Tennis News: Elena Rybakina imitates idol and Rafael Nadal's send-off

  • Rybakina had to conjure her inner Federer
  • Nadal's potential ending

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Elena Rybakina is one of the more powerful players on the WTA tour. She has an excellent serve and immense forehand and many times she simply overwhelms her opponents. But sometimes her energy level dips and she loses consistency. This has caused her to fall to No. 4 in women's tennis and is likely to stay there unless Coco Gauff loses form sometime soon.

Rybakina did have an excellent run at the Miami Open, even though she lost in the final to Danielle Collins, so that could spring her forward to success later in the year when she plays more hard-court tournaments and on the grass at Wimbledon where she has won her only Grand Slam. After finishing Miami, the clay court season gets underway and that is not the Kazakhstani's favorite surface (though she did do better in 2023). But she is always a threat on grass, so her ranking could rise once again during the summer.

During the semifinals of the Miami Open, Rybakina played one of the odder matches of her career against Victoria Azarenka. After Rybakina won the first set 6-4, she then only won five total points while dropping the second set at love. Somehow, Rybakina was able to correct her form and won the third set in a tie-break to move on to the final.

Elena Rybakina summons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal might not have hope

Years ago, the Kazakhstani said her tennis idol was Roger Federer partly because he was able to keep his composure during the most stressful of moments during a match - even though she lost in Miami, she still remained composed. During the post-match press conference after her defeat of Azarenka, Rybakina reiterated she just wanted to play like Federer. Rybakina said, "I think it’s just the character (of Federer to remain calm), but also if sometimes you can notice that I’m also negative. Of course, I need to maybe bring more positive energy and to show the opponent."

She added, "Now I knew that I cannot lose energy on these kind of things. I was just trying to keep calm and just focus on every point, because I knew that’s the only way to get through this."

Speaking of getting through things, Rafael Nadal might be struggling to find the perfect ending to his career. He has implied that 2024 will be his final year playing professional tennis, but he so far has only been able to play in one sanctioned tournament, the Brisbane International. Nadal hurt the same hip that required surgery in 2023. He also seems to be dealing with a back injury currently.

The French Open begins in late May and while Nadal is the king of clay, former player John Lloyd doesn't think Nadal will win at Roland Garros either. On the excellent Tennis Channel's Inside-In podcast, Lloyd said, "I do think we'll get a decent send-off. I don't think (Nadal) is gonna come in there, obviously knows he is not injured, but, all things being, he gets himself into a decent shape. I see him winning some matches definitely, but I don't see him winning. I don't think there's going to be enough time left in the bank that he needs to play the kind of tennis he needs to."

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