Nick Kyrgios sets about fixing Rafael Nadal relationship but retains Roger Federer belief

Nick Kyrgios has hailed Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard recently matched Roger Federer’s total of 20 Grand Slam titles. However, the Australian insisted that Federer was still the best of all time despite being drawn level. Kyrgios has played against both players on multiple times throughout his career.

Nadal was sensational as he cruised to a 13th French Open title earlier in the month, beating Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to pick up the trophy.

That victory means the Spaniard is now level with Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles at five years the Swiss star’s junior.

Kyrgios has had his issues with Nadal over the years but has now hailed the 45-year-old for his remarkable achievement, in respectful comments made to Courtside Huddle.

“Unbelievable. I wasn’t surprised when I saw Rafa pretty much easing through the draw at the French Open,” he said.

“That’s his backyard. He loves playing there. I think he’s lost two matches there in his entire career.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’re ever going to see anything like that again.

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“Someone so dominant on one surface and he’s right there with the greatest of all time. You can argue he is the greatest.

“We had our differences when we played each other. We’re fiery, we’re competitors and are going to go after each other.

“But at the same time I am not going to take anything away from him . He’s an absolute champion and 20 Grand Slams is ridiculous and I don’t think we are ever going to see that again.”

Kyrgios does, however, think Federer remains the greatest player to ever grace the court.

“In my opinion, I’ve played all three of them, I think Andy Murray is right up there as well,” said the Australian.

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“You look at Federer, he’s the most dominant player of all time, but in this era it’s actually Rafa. It’s a debate you can have.

“A lot of players will tell you Rafa’s the GOAT, Novak’s the GOAT.

“But in my opinion, Federer is still [the GOAT]. I think he’s almost like a [Michael] Jordan status type thing.

“He was the guy that was so dominant on every kind of surface.

“I think the way he plays the game is something special.”

Federer could have been forgiven for feeling irked by Nadal’s latest achievement but, speaking after the Spaniard won the French Open, had nothing but kind words.

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“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” the Swiss great tweeted.

He then added: “I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us.

“As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players.

“Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory. It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.

“I also congratulate his team because nobody can do this alone,” Federer, 39, added. “Well done Rafa. You deserve it.”

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Dan Evans wins quarter-final against Karen Khachanov in Antwerp

British No 1 Dan Evans made it through to the semi-finals of the European Open in Antwerp after winning a spicy encounter against Karen Khachanov.

Evans’ hopes of becoming the third successive Briton to win the tournament are still alive after a 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory over the third seed, who was lucky to avoid disqualification.

The match was marred by an explosive rant by Khachanov towards umpire Adel Nour, furious at a line call in a second set tie-break.

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Having won the first set, the Russian was looking to get the job done comfortably and thought he had forced a match point when Evans looked to have hit a forehand wide in a tense tie-break.

With no Hawkeye, he was reliant on the umpire to overrule the line judge and when it did not come, Khachanov tore into umpire Nour.

He said: “It’s a joke, it’s a joke. Everyone can see it was out. Are you drunk today?

“What are you doing here? What are you doing here? You don’t need to be here.

“It’s a joke, with these guys you need to see every ball.”

Evans then took the second set at the next point as the Russian kicked the net and then hit the umpire’s chair with his racket.

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Khachanov was unable to shake off his fury and Evans immediately broke in the final set before seeing out the win.

He will play Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the last four, hoping to continue the British dominance in Antwerp.

Kyle Edmund won the tournament in 2018 and then Andy Murray capped a remarkable comeback victory last year.

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Dan Evans reaches European Open semi-final after Khachanov fightback

Dan Evans reaches European Open semi-final after superb comeback against third seed Karen Khachanov

  • Dan Evans beat Karen Khachanov 3-6 7-6 6-4 in European Open quarter-final
  • British number one produced a fightback to overcome Russian in tetchy match 
  • Russian Khachanov struck the umpires chair with his racket at a key line call
  • Evans will try to emulate fellow Brits Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray to take title

Dan Evans scored one of his best wins of the year last night to make the last four at the European Open, a tournament where British players have curiously established a winning habit.

The GB number one defeated world number 17 Karen Khachanov 3-6 7-6 6-4 in a sometimes tetchy encounter which saw the Russian strike the umpire’s chair with his racket in protest at a key line call.

This weekend Evans, who will now meet Frenchman Ugo Humbert, will try and emulate Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray, who have won this event in Antwerp for the last two years.

British no 1 Dan Evans reached European Open semi-final with win over Karen Khachanov

The Midlander produced a superb comeback to beat the Russian third seed 3-6 7-6 6-4

The match turned at 7-7 in the tiebreak when Evans was awarded the point on a marginal line call when he hit a forehand winner.

The usually placed Russian became so angry at the refusal to overrule that he kicked a sponsor sign in the net and then whacked the chair of umpire Adel Nour before storming off for a toilet break. Replays suggested the line judge had correctly seen the ball just clip the line.

For the 30 year-old Midlander, who split with coach Mark Hilton last week, it was a seventh top twenty win of this truncated season.

Evans will face Ugo Humbert in the last four as he looks to emulate recent other Brit winners

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Novak Djokovic confirms he will skip Paris Masters next month

Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will not defend his Paris Masters title in the French capital next month because he has no points to win as he bids retain the world No 1 spot come the end of the season.

Djokovic, who won the tournament last year, will not lose any points for skipping the event because the ATP Tour’s revised ranking system due to the Covid-19 pandemic allows players to retain points from last year.

The Serb clinched a record 36th ATP Masters crown when he won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome last month, surpassing Rafael Nadal, who confirmed he would enter the Paris Masters after winning his 13th French Open title on October 11.

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“I won’t play in Paris as I can’t add to my points tally but I will go to Vienna and London,” Djokovic told Wednesday’s edition of Belgrade daily Sportski Zurnal.

“I can win up to 500 points in Vienna as I didn’t play there last year and there are also a lot of points available in London.”

Nadal, who equalled Roger Federer’s record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles when he blew Djokovic away in the French Open final, has not entered the tournament in Vienna but is expected to take part in the ATP Finals in London.

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Asked if he was content to allow Nadal to catch up with him in the Masters race, Djokovic said: “It’s not my priority. My immediate task is to collect as many points as I can in a bid to put as much distance between myself and the chasing pack ahead of next season.

“I want to go down in history as the world No 1 with the most weeks at the top of the ATP Tour and I will do all I can to make it happen.

“Whether Nadal plays in Paris or not changes nothing because it’s all in my hands.”

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Dan Evans speaks out after split with coach Mark Hilton

British No. 1 Dan Evans ended a five-match losing streak on Tuesday but faces a search for a new coach after splitting with Mark Hilton.

Evans beat Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 6-2 3-6 6-3 in Antwerp to register his first win since the US Open after trips to Rome, Hamburg, Paris and St Petersburg all ended in defeat.

Despite struggling to notch up wins in recent weeks, Birminham-born Evans has hit a career-high ranking of 28 during this season and seemed settled with Hilton.

However, their working relationship has, amicably, been brought to a close – in large part due to Hilton’s desire to have greater job security with British tennis’ governing body, the Lawn Tennis Assocation (LTA).

‘We stopped by mutual consent last week,’ said Evans. ‘Hilts is going to go back to the LTA.

‘There was a secondment agreement with the LTA and then I didn’t want to carry that on for one reason or another and I simply asked him if he wanted to, and he wanted to go back into the LTA so he wanted to stick with the federation and for security that’s understandable. So that’s basically it.

Mark Hilton on his split with Dan Evans

‘After discussing our plans for 2021, Dan and I have made the mutual decision to part ways at the end of November.  Both of us are very proud of our collaboration this year, helping Dan achieve a career-high ranking of No.28, seven wins over Top 20 players and reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final.  I’m looking forward to takingthe experience I have gained over the last three years at the highest levels of the ATP Tour and re-investing that back into the LTA’s Men’s Tennis team for the benefit of our British players and coaches.’

‘There’s nothing more to it than that, we didn’t fall out it was just simply he didn’t want to go privately with me. Which is perefectly understandable in his situation.

‘I can hand on heart tell you I’ll still be playing golf with him and still speak to him. So before you get your normal stuff there’s no issues there at all. It’s a decision we came to and we are both fine with.’

Hilton, 39, had a previous spell with Evans that was brought to a halt after he tested positive for cocaine in 2017, while he has also worked with compatriots Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund.

‘I wouldn’t say it’s a blow,’ added Evans. ‘Hilts is… it’s a bit of a decision for him. It’s not an easy decision, he has family, he is married, maybe he didn’t want to travel so much, I don’t know.

‘The job which he will go back into with the LTA is maybe not so stressful. It’s a bit less travelling and that’s maybe what he wanted to do.

‘There’s a good deal of security there working for the governing body and maybe a few months down the line he thought he might have got sacked. It can happen, you know.

‘I totally understand, I put him in a difficult position asking him to do that and his answer was simply no and listen that is perfectly fine.’

Evans will now be on the lookout for a new coach and revealed he already had one contender in mind to see him through the Australian summer at the start of next season.

‘I have had one conversation and that’s with an Australian guy, Chris Johnstone, he is in Australia and logistically that would work for pre-season and the Aussie summer,’ said Evans.

‘I have asked if he would be prepared to do that and do a trial. And we’re gonna jump on a call this week. Listen, it might not be right for him either. It might not be right for me. So we are just gonna jump on a call and see.

‘I know him a little bit, he coached George Loffhagen so we will see what that holds . It’s not simple stuff now with the pre-season, no-one really knows what will happen.

‘Like it might not be an option to take [Kieran] Vorster [Evans’ fitness coach] to Australia either, I might have to use someone out there, who knows, I don’t know what the parameters are gonna be, I heard it’s three people so hopefully it is, but who knows.’

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Roger Federer snubs Novak Djokovic, exposes awkward truth

Another chapter was added to the debate about who the greatest male tennis player of all time is when Rafael Nadal claimed his 13th French Open title earlier this week.

The Spaniard blitzed Novak Djokovic in straight sets to equal Roger Federer on 20 career grand slam crowns, while the Serbian missed the chance to edge closer to his fiercest rivals and remains next best with 17 majors.

All the talk in the aftermath was about Nadal and Federer, and who would be the first to break the deadlock by winning 21 grand slams before the other. Even though Federer wasn’t playing in Paris — he’s out of action for the year recovering from a knee injury — the Swiss Maestro was front and centre of the post-match analysis.

The 39-year-old then put himself even more firmly in the frame with a classy message congratulating Nadal that went viral on social media. Federer praised his “greatest rival” saying, among other things, “I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and a champion”.

Yet the love-in between Federer and Nadal — and the way the tennis world swooned over the pair — highlighted once again no matter how great Djokovic’s claim is to being the GOAT, he still remains an outsider among the Big Three.

“It does make me feel a bit for Novak Djokovic because even on the day that was supposed to be about Djokovic and Nadal, their 56th meeting in the most prolific rivalry in men’s tennis, it still ended up being about Nadal and Federer,” broadcaster Catherine Whitaker said on The Tennis Podcast.

“He was still the third wheel even on a day when Federer wasn’t playing.”

As BBC tennis commentator David Law pointed out, it didn’t help that Federer’s message made no mention of Djokovic whatsoever. No commiserations or congratulations for getting to the final in the first place.

“Federer didn’t mention him in the note, which I must admit I did look down and I thought, ‘Oh, no, can’t see that’. Maybe that’s just an oversight,” Law told The Tennis Podcast.

“I thought he might have done, just to say ‘unlucky’, but here we are.”

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Federer attracted more headlines than Djokovic without even playing in Paris.Source:AFP

Unfortunately for him, being excluded from Federer-Nadal GOAT discussions, and being relegated to a lower rung than those two, is something Djokovic is used to. He’s been openly jeered on centre courts at Wimbledon and the Australian Open during finals he’s gone on to win, because the crowd simply liked the bloke on the other side of the net more.

All the chat about Federer and Nadal after the Roland Garros decider must have stung Djokovic. He’s said repeatedly his goal is to win the most grand slams of all time, and break Federer’s record for most weeks spent as world No. 1 (310).

But the top-ranked player on the planet wasn’t feeling the love.

And what about Federer referring to Nadal as his “greatest rival” after Djokovic, ahead of his blockbuster meeting on clay with the left-hander, said of him and Nadal: “Our head-to-head is the biggest head-to-head ever in the history of the sport … he’s definitely my greatest rival.”

Apart from being pulled up for ignoring rivalries in women’s tennis with that claim, there must be a part of Djokovic that feels miffed at why Federer classes Nadal, rather than him, as his biggest adversary.

After all, Federer and Nadal have met 40 times (Nadal leads 24-16) while Djokovic and the Fed Express have met 50 times, with the Serbian boasting a 27-23 record.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has beaten Nadal 29 times and lost 27 of their 56 matches.

The Big Three are in a league of their own but no matter how hard to tries to crack it, there’s a sense Federer and Nadal are part of an even more exclusive club Djokovic will never gain access to.

Maybe that will change if he does become the outright slams leader, but after everything Djokovic has brought upon himself — think spreading COVID-19 on his dreaded Adria Tour, his anti-vaccination chat and hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball at the US Open — there’s a real risk no amount of trophies is ever going to be enough for the 33-year-old to achieve what he desperately craves more than anything — respect.

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Cameron Norrie beaten in quarter-finals of St Petersburg Open

Cameron Norrie was well beaten by third seed Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals of the St Petersburg Open.

British No 3 Norrie had reached the last eight with strong wins over Taylor Fritz and Miomir Kecmanovic but proved to be no match for world No 10 Rublev.

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The Russian broke Norrie’s serve five times and saved the only break point he faced in a 6-2 6-1 victory.

Norrie will have the consolation of moving up five places in the rankings to number 70 on Monday.

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Andy Murray admits to losing sight of his natural game following first-round exit in Cologne

Andy Murray has conceded he needs to return to playing his own game after he lost in straight sets in the first round of the bett1HULKS Indoors ATP event in Cologne.

The former world No1 fell to veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Germany, which followed him tumbling out of the French Open with a straight-sets first-round loss as he battles back from hip surgery.

“I need to get back to playing my game on the court, I’ve kind of gone away from that a little bit,” he said.

“I’m maybe making a few more mistakes than usual because of that.”

The 33-year-old was handed a wildcard in Cologne, where he showed plenty of his competitive determination with a number of crucial breaks against Verdasco.

The former world No7, however, proved too strong and eventually progressed 6-4 6-4 after one hour and 40 minutes.

The Scot admitted there were “a lot of things” he would need to improve.

“I need to practice, I need to play matches and physically I need to get better,” he said.

“Some things I did a little bit better, but overall it was not that much better than that match [against Stan Wawrinka in Paris].

“It’s a surface that I’m a little bit more comfortable on, so that probably helped me. But in terms of my game, it was not much better.”

Murray vowed to have “a long, hard think” after suffering the joint worst Grand Slam defeat of his career to Wawrinka in the first round at Roland Garros, where he won just six games.

He reached the second round of the US Open in September but remains outside the world’s top 100.


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Roger Federer, other stars celebrate Rafael Nadal’s historic day at the 2020 French Open

Rafael Nadal made history on Sunday as he defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the 2020 French Open men’s final to earn his 20th major title and 13th at Roland Garros. He is now tied with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam victories by a man in the Open era (since 1968) and is just the fifth player — male or female — to reach the 20-major milestone.

It was a nearly flawless performance by Nadal, who needed just two hours and 41 minutes to dismantle the world No. 1 and earn his 100th win on the Parisian clay. It was the ninth career meeting in a major final between the two longtime rivals — and 56th clash overall — but one of the more lopsided results.

“Today you showed why you’re the ‘King of Clay,'” Djokovic said to Nadal during the trophy presentation. “I’ve experienced it in my own skin. It was a very tough match for me today. Obviously, I’m not so pleased with the way I played. I was definitely overplayed by a better player today on the court.”

Nadal didn’t drop a set during the tournament, and it marked the fourth time he won the title match at Roland Garros in straight sets. The 34-year-old Spaniard had just 14 unforced errors on the day compared to 52 for Djokovic.

The limited but lively crowd showed its adoration for the “King of Clay” following the match, and those watching from home were no different. Tennis legends, current players — including Federer and newly crowned women’s champion Iga Swiatek — and other athletes and celebrities from around the world showered Nadal in praise after his astounding display.

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Nadal schools Djokovic in French Open final to equal Federer's Grand Slam record

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer’s all-time men’s Grand Slam record by thrashing Novak Djokovic in the French Open final.

Nadal, now a 13-time champion at Roland Garros, was at his devastating best on Sunday afternoon, winning 6-0 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes. He didn’t drop a set throughout the tournament.

It was his 100th win on the Parisian clay and it brought him a 20th major title – the same total as Federer and now the joint-highest in the men’s game.

The ruthless manner of this victory, despite Nadal’s pedigree at this tournament – where he has only lost twice in 102 matches, was something breathtaking.

Nadal had not beaten Djokovic at a Slam since winning the final here in 2014 and Djokovic had only lost one match – via default at the US Open – this season.

But his first proper defeat of the year in 39 matches was as brutal as they come, as Nadal exerted his dominance over the world No. 1.

It was all the more humorous, in hindsight, that both players agreed pre-tournament that these heavier, colder October conditions, compared to the usual June finish, would favour Djokovic, with Nadal described as more ‘beatable’ in 2020.

That couldn’t have looked further from the case, particularly in the first two sets, as Djokovic, 33, failed to land a glove on the 34-year-old world No. 2 from Spain.

Djokovic will perhaps look back with regret at his refusal to move away from a tactic that saw him throw in drop-shots with ridiculous frequency, but with Nadal in this form, it’s hard to find any tactical shift that would have brought about a different outcome.

He was strangely flat until breaking Nadal for the first time midway through the third set. A roar did bring about a fleeting shift in momentum as the real Djokovic finally arrived but it was too little too late.

It now seems inevitable that Nadal will surpass Federer, 39, in the GOAT (greatest of all time) race.

While a second title in Australia seems unlikely if Djokovic, who has won eight titles there, is on song, he will fancy his chances of being the outright Slam leader at this event in six months time. With Federer in his 40th year, it would take something extraordinary to win another major.

Djokovic has been utilising the drop-shot regularly during this tournament and threw in five – with varying degrees of success – in the opening game.

Despite having been 40-15 up, Djokovic was broken – failing to put his opponent away with a smash on break point – as Nadal drew first blood on Chatrier.

A netted backhand from the world No. 1 handed Nadal a double break as he took a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

There were some mesmerising rallies but it was Nadal who was winning the big points. He staved off two break points and went on to break Djokovic for a third time, despite the Serb leading 40-0.

Nadal made no mistake in force-feeding the bagel – arguably the most competitive 6-0 set you will ever see.

Djokovic finally got on the board after 55 minutes. He staved off three break points to hold at the start of the second set.

But for the fourth time in five service games, he was broken again as Nadal tightened his grip on the match.

Another break two games later saw Nadal win his 10th game of the match, with Djokovic still only winning one.

He added a second to make the scoreline slightly more respectable but with an hour and 35 minutes gone, he was 6-0 6-2 down and staring down the barrel of defeat.

A break in the fourth game of the third set appeared to signal the end for the top seed but there was a sudden roar of emotion from the otherwise flat Serb as he hit back and then held for 4-3.

But despite sparking a brief spell of improvement, it ultimately didn’t change the course of the match, a double fault handed Nadal a chance to serve for the match – which he took – and the ‘King of Clay’ once again reigned supreme in Paris.

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