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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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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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