ATP Barcelona: Almagro beats Nadal for the first time - UBITENNIS
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ATP Barcelona: Almagro beats Nadal for the first time




TENNIS – Nicholas Almagro upset his compatriot Rafa Nadal with a 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 win at the ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to reach the semifinal. Nadal, eight-time winner in 10 appearances in Barcelona, suffered his first defeat in eleven head-to-head matches. Diego Sampaolo

With his third round win over Ivan Dodig on Thursday, Nadal won his 42nd match in a row in Barcelona. He also scored his 683rd career win on the ATP tour tying Arthur Ashe in 11th place in the list.

Nicolas Almagro won just two sets against Nadal who led 10-0 in the previous head-to-head matches.

Both players traded breaks in the opening two games of the first set but Almagro made 15 costly unforced errors. Nadal was looking to cruise to his 11th win against his compatriot after winning the first set with 6-2 (his 44th consecutive set in this tournament) but Almagro rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the tie-break to clinch it with 7-5 after 1 hour and 16 minutes. Almagro saved all five break points in the second set. The last time Nadal dropped a set in Barcelona dates back to the 2008 final against David Ferrer.

The third set featured four breaks of serve. Almagro rallied from 1-3 in the decider fighting back from a break down by winning three consecutive games with a break for 4-3 in the seventh game. Nadal managed to break straight back in a hard-fought eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Almagro earned a triple break point in the ninth game and converted the first chance to love to lead 5-4.

Almagro rallied from a 15-40 deficit in the tenth game when he was serving for the set. Almagro earned a second match point with a forehand swing volley. He hit a forehand winer down the line to clinch his first win against Nadal after two hours and 48 minutes.

I had a lot of chances in the second set when I had the match under control but I didn’t take them. As the match went on, I was less clam but I still had openings in the third set at 3-1 and 4-4 which I didn’t take. This is tennis and you just have to keep going”, admitted Nadal.

Almagro scored a back-to-back win against a Spanish player after beating Fernando Verdasco on Thursday. Almagro took a re-match against Verdasco who beat him earlier this month on clay in Houston

Nadal suffered his first defeat in Barcelona since 2003 when he lost against Alex Corretja on his debut in this tournament back in 2003 as a 15-year-old player. The Mallorcan star lost in the quarter final stage for the second consecutive week after losing to David Ferrer in the quarter final in Monte-Carlo.

Almagro set up a semifinal clash against Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo who won the first set 6-4 before German Phillip Kohlschreiber withdrew because of an injury problem after the seventh game of the second set as Giraldo was leading 4-3. Giraldo, who saved five match points to beat young Austrian Dominic Thiem 4-6 6-4 7-5 on Thursday, has reached his third semifinal this year after Vina del Mar and Houston.

Kei Nishikori reached the semifinal at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell after beating Marin Cilic 6-1 6-3, his first tournament since suffering from a groin injury which forced him to withdraw from the Miami semifinals.

Nishikori dominated the match hitting 18 winners against Cilic who was probably tired after battling past Tommy Robredo in a hard-fought match on Thursday when he prevailed after two hours and 47 minutes with the scoreline of 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) after saving five of six break points.

Nishikori, who qualified for the Barcelona quarter final for the second time in three years with a 6-0 6-4 win over Andrey Golubev, has reached his fourth semifinal this year. He reached his previous best result in 2012 when he lost in the quarter final against Fernando Verdasco. This year the Japanese star won one title in Memphis and reached two semifinals in Brisbane and Miami.

Nishikori set up a semifinal match against Ernests Gulbis who cruised past Teymuraz Gabashvili in straight sets with 6-1 6-4. Gulbis saved all the five break points he faced against Gabashvili.

Gabashvili, a Russian player of Georgian origin, upset last week’s Monte-Carlo semifinalist David Ferrer in the second round scoring his first top-10 win since his third round win over Andy Roddick in the third round of the 2010 Roland Garros.

Gulbis has reached his third semifinal this year. The Latvian won his fifth career title at the Open 13 in Marseille beating Jo Wilfred Tsonga last February and lost to Tomas Berdych in the Rotterdam semifinal. He has achieved his best result in the Spanish clay tournament improving the quarter final reached in 2010 when he lost to Fernando Verdasco. The Latvian reached his career high last February when he moved up to World Number 18 when he won in Marseille where he scored two consecutive wins against top-10 players Richard Gasquet and Jo Wilfred Tsonga. He reached the quarter finals in Indian Wells but dropped to World Number 23 after losing the opening match in both Miami and Monte-Carlo.


Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?



Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.


In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career



Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.


Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.


Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.


“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati



David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.


Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”



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