Rafael Nadal slams planned Catalonia independence referendum

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The stadium at the Barcelona tournament is named after Rafael Nadal.

Spanish world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has criticised plans for an independence referendum called by Catalonia’s pro-separatist government for October 1.

The referendum is deemed illegal by the Spanish government and the country’s Constitutional Court.

“I think what is happening on October 1 ought not to take place because, from my point of view, everyone should respect the law,” Nadal told Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Tuesday.

“The laws are what they are and one can’t skip the laws because you want to skip them. I can’t run a red light because that traffic light doesn’t seem right to me.”

Nadal, 31, is a national hero in his homeland having landed a 16th career Grand Slam at the US Open on Sunday.

However, Nadal, who grew up and lives on the Balearic island of Mallorca, is also a Catalan speaker. This year the centre court at Barcelona’s Royal tennis Club that hosts the Barcelona Open was renamed the Rafael Nadal Court.

“I feel very close to the Catalans and I feel very Spanish as well,” Nadal added. “I don’t understand Spain without Catalonia. I don’t want to understand or see it.

“I believe that together we ought to be able to understand each other and I think we have to make an effort to reach an understanding because I think we are, without any doubt, stronger together than separated.

“Spain is better with Catalonia and Catalonia is better with Spain from my point of view.”

* Provided by AFP

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Top seeds Rafael Nadal and Karolina Pliskova cruise through to quarter-finals at US Open

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Into the quarter-finals: Nadal.

World number one Rafael Nadal notched up his 50th win at the US Open on Monday to reach the quarter-finals for the seventh time.

The two-time champion, who could meet old rival Roger Federer in New York for the first time at the semi-final stage, crushed Ukraine’s Alexander Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.

The 31-year-old Spaniard goes on to face either 19-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia or Belgian ninth seed David Goffin for a place in the last-four.

“I played a solid match with not many mistakes,” said Nadal, the reigning French Open champion.

“He’s a player who can play amazing shots but sometimes he can be very unpredictable with errors so I just waited for my opportunity.”

Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion in New York, showed no signs of the struggles that bedeviled him in the two previous rounds, when he dropped the opening set before prevailing in four.

His 23 winners on Monday were just shaded by world number 64 Dolgopolov’s 25 but the Ukrainian’s 39 unforced errors were more than three times those committed by Nadal.

Federer, bidding for a sixth US Open and 20th major, will tackle Philipp Kohlschreiber later Monday.

After stretching his runs of dominance over Mikhail Youzhny to 17-0 and Feliciano Lopez to 13-0, the 36-year-old Federer takes an 11-0 advantage into his night-time duel with German 33rd seed Kohlschreiber.

The remaining last-16 tie of the day sees 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, the 24th seeded Argentine, up against Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem.

Thiem, who was forced to quit with injury against del Potro at the same stage in 2016, celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016, needed just 46 minutes to sweep past Jennifer Brady of the United States 6-1, 6-0 and make her third Slam quarter-final of 2017.

The tall Czech had needed back-to-back three-setters to get to the last 16, including having to save a match point against Zhang Shuai of China in the third round.

But the 25-year-old world number one fired 23 winners on Sunday while the outclassed Brady, the 91st-ranked player, managed just six in her quickfire demolition.

Pliskova will next face either 37th-ranked compatriot Lucie Safarova or US 20th seed CoCo Vandeweghe for a place in the semi-finals.

“I think it was one of my best matches this year,” said Pliskova.

“But the opponent was not the best. Definitely she can play better than she was playing today.”

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic serves against Jennifer Brady of the United States during their Women's Singles fourth round match on Day Eight of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Pliskova made light work of her clash on Monday.


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Rafael Nadal complains of 'too much noise' from the stands at the US Open following win over Dusan Lajovic

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Rafael Nadal has conquered the French Open 10 times and battled career-threatening knee and wrist injuries, but his greatest challenge awaits him — telling rowdy New Yorkers to be quiet.

The world number one and two-time US Open champion took his first-round record at the season’s concluding Grand Slam to 13-0 on Tuesday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

But with torrential rain lashing the Flushing Meadows site, the roof on the showpiece Arthur Ashe stadium was shut tight, creating a giant echo-chamber for the boisterous crowd of 24,000 beneath.

“Being honest, it (the noise) is a little bit too much,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard, whose Grand Slam collection of 15 titles includes the 2010 and 2013 US Open crowns.

“The energy and support of the crowd is massive. I enjoy it and I have unforgettable memories from this tournament and this court, because the energy is different from in other places.

“But at the same time, under the roof, it’s too much noise. I was not able to hear the ball when hitting. I understand it’s a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise. All the noise stays inside, and this is difficult.”

Nadal’s complaints echoed similar concerns made by Andy Murray last year when the huge $150 million roof over the world’s biggest Tennis stadium was rolled into action for the first time.

Murray, the 2012 champion, claimed that when the rain was bouncing off the outside of the roof, it was impossible to hear line calls inside.

Even the umpire in that match appealed to spectators to cut the volume, a desperate and often futile appeal during the tournament’s famed night sessions when the alcohol-fueled atmosphere is not for the meek.

Nadal said the noise on Tuesday meant that he was unable to hear the ball and that his opponent couldn’t hear him when he asked for a service game to be delayed.

Meanwhile, Nadal said he was equally flummoxed by Murray’s decision to withdraw from the US Open last Saturday — after the draw had been made.

Murray was suffering from a hip injury and his decision to pull out of the event, where he would have been second seed, came too late to affect Nadal’s half of the draw which he shares with old rival Roger Federer.

“Was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made,” said Nadal.

“You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. If not, you can do it before the draw. That’s why I say it’s strange.”

“Was something that is a little difficult to understand, but the worst thing is he is not healthy and I wish him a very fast recovery.”

Provided by AFP

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