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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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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