Nadal & Del Potro's Wimbledon Battle: 'Rafa Is Rafa'

Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro are known for their courage on court. Both men would need it in what turned into a heavyweight showdown in the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finals.

The always-motivated Nadal was hungry for a breakthrough at the All England Club that year, having failed to reach the quarter-finals since 2011. The Spaniard had only earned a 7-5 record in his five most recent appearances at SW19.

But Nadal carried plenty of momentum into the grass-court major. He was the second seed behind Roger Federer, but Nadal was the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The lefty was also fresh off his 11th Roland Garros title.

Del Potro was finally back in top form after three left wrist surgeries in 2014 and 2015 kept him out of the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings until September 2016. The Argentine hadn’t made it past the third round at The Championships since 2013, but he only lost one set en route to the 2018 quarter-finals.

Nadal only dropped seven games against Del Potro in that year’s Roland Garros semi-finals, but the ‘Tower of Tandil’ pushed him to the brink at Wimbledon. Nadal needed four hours and 48 minutes to battle past Del Potro 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"I think I played really good tennis today, but Rafa is Rafa," Del Potro said. "Sometimes you play your best tennis and it's not enough to beat him.”

Nadal, Del Potro

It appeared Nadal was poised to take a two-set lead when he led 6/3 in the second-set tie-break, but that’s where the match turned.

Nadal double faulted at 6/5 to allow Del Potro back into the tie-break. The Argentine took full advantage at 8/7, his first set point, striking a cross-court forehand that hit the net cord and bounced too low for Nadal.

"Of course I was worried when I lost the second set,” Nadal said. "Winning 6/3 in the tie-break, it's true that he played two great points with his serve, but then I made a very important mistake. That double fault was a big mistake. That's how it is. Then the match changed. He played well. I believe I increased little bit the level in the fourth and the fifth. But the fifth, he was playing huge. It was so difficult to stop him."

Both players often found themselves on the grass in an all-time great match, which transfixed spectators on-site as England's footballers pl

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Nadal Commits To Madrid

Rafael Nadal on Tuesday committed to playing this September’s Mutua Madrid Open.

Tournament Director Feliciano Lopez made the announcement on Twitter, saying, “I talked to my friend @RafaelNadal and he has confirmed his participation in Madrid next September! We wait for you as always with open arms in the Magic Box!”

He hablado con mi amigo @RafaelNadal y me ha confirmado su participación en Madrid el próximo mes de septiembre! ❤️ ¡Te esperamos como siempre con los brazos abiertos en la Caja Mágica!

— Feliciano López (@feliciano_lopez) July 7, 2020

Nadal left no doubt, responding to Lopez’s tweet: “So it is Feli. See you in September in Madrid.”

Así es Feli. Nos vemos en septiembre en Madrid 👋🏻💪🏻👍🏻🎾
Mientras tanto que todo vaya bien! 😷

— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) July 7, 2020

The Spaniard holds the record for most titles at the tournament, triumphing in Madrid five times. Nadal is also the ATP Masters 1000 event’s youngest champion, lifting the trophy in 2005 when he was 19.

Return Calendar

The Mutua Madrid Open was not held as originally scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is currently set to begin on 13 September at the Caja Magica.

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Flashback: Federer Saves 3 M.P. To Deny Cilic At Wimbledon

Bidding to lift a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title after runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015 to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer cruised through to a quarter-final meeting against Marin Cilic at the All England Club in 2016.

Meeting Cilic for the first time since suffering a straight-sets loss to the Croat in the 2014 US Open semi-finals, Federer entered the pair’s seventh ATP Head2Head clash in peak form after straight-sets victories against Guido Pella, Marcus Willis, Daniel Evans and Steve Johnson.

After a semi-final run at the Fever-Tree Championships, Cilic also made his way onto Centre Court with confidence. The 2014 US Open champion had dropped just one set to reach his third straight quarter-final at SW19. In his two most recent campaigns at the All England Club, Cilic’s title hopes were ended by eventual champion Djokovic on both occasions.


In the opening two sets, Cilic dictated proceedings on Centre Court. The World No. 13 won 87 per cent of first-serve points, landed 12 aces and saved all three break points he faced to establish a two-set advantage. In the third set, the 6’6” right-hander earned three consecutive break points at 3-3, 0/40, but could not find a way through the Swiss.

Boosted by that escape, Federer charged back into the match. The 17-time Grand Slam champion claimed three straight games to force a fourth set, where he survived three match points. On two of those points, Cilic was unable to find the court on second-serve returns.

“If we would go back to play again, I would try to be more aggressive on the chances when I had them in the fourth. Maybe there was a slight hesitation [during] some of them,” said Cilic.

After edging a gripping fourth-set tie-break, the seven-time champion completed a 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 victory after three hours and 17 minutes. It was the 10th time in Federer’s career that he had won a match from two sets down.


“Today was epic,” said Federer. “[I am] probably going to look back at this as being a great, great match that I played in my career, on Centre Court here at Wimbledon... I'm very, very happy.”

In another thrilling five-set clash, Federer’s title bid was ended in the semi-finals by Milos Raonic. The Swiss, who underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery earlier in the year, ended his 2016 season following the tournament.Read more:

Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek... Remembering 1996 Wimbledon (Part 2)

Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Wimbledon would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the grass-court Grand Slam. This story was originally published on 7 July 2016. 

Richard Krajicek returned the next day for a 22-minute installment to complete a 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory to end Pete Sampras' 25-match winning streak at The Championships.

"I played unbelievable," says Krajicek. "This is the only tournament I've ever played, where every rain delay I played the same or even better than the last one. I remember I played Michael Stich at Hamburg in 1992, but we went off five times. Whoever was losing at each rain delay came back and reversed the score. The momentum switched with the rain. It's quite normal, something happens during the rain delay.

"In 1996, at Wimbledon, nothing fazed me."

"After I beat Pete, I still wasn't thinking too much about winning the title. But once I saw that Goran [Ivanisevic] lost, I thought, 'Hey, this can maybe happen.' Goran was a tough opponent for me."

"In the past, he did look too far ahead in the draw," admits Rohan Goetzke. "But this time, he adjusted his training and the tactics dependent on the courts."

"Richard was very superstitious and we largely stayed at the hotel resting and relaxing," said Deckers. "On the morning of match day, he had ordered pancake from room service and ate them while watching cartoons on the BBC," says Deckers. "He focused solely on each point, game and set. He was very analytical. He never over celebrated a point, feeling that you leave your celebration for the end of the match."

The pressure level has gone up a notch.

"It was a no-win situation, the whole pressure changed," said Goetzke. "I felt whoever he played, he would win it. This was it. He was fired up and ready to get the job done."

Says Krajicek, 20 years on, "I think from the moment I beat Stich, I had the feeling that I wouldn't be happy with any result. I beat Stich and I put my hands up. I beat Sampras, normally I should be ecstatic but I just raised my arms. Nothing more.

"I kept in my brain that I'd been in semi-finals before. A nice result, but I don't want a nice result. I want to go for it all. It can happen, a letdown. I remember the 1993 Roland Garros semi-finals, when I played Jim Courier, a great player, but there I was really happy with a se

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Murray Wimbledon Lesson, 'Big 4' Racquet Draw Top New Fan Experience Prizes

Members of the ATP Coach Programme, in collaboration with the ATP, have announced a second round of fan experiences featuring top ATP players, in continued support of coaches affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative gives fans the opportunity to bid for ultimate tennis experiences with top ATP players and coaches through auctions and prize draws. Running 6-27 July 2020, the second round of experiences features a private coaching session with Andy Murray at Wimbledon, including two tickets to the men’s singles final and lunch at the members' enclosure.

Private sessions are also available with ATP Players Grigor Dimitrov, Feliciano Lopez and Stan Wawrinka onsite at 2021 ATP Tour and Grand Slam events, as well as ATP coaches Severin Luthi, Carlos Moya, Toni Nadal, Magnus Norman and Dani Vallverdu. A frame featuring signed rackets from each of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will also be available via prize draw.

Learn More About Dream Experiences

“There are some fantastic new experiences up for grabs that I hope fans will be excited by,” said Andy Murray, former World No.1. “I am personally very happy to be involved. So many areas of our sport have been affected throughout the Tour suspension, including coaches. It’s important we help each other where we can. I think everybody involved has done a great job in creating something unique for fans that also supports a worthy cause.”

Launched last month, the first round of bidding raised over USD $90,000 including a USD $19,000 winning bid for a US Open VIP Package and coaching session with Ivan Lendl. Funds raised will be allocated by the ATP Coaches Committee to support the members of the ATP Coach Programme, whose ability to work has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic. In addition, a part of proceeds will be donated to a global COVID-19 relief fund.

“It has been really exciting to see the response the initiative has received so far. It’s fair to say it has exceeded all our expectations and will go a long way to help coaches,” said Dani Vallverdu, ATP Coach. “I want to thank everyone for their generous contributions and look forward to fans enjoying the incredible experiences lined up in the second round.”

“I would like to commend all coaches, players and tournaments who are coming together to bring these experiences to life

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ATP Announces Adjustments To FedEx ATP Rankings Due To COVID-19

The ATP has today announced how the revised FedEx ATP Rankings will be calculated once the Tour resumes. The Rankings, which reflect a player’s standing among the world’s best players and are used for tournament entry and seedings, are the lifeblood of professional tennis.

In anticipation of a return to competition in August, the Rankings, which traditionally operate on a "Best 18" results basis over 52 weeks, will now cover a period of 22 months (March 2019 – December 2020). The Rankings have been frozen since 16 March 2020, just days after the ATP Tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic..

The revised Rankings system aims to deliver the following key objectives:

• Provide flexibility & fairness to players across all levels in parallel with the condensed number of points available as part of the revised provisional 2020 calendar.
• Provide stability for players who cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.
• Provide a system that can adapt to further changes in the calendar if necessary.
• Reward players who perform well following the resumption of the Tour in 2020.
• Retain the principle of defending tournament points week by week in 2021, maintaining player mobility in the rankings.

BEST OF 2019 & 2020 RESULTS:
Among the key elements of the revised 22-month Ranking system are the following:

• A player’s ranking will be comprised of his "Best 18" results between March 2019 and December 2020.
• A player cannot count the same Tour-level tournament twice in his "Best 18" breakdown. For example, a player who played the Mutua Madrid Open in 2019 and plays Madrid again in 2020, will count the better of those two results.
• Tour-level tournament points added in 2020 that count in a player’s Ranking Breakdown will remain on a player’s ranking for 52 weeks, or until the event in question is played again in 2021, whichever comes first.

The temporary changes to the Rankings system have been made in consultation with the four Grand Slam tournaments and the ITF. Should the 2021 season be impacted by Covid-19, further adjustments to Rankings will be considered.

The revised FedEx ATP Rankings will determine the singles qualifiers to the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals. As

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