Indian Wells: Murray and Wawrinka in Nadal's half of the draw - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: Murray and Wawrinka in Nadal's half of the draw

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TENNIS – World Number 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal and last year’s Wimbledon champion Andy Murray may square off in a mouth-watering quarter final at Indian Wells. Other potential quarter finals could be Federer vs Wawrinka, Berdych vs Gasquet and Djokovic vs Del Potro. Diego Sampaolo

 

Nadal and Murray, who claimed last year’s editions of the hard-court Master 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami respectively, have been drawn in the first quarter of the Indian Wells in the Californian desert and could clash in a potential quarter final. Nadal could face a very tough path to title defence as his possible rival in the semifinal may be either Roger Federer or Stanislas Wawrinka.

Nadal, three-time Indian Wells champion, will start his US hard-court campaign against either Denis Istomin or Radek Stepanek (who lost in three sets against Federer in the quarter finals in Dubai last week). The Mallorcan legend, who won two tournaments this year in Doha and Rio de Janeiro, could face Ukraine’s Aleksander Dolgopolov in the third round, and either Italian top-player Fabio Fognini, who has moved up to World Number 14 in the ATP Ranking following his fourth round at the Australian Open and his win in Vina del Mar or Gael Monfils. Nadal beat Dolgopolov in the recent Rio de Janeiro final and Monfils in the Doha final at the beginning of January.

Murray could face Spaniard Pablo Andujar in the third round, It may be a tough test for the Dunblane star as Andujar held two match points against Nadal in the Rio semifinal and led by a set and a break against Murray in Acapulco last week.

Murray could face another stiff challenge in the third round against Canadian rising star Milos Raonic for a place in the quarter finals.

Federer and Wawrinka could meet in a possible super Swiss derby in the quarter final in the second quarter of the draw. Federer showed glimpses of his past glorious tennis last week when he won the ATP in Dubai where he beat Novak Djokovic in the semifinal and Tomas Berdych in the final recovering from one set down in both matches, a clear indication that the Swiss Maestro is back to his top form also thanks to his successful relationship to Stefan Edberg. Dubai marked Federer’s first title win since Halle in 2013 last June.

The Basel native will start against a qualifier and play against Dimitry Tursunov in the second round but his path to the quarter finals could not be easy as he may face either Tommy Haas (who retired during the semifinal against Paolo Lorenzi last week in San Paolo) or Kei Nishikori in the third round.

Wawrinka is still unbeaten this year as he won in Chennai and the Australian Open (the first Grand Slam of his career) and helped Switzerland win the Davis Cup first round match against Serbia.
The Lausanne player, who has moved up to World Number 3 after his triumph in Melbourne, will debut against either Alex Bogomolov Jr. or Ivo Karlovic and either Lleyton Hewitt or  Kevin Anderson in the third round. Anderson played very well in the recent weeks reaching two consecutive finals in Delray Beach and Acapulco.

The third quarter of the draw will feature a potential quarter final match between last week’s Dubai finalist and this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych and French top player Richard Gasquet.

This year’s Rotterdam champion Berdych may face Bautista Agut in the second round, Florian Mayer in the third round and a potential clash against the winner of the third round match between Grigor Dimitrov and Ernests Gulbis. Berdych leads 4-2 in his previous head-to-head matches against Dimitrov but he lost in the first round at Wimbledon in 2012.

Dimitrov won the second title of his career last week in Acapulco against Kevin Anderson after beating Andy Murray during the week. Gulbis won the Open 13 in Marseille two weeks ago. Dimitrov faced Gulbis last week in Acapulco where the Bulgarian prevailed after a late night match which lasted two hours and 40 minutes.

Gasquet’s potential rival in the third round could be US giant John Isner who has to overcome Phillip Kohlschreiber in the third round. The German lost in the semifinal of Dubai against Berdych last week.

Second seed Novak Djokovic may face last year’s Indian Wells finalist Juan Martin Del Potro in a potential fourth quarter of the draw in a re-match of 2013 Indian Wells semifinal won by Del Potro and last year’s Wimbledon marathon semifinal won by Djokovic after four hours.and 43 minutes (the longest Wimbledon semifinal in history). Djokovic, semifinalist in Dubai last week, may face in-form Croatian Marin Cilic, who won two titles in Zagreb and Delray Beach and lost the Rotterdam final against Berdych after knocking out Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Andy Murray.

Del Potro, who has suffered from wrist problems in recent weeks, will make his debut against Feliciano Lopez in the second round and Vasek Pospisil in Montreal before possibly facing Tsonga in the third round.

 

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Unseeded Ugo Humbert Becomes First Player In Over A Decade To Win Halle On Debut

The 22-year-old fired nine aces and 29 winners to claim his first ATP 500 title.

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image via https://twitter.com/ATPHalle

France’s Ugo Humbert has clinched his maiden ATP title on the grass after defeating Andrey Rublev in straight sets at the Noventi Open in Halle.

 

Humbert remained unbroken throughout his 6-3, 7-6(4), win over the Russian fourth seed who has won more matches on the ATP Tour than any other player since the start of 2020 (74). The Frenchman was particularly impressive behind serve where he won 83% of his first service points and 55% on his second. It is the first time he has beaten Rublev on the Tour after losing to him on two previous occasions in 2019 (Monte Carlo) and 2020 (St. Petersburg).

“It’s incredible,” said Humbert. “The best victory of my career. I’m very proud because it wasn’t easy, I was a little but tired today but I tried to stay focused on each point. It’s very nice.”

The triumph concludes what has been a marathon week in Halle for the 22-year-old. En route to the final he had to come through four three-set matches where he scored wins over Sam Querrey, Alexander Zverev, Sebastian Korda and Felix-Auger Aliassime. Becoming only the second player in Halle’s 28-year history to have reached the final by playing only three-set matches.

Meanwhile, runner-up Rublev paid tribute to his opponent following their clash. The world No.7 is now 1-2 in finals played so far this season after winning Rotterdam before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo. To put that into perspective, in 2020 he won all six finals he played in.

“I have often told my coach that you play in an incredible way,” he said. “You have everything to be a very great player. So keep working, doing everything you do. You play very well, you have incredible shots. I wish you a great career.”

Humbert, who won two ATP titles last year in Auckland and Antwerp, is the first player to win Halle on the debut since 2010. On that occasion Lleyton Hewitt prevailed over Roger Federer in the final. He is now projected to rise to a ranking high of 25 on Monday when the ATP standings are officially updated.

The Frenchman will be hoping that he can continue his winning streak heading to Wimbledon where he reached the fourth round back in 2019. His best ever result in a Grand Slam to date.

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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Dominic Thiem Follows Nadal In Olympic Games Snub

The world No.5 says his decision is related to his performance on the Tour so far this season.

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Dominic Thiem training at the 2021 Lyon Open (photographer Sammy Dancyger - Owned by Sport Plus Conseil - GM Sports Consulting)

Austria’s Dominic Thiem has pulled out of the Olympic Games in order to focus on his title defence at the US Open later this year.

 

The 27-year-old issued a statement on Thursday saying he was ‘not ready’ to play in Tokyo following what has been a roller-coaster start to the season. Thiem enters Wimbledon with a win-loss record of 9-8 and recently lost in the first round of the French Open. His best results so far this year were reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher.
“However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”

Thiem, who also skipped the 2016 Olympics, had previously said that his views on the multi-sport event have changed over recent time. During one interview with Tennis Deutschland he said it would be a ‘dream’ to play at the Olympics and he would ‘definitely play’ at the event if he had the chance to. Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who won a gold medal back in 2004.

The world No.5 says he hopes to be able to play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris where the tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. The same venue as the French Open.

On the same day as Thiem’s announcement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal was another player to confirm he would not be travelling to Tokyo, as well as Wimbledon, in order to recover from the clay season. The Spaniard said he wants to take a break from the Tour in order to preserve his body and prolong his career on the Tour.

The Olympic tennis event will take place between July 24th – August 1st. Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s tournament.

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