Mutua Madrid Open: Defending Champion Nadal drawn with Federer. Nole retires from the tournament - UBITENNIS
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Mutua Madrid Open: Defending Champion Nadal drawn with Federer. Nole retires from the tournament

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TENNIS – World Number 1 Rafael Nadal will start his title defence of the Mutua Madrid Open at the Caja Magica against the winner of the first-round match between Juan Monaco and Jurgen Melzer. His possible rivals in the Round of 16 could be German veteran Tommy Haas, Robin Haase or Jarkko Nieminen. Diego Sampaolo

Interviews, results, order of play and draws of the Mutua Madrid Open

Nadal will be looking to bounce back from two back-to-back quarter final defeats in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona in two clay tournaments where he was used to dominate. He will have to defend 2000 points in the next two weeks in Madrid and Rome. Last year Nadal beat Stanislas Wawrinka in the final in the Caja Magica.

“When you lose you have a hard moment and you have more doubts. But that’s what happenedI have already said several times. I didn’t try to win Monte-Carlo or Barcelona 12 times. Maybe that is not normal. This is the reality of the situation. It’s normal to lose three times in the quarter finals. Maybe what is not normal is what happened during the past nine years”, said Nadal.

“I feel really good playing here. Madrid is a very special tournament for me. The energy this tournament gives me is something a bit different to others”.

“When you come back from tough moments, you come back with a little more intensity to try to be back as soon as possible”.

Nadal could face either Tomas Berdych or Grigor Dimitrov in a possible quarter final. The Czech player, who lost against Carlos Berloq in the Oeiras final, will start against either Radek Stepanek or Jurgen Melzer in the second round before a potential intriguing match against Grigor Dimitrov who won the third ATP title of his career and the first on clay in Bucharest last week. First the young Bulgarian will have to face clay specialists like Marcel Granollers and Pablo Carreno Busta, the ATP Most Improved player in 2013.

Nadal has been drawn in the same top half with Roger Federer who will return to the Mutua Madrid Open where he won two years ago. Nadal and Federer could square off in the semifinal in another chapter of their rivalry. Federer recently lost his fourth Monte-Carlo final against his compatriot Stan Wawrinka.

Federer will be looking to improve the result of last year when he did not get through the Round of 16. He will start against a French rival (either Benoit Paire or Giles Simon) before facing a possible third round match against Roberto Bautista Agut who upset Tommy Robredo 6-4 6-4 i the first round on Sunday.

Federer could meet either Jo Wilfred Tsonga or Andy Murray in the quarter final. If he faces Tsonga, the two players could play a re-match of the recent quarter final in Monte-Carlo won by Federer.

Murray will face a tough draw as he could make his debut against Nicolas Almagro who recently beat Nadal for the first time in his career in the quarter final in Barcelona before meeting Tsonga in the Round of 16.

This year’s Australian Open Stanislas Wawrinka will be looking to win his back-to-back Master 1000 tournament on clay in Madrid after clinching his first Monte-Carlo title.

Wawrinka will start his campaign against Dmitry Tursunov in the second round before meeting Mikhail Youzhny, Federico Delbonis or Feliciano Lopez in the third round.

Wawrinka has been drawn in the third quarter as Milos Raonic and they could square off the quarter final. The young Canadian has not a easy draw as he could meet Jeremy Chardy in the second round. Chardy beat Bucharest finalist Lukas Rosol in the first round in three sets with 4-6 6-3 6-4. on Sunday.

The possible Round of 16 match could be played between Raonic and in-form Kei Nishikori, who recently won his first tournament on clay in Barcelona, a tournament won by Spanish clay specialists in the last 12 years. Last year the Japanese star beat Roger Federer to reach the quarter final in the Spanish capital before achieving his career.high when he moved up to World Number 11 in the ATP Ranking. Nishikori will start his Madrid campaign against Croatian player Ivan Dodig. The winner of this match may face Guillermo Garcia Lopez who edged Pablo Andujar 6-2 2-6 6-2 in the first round on Sunday

“It was a big surprise for me to win a clay tournament. It was my first clay title. I didn’t play against top-10 players but I still think it was a good week for me”, said Nishikori

Nishikori also won in Memphis and reached the semifinal in Miami after beating Roger Federer in the quarter final. The advice provided by Michael Chang has certainly contributed tp his recent success.

“Michael is giving me good improvement. My tennis is getting better and stronger. Michael is not in Madrid with me but it’s going well with him. My next goal is to get into the top 10. It’s not going to be easy. My goal is not just to stay in the top-10 for one week. Hopefully I can keep that ranking all the time. I feel very strong especially after winning in Barcelona. It was unfortunate to have an injury in Miami. Hopefully I can stay healthy for a while and do well in every tournament. The big goal is to qualify for the ATP World Tour Final”, said Nishikori.

Unfortunately 2011 Madrid champion Novak Djokovic, who had been originally drawn in the bottom quarter, has been forced to withdraw from Madrid as he has not fully recovered from his wrist injury which affected his Monte-Carlo semifinal against Roger Federer.

“I am very sorry for the Madrid tournament and all Spanish fans to have to pull out of the Madrid Mutua Open. I did everything possible in order to play in Madrid, which is one of the biggest tournaments of the year, but unfortunately my right arm has flared up again. Now I will have to recover and heal my injury. I look forward to returning to Madrid next year”, said Djokovic on Sunday. There is a chance that Djokovic could recover in time to play in Rome.

In this quarter of the draw Marin Cilic, who is tied for second place on the 2014 match-wins ranking with 25 wins, could face either Italian 13-seed Fabio Fognini, who won in Vina del Mar and lost the final in Munich against Martin Klizan this week or Ukraine’s Aleksander Dolgopolov who reached the Indian Wells semifinal this year losing to Roger Federer after a third set win over Rafa Nadal in the third round.

David Ferrer has been drawn in the bottom half of the draw The player from Valencia, who reached the Monte-Carlo semifinal after beating Rafa Nadal on his favourite clay tournament in the quarter final but was knocked out in the second round in Barcelona against Gabashvili, will start against either his compatriot Albert Ramos or Frenchman Nicholas Mahut. He could face a Round of 16 match against either John Isner or Phillip Kohlschreiber.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas extends his winning streak with straight-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta in Minsk

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Last week’s Marseille champion and 2019 Dubai finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Touurnament.

 

Tsitsipas earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Carreno Busta won three consecutive games with a break-back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. The opening set went on serve without breaks to set up a tie-break. Tsitsipas cruised through to 7-1 to win the tie-break.

Tsitsipas broke three times in the first, fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1.

The Greek player has extended his winning streak to 10 consecutive wins and has a record of 8-4 in his 12 matches this year.

“I am happy that I got two-set victories for a very long time. I am not spending extra hours out on the court, which for sure is going to help me”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas sets up a second round match against Alexander Bublik, who fended off three of his four break points in his 6-2 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz. Tsitispas beat Hurkacz 7-5 6-3 last week in the Marseille semifinal last week.

“Bublik is a tricky player. He does unexpected things on the court. I just need to be there, do my job the way I am doing it so far”, said Tsitsipas.

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Benoit Paire saves four match points to beat Marin Cilic in Dubai

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Eighth seed Benoit Paire saved four match points to beat Marin Cilic 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships taking a re-match for the tie-break loss in the fifth set at last January’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

 

Cilic saved two break points before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. The Croatian player saved a break point at deuce before holding serve in the third game for 3-0. Cilic broke serve from 0-40 down to break serve at deuce in the final game of the opening set.

Paire broke serve in the first game of the second set to open a 2-0 lead. Cilic broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cilic won the final three games with a break to win the first set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the decisive set. Cilic saved break points in the fifth and eleventh games. Paire saved two break points to hold serve at deuce. Paire reeled off six consecutive points from 1-1 to win the tie-break 7-1.

“I am really happy about the win. It was not easy today. I was not feeling really good on court. I have been a little bit sick for two, three days. I am really happy to win today and to fight until the end”, said Paire.

 Daniel Evans rallied from one set and one break down to edge Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Fognini went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Evans pulled one break back in the fifth game, but Fognini held his next service games and wrap up the first set 6-3.

Fognini saved two break points before breaking serve at 15 to take a 3-1 lead. Evans broke back at deuce in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Evans converted his second break back in the 10th game to wrap up the second set 6-4.

Fognini started the third set with a break at deuce to take a 1-0 lead. Evans broke straight back in another deuce game to draw level to 1-1. Fognini earned another break at 15 to take a 3-2 lead. Evans broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Evans wrapped up the third set with a break in a marathon 12th game on his sixth match point.

Paire set up an all-French match against Richard Gasquet, who beat Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5.

Another Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert defeated Delray Beach finalist Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-2 in 78 minutes.

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Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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