to play great tennis.”

French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka returned to action after his Paris triumph with a 6-3, 6-4 dismissal of Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios.

The Swiss second seed swept through his first-clash in just 49 minutes to set up a second-round meeting with big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.

There was better news for another promising Australian as 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-4 to earn a clash with French seventh seed Gilles Simon, a 6-7 (6/8), 7-5, 6-2 winner against Belgium’s David Goffin.

Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov moved into the second round, where he faces Gilles Muller, after a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against 2010 winner Sam Querrey

Most popular

Related Sections

Andy Murray confident of taking rich form onto grass

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Confident: Andy Murray.

Andy Murray believes he is in the form of his life as he prepares to kick off his grass court campaign in the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club.

– #QUIZ360: WIN one-month gym membership at FitRepublik
– Rafael Nadal beats Viktor Troicki to win Stuttgart Open
– ON THE RADAR, June 15-21: Elite Squash Festival

Murray arrives for the west London event in fine fettle after winning his first clay titles in Madrid and Munich before reaching the French Open semi-finals.

After a frustrating 2014 marred by recovery from back surgery and an unwanted parting with coach Ivan Lendl, there is a real spring in Murray’s step again.

The 28-year-old Scot has been in a rich vein of form since marrying Kim Sears two months ago and took great encouragement from the way he pushed Novak Djokovic to five sets in Paris.

And he says he is finally back to the peak performances that brought him grand slam titles at the US Open and Wimbledon.

“Last year was very difficult because the first six months were hard coming off the surgery. I maybe didn’t expect it to be that hard,” Murray said.

“But this year I’ve felt ready to win major competitions again. It’s huge progress from where I was last year. The grass suits my play much more than clay and hopefully if I can take the form from the clay onto grass I can have good results.”

Still Murray knows it would be unwise to make too many bold predictions about his chances of winning a fourth Queen’s title or second Wimbledon crown.

“In Australia I felt I was playing very good tennis, similar to the level when I won in New York, then the clay was the best I’ve played and closest I’ve come to reaching the final in Paris,” said Murray, who faces qualifier Yen-Hsun Lu in the Queen’s first round.

“But things change in a few days. No one would have thought Stan (Wawrinka) would end up winning in Paris. So just because I’m playing well now it doesn’t mean I’m going to be playing well in a couple of weeks.

“Likewise if I played badly here it doesn’t mean I’m going to have a bad Wimbledon.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Rafael Nadal wins Stuttgart Open after straight sets victory

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Rafael Nadal reacts to a point during his straight sets win over Viktor Troicki.

Rafael Nadal earned his second title of the season and his fourth on grass as he defeated Serb Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 on Sunday to become the first man to triumph on both clay and turf at the Stuttgart Open.

The Spanish top seed set another minor record, as he won the inagural grass edition after taking clay trophies here in 2005 and 2007. Stuttgart made the switch to grass starting with this edition as part of the new Wimbledon pre-season.

– #QUIZ360: WIN one-month gym membership at FitRepublik
– ON THE RADAR, June 15-21: Elite Squash Festival

Nadal’s 66th career title marked his second in 2015 after claiming a trophy on South American clay last February. The Spaniard now owns two grass titles at Wimbledon plus 2008 Queen’s Club, London and now Stuttgart.

The 14-time grand slam champion who is ranked 10th, polished his record against eighth seed Troicki to 5-0, last facing the Serb in a Tokyo semi-final nearly five years ago. Nadal took victory as he played his his 95th career final, now standing 66-29 in finals.

His last grass final came at Wimbledon in 2011 when he lost to Novak Djokovic. Troicki was playing his seventh career final – and first on grass – and now stands 2-5 in title matches.

Nadal’s victory boosted him to 33-10 this season as he prepares for what he hopes is a better second half of 2015. He is now 17-2 in Stuttgart, where he last competed eight years ago.

“I’m not bothered by the expectations of others,” said the 29-year-old. “I’m only motivated by my own goals, There is no pressure on me.”

“It’s fantastic to win here on grass after winning on clay. Victor is a tough opponent.

“But I’ve been gaining confidence over the past month and a half after a very poor first three and a half months of this season.

“I’ve been feeling my game better since after my first match in Monte Carlo (mid-April). It was mentally tiring for me to play tennis in the first part of the year. I was not feeling comfortable on court.

“I was not able to play the way that I wanted. I didn’t feel confidence. But that has been changing and my focus now if to prepare as best as I can for Wimbledon.”

Nadal added: “My level has always been there, I’ve not forgotten how to play tennis. But now things are coming together for me.”

Nadal spent 48 minutes in winning the opening set, which he took into a tiebreaker with a love game. The top seed grabbed the early 4-2 lead in the decider and fired a ninth ace to wrap up the opener.

In the second, the Spaniard broke for 3-1 and took victory on his third match point, ending with 11 aces in the 88-minute contest.

Most popular

Related Sections