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Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – all preparations are well under way

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Gerard Tsobanian, President and CEO of the Mutua Madrid Open, combined ATP and WTA event preparing players for the French Open in Paris held a working media-breakfast during which he summarised the status of the preparations for the 2014 edition of the tournament, that is to take place between the 2nd and 11th of May in the Caja Mágica. We want to keep bringing the tournament closer to Madrid’s citizens. This is not an elitist tournament. Last year we lowered ticket prices and this year we have frozen them. This tournament belongs to the citizens of Madrid and to Spaniards and we are very proud to stage it every year”, said Gerard Tsobanian.

Sponsors guarantee yet another year of solid performance in Madrid

Regarding sponsorship, the Tournament President was delighted to announce the addition of French catering group Sodexo to the tournament’s group of sponsors. Sodexo has provided the catering services to the Mutua Madrid Open for several years, but starting in 2014 it will be an active sponsor, advertising itself at a tennis tournament for the first time. Gerard Tsobanian spoke of the importance to the Mutua Madrid Open of the agreement reached with Inditex, one of the most important textile groups in the world, through its Pull & Bear brand to provide the uniforms for the ball-boys and model/ball-boys for the tournament, and the return as a sponsor of Air Europa, which worked with the Mutua Madrid Open between 2004 and 2011 and will do so again as from now. In addition, he highlighted the importance of Corte Inglés, one of the best-known Spanish companies around the world, which formed part of the tournament last year and will be back this time around to do the same.

Presentation of the Mutua Madrid Open 2014 (c)MutuaMadridOpen

Presentation of the Mutua Madrid Open 2014 (c)MutuaMadridOpen

All these brands therefore join the Mutua Madrid Open’s group of sponsors, which is formed by Mutua Madrileña, the Council of Madrid, Estrella Damm, Mercedes Benz, Ricoh, Ohlimpia, Dunlop, AC Hoteles Marriott, ABC, Adecco, Prosegur, Marca and Schweppes. Regarding ticket sales, Gerard Tsobanian announced that there was a 50 per cent increase compared to the same time in 2013. The President of the Mutua Madrid Open stated that there has been an effort to try and focus on opening up to the international market, which is why last year a new ticket-sales platform was launched to allow their purchase in six languages.

Mutua Madrid Open will be televised live via several TV-channels

Finally, it has been confirmed that the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open will be broadcast by La Sexta and Nitro television channels, as was last year’s tournament.

Manolo Santana outlines his expectations for the ATP-tournament 2014

In a very interesting interview the tournament media has done with the former world number one, Santana is quoted: What is for sure is that the tournament is here to stay. It is recognised worldwide, and we have to try to do the best we can to ensure that the ATP continues to show confidence in us, and to improve the things that need improving, for the crowds, logically because they are the ones who pay, want the facilities to be in perfect condition, the courts to be perfect and obviously that all the players come.” – with regards to the future of the Spanish tennis, the Madrilenian Santana is optimistic: It is incredible. It’s marvellous that we have two players like Nadal and Ferrer in the top five in the world. And they’re backed up by players like Almagro, who is an incredible player, Verdasco, Feliciano and Robredo, who are fighting to remain at the top and that’s not easy but they do it. Then we have Bautista, who did incredibly in Australia, and also García López and Andújar, who is a player who does well on all surfaces and I like his style of play. We have a great group of players but obviously some of them might slip away. We have to carry on supporting Rafa, because he is a foundation not only of Spanish tennis, but also world tennis. When Rafa plays, demand for tickets, interviews… go off the scale. It’s normal, because for me he’s not a normal sportsman, and we’re very lucky that all of us in the tennis family have him close to us.”

Tournament Director counts on Serena Williams for the WTA event

“I don’t think anyone can defeat Williams at a Grand Slam, or any other important tournament for that matter, when she is at her best level. She is extremely potent and has enormous self-confidence. The American almost always beats Sharapova, Ni La and Azarenka, who are her closest rival. She has tremendous power. All her shots are definitive. Her forehand is impeccable and her concentration is extraordinary, she’s a true champion. I think that Sharapova and Azarenka need to have a very good day to defeat her, or that another player causes a huge surprise, but I think at all the major tournaments Serena is the favourite.” Santana explains the ‘special’ status he sees for the American given she is healthy and focused to play. 

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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