Mutua Madrid Open: Nadal finds Nishikori in the final - UBITENNIS
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Mutua Madrid Open: Nadal finds Nishikori in the final

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TENNIS – Rafael Nadal beat his compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-3 to qualify for the Mutua Madrid Open final where he will be chasing his fourth title at the Magic Box after his previous triumphs in 2005, 2010 and 2013 and his 27th Master 1000 final. Nadal will face Kei Nishikori who won a hard-fought match against David Ferrer in straight sets with 7-6 5-7 6-3. Diego Sampaolo

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

Nadal has bounced back from a difficult start to his clay season where he failed to get through the quarter final at both Mote-Carlo and Barcelona. This week Nadal showed improving form reaching the final without dropping a set.

Bautista Agut, who played his first ever Master 1000 semifinal, recovered from a break down in the sixth game to draw level to 3-all before Nadal broke serve in the next game en route to winning the first set with 6-4.

Nadal cruised to a 4-0 40-15 lead on Bautista Agut’s serve and had a ball to go up 5-0. Nadal committed an error at deuce at 4-1. Agut clawed his way back into the match winning three games in a row with a break-back. Nadal recovered winning the final two games to clinch the win and his 90th career final. At 4-3 the Mallorcan legend broke again with a passing shot.

Bautista Agut is a really dangerous opponent today. He has had great victories this year. It is an important win for me. To be in a final in a difficult tournament at home after losing in the quarter finals for two weeks in a row means a lot to me. So I am very happy”, said Nadal.

In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, whenever I had difficult moments, I was not ready and I was a bit down. I managed to be ready straightaway. In the second set I had a ball to go up 5-0 and he played well and then I committed an error at deuce when it was 4-1. I responded well at 4-3. I managed to serve well and play a good passing shot and to break again”.

Nadal: “After I think a great match yesterday, have the confirmation today that the improvement is real”

Nishikori beats Ferrer 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3

Kei Nishikori converted his 10th match point to win a hard fought three-set semifinal against David Ferrer with the scoreline of 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

Nishikori will be chasing his second back-to-back win on Spanish clay after his triumph in Barcelona two weeks ago. With this win Nishikori becomes the first Japanese player to break the top-10 Ranking.

After Nishikori clinched the first set at the tie-break, Ferrer fended off his first match point in the 10th game with an ace before converting his fifth break point chance in the 11th game. Ferrer fended off two break points before forcing the match to the third set.

After needing treatment on his right thigh at the start of the third set, Nishikori got a crucial break in the sixth game before a hard-fought ninth game which lasted 20 minutes in which Nishikori clinched the win on his 10th match point. Nishikori scored his 14th consecutive win and his 10th win on clay

Nishikori had already beaten Ferrer last March in Miami where he won in three sets with 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 7-6 (11-9) after saving four match points.

Nadal starts as the favourite in the final as he won all their previous six head-to-head matches including a fourth round win at the Australian Open.. Nishikori won just one set in all these matches but he is now in very good form and could pose a threat to Nadal.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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