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Thiem shocks Djokovic, sets up French Open final clash with Nadal

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It will be Dominic Thiem's second straight appearance in the French Open final.

Paris: Dominic Thiem stunned Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller to set up yet another French Open final against Rafael Nadal on Saturday.

World No.1 Djokovic, who had won the last three Grand Slam titles in a 26-match winning streak dating back to the quarterfinals here last year, lost 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 5-7 in a marathon semifinal which started on Friday and ended on Saturday, delaying the women’s final.

Djokovic, who had not dropped a set in the tournament, thus failed to hold all four Grand Slams for the second time, like he did here in 2016.

Thiem will now seek revenge on Nadal after losing last year’s summit clash to the ace Spaniard in straight sets. Nadal on Friday beat Swiss legend Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 at the Philippe-Chatrier Court in the 39th meeting between the two stalwarts.

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Andy Murray eyes return to singles tennis

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The three-time Grand Slam champion underwent a hip surgery in January.

London: Former world No.1 Andy Murray on Wednesday said he hoped to make a return to men’s singles tennis later in the year.

The 32-year-old is set to compete in the men’s doubles with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez at the Queen’s Club tournament in London next week.

“I hope at some stage this year I would be able to get back to playing singles again,” Murray said during an event organized by Amazon in London.

“When that is, I am not really interested in putting a time limit on it because I am quite happy just now so I do not need to play singles after Wimbledon or at the US Open,” he added.

Murray has not competed since he underwent an operation on his right hip in January after the Australian Open, which he had signalled could be his last career tournament.

“I still have quite a lot of work to do before I am at a level where I feel like I will be able to be competitive,” he said.

Although the three-time Grand Slam champion and two-time Olympic winner said he had been practicing with Frances Tiafoe of the United States at the Wimbledon facilities, he has not confirmed his appearance at the grass court major, which starts on July 1.

“It is baby steps just now. I am feeling good, pretty much pain free and enjoying kind of just training, practicing, improving all the time,” he said.

Murray has been crowned singles champion five times at the Queen’s Club, in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, but never in the doubles.

He has won 45 career titles, including the 2012 US Open, and the 2013 and 2016 editions of Wimbledon.

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Hard work, dedication and ability: Nadal spills his secret to success

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Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem in the French Open final. Photos: Twitter@ATP

Paris: After lifting his 12th French Open crown, Rafael Nadal has reflected on success, vanity and the personal will to succeed which made him one of the best tennis players of all time.

His gestures were relaxed despite coming after two weeks of fierce competition. Nadal made himself comfortable on an armchair at the hotel he has used to stay every year since his first French Open success in 2005. Here are the excerpts:

Q: Have you had time to read the front pages of today’s newspapers?

A: No, I have not seen anything, I have not had time yet. I am accustomed to reading the news and I see things that come out about me, but I am not a great fan of reading a lot of what is said about me.

I am accustomed to reading headlines and some articles in particular, but not much. Neither when things go badly, nor when they go very well.

What gives me satisfaction is what I have done myself, more than what they could say. The acknowledgment is one of the nicest things one can have.

I have to show gratitude for the affection and the support media has shown me, they have behaved well with me.

Q: What can one do to avoid falling prey to vanity?

A: I think it is easier to fall when you are 19 or 20 years old, when you start. This happens to some people. But at 33, it is not the time to fall for these things.

I have had people around me my entire life and they have transmitted a proper education to avoid it. Luckily, I also have been humble enough or respectful to listen and pay attention to the people who are around me.

Q: Is that humility the only way to win 12 French Open titles?

A: For now, yes, because only I have done it. But there are a lot of ways to achieve success. Not all the best sportsmen in history are humble.

Certainly they are (hard) workers, but some people do not have to be humble to triumph as sportsmen. The necessary thing is work, dedication and ability.

Q: How is your relationship with success?

A: I live it with normally. One of the keys to be able to be where I am is not having big peaks of happiness. Neither to think a big deal of myself nor very little when things do not go the way I like.

I think my emotional state is stable and this helps me to be able to focus on my life and my professional career in a coherent and relaxed way.

Q: Does the fact that you have not abandoned your hometown of Manacor help in that?

A: What helps me is the education I have received as a child and the examples the people around me set.

Q: You have said that this Roland Garros title is special given the difficult moment you went through a little more than a month ago due to injuries. Do you take more pride in the way you get past bad moments than the success you achieve?

A: The thing is that, in the end, personal success is much more powerful than professional success. Personal success is to have the capacity of overcoming complicated moments, to have perseverance when it is difficult.

Roland Garros fills me with satisfaction, of course, but my greatest satisfaction is to have had, during these last five weeks, the will to have an attitude change and to appreciate the little improvements. And I have done it thanks to the support of my team.

Rafael Nadal with his pet trophy.

Q: Have these months, after the Indian Wells injury, been the worst moments emotionally?

A: I do not think it is the lowest moment. It was in 2005 when they diagnosed me with a foot injury and told me that maybe I will not be able to play tennis at the same level as I had done till then.

You get tired from receiving knocks in the form of continuous injuries.

It is not an issue of professional activity. Having continuous pain, too much pain that does not allow you to have a nice life during a lot of time can make you feel down.

Q: Does the fact that you have to get past all this gives you more strength?

A: I have always had strength, thus I have achieved what I have achieved.

But evidently coming out of tough moments makes you strong and helps you in the future to see things with enthusiasm and with a more positive perspective.

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Sharapova plans to return from injury at Mallorca Open

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Maria Sharapova is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Palma (Spain): Maria Sharapova plans to play in the Mallorca Open after recovering from a shoulder injury.

“I am happy to be able to announce that I am going to accept the wild card to play the Mallorca Open,” the 32-year-old said in a statement in Spanish on the Mallorca Open website on Monday.

“I want to thank the tournament for the opportunity it gives me and all my incredible fans who have been supporting me in recent months,” the former world number one said.

The Russian tennis player is due to reappear on the grass courts at the tournament after undergoing shoulder surgery in February.

Sharapova has been training for several days at the Santa Ponça Country Club facilities in Calviá.

She will be part of the tournament poster, the only one of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) played in Spain, along with two other former top players — German Angelique Kerber, and current Wimbledon champion and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka.

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