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ATP Valencia: Main draw – Ferrer in potential Krygios encounter

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Ferrer has won the Valencia title three times in the past

Ferrer has won the Valencia title three times in the past

David Ferrer has been handed what is probably the toughest start in his quest to claim a fourth Valencia crown, as he could face the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios in the second round.

 

Ferrer enjoys a bye in round one, but with Kyrgios expected to get past his qualifier opponent in the first round, could set up a blockbuster encounter between a experienced veteran and a explosive youngster. Intriguingly, the pair have not met on tour in more than two years, when Ferrer dismissed a teenager Kyrgios in the US Open. This potential match sees a more experienced Kyrgios, with wins over Nadal and Federer under his belt, arrive in Valencia.

The other seeds who benefit from a first-round bye are Feliciano Lopez, Bernard Tomic, and Fabio Fognini.

Fifth seed Benoit Paire also faces a qualifier, whom he should beat, before facing one of two-in form players. Gilles Muller will face Joao Sousa for the right to probably face Paire. With Muller’s more consistent year and lefty serve, and Sousa’s recent early exits since his final appearance in St Petersburg, Muller looks the favourite. Prediction: Muller

In contrast, sixth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez faces a horrible match-up against former top-ten player Fernando Verdasco. Despite Garcia Lopez’ higher ranking, Verdasco dominates the head-to-head six-one, and Garcia Lopez has not beaten him since 2009. Prediction: Verdasco

Another all Spanish affair sees seventh seed Roberto Bautista-Agut take on wildcard entry Nicolas Almagro. Since a foot injury plagued Almagro in 2014, the former top-ten star has struggled to return to the highest level, but did end the career of Jarko Nieminen in Stockholm. Still, Bautista-Agut is more consistent than the now retired Finnish veteran. Prediction: Bautista-Agut.

Eighth seed Jeremy Chardy faces Brit Aljaz Bedene in the first round. Bedene is in very poor form, winning just one main draw match since the US Open (def. Youzhny). Recent one-sided defeats to Denis Istomin and Hyeon Chung suggest this is likely to be a predictable encounter. Prediction: Chardy

In a battle of wildcards, Marcel Granollers will face young Russian Andrey Rublev. Granollers has slid heavily down the rankings this term, and has actually reverted to playing as many Challengers as ATP events. Rublev was dismissed rather easily by Mikhail Kukushkin in Moscow, but Granollers has been shocked by young players already this season (Chung) and it could happen again in Valencia. Prediction: Rublev

For the tournament: There are some big names in Valencia this week, and the potential Ferrer-Kyrgios encounter could go some way to deciding the champion. Bernard Tomic had a great run that was only stopped by Djokovic in Shanghai, and will be a major threat despite his early loss to Baghdatis last week. Prediction Tournament winner: Tomic

Main Draw Valencia:

(1) Ferrer, David ESP vs Bye
Kyrgios, Nick AUS vs Qualifier
Pospisil, Vasek CAN vs Giraldo, Santiago COL
Bedene, Aljaz GBR vs (8) Chardy, Jeremy FRA

(3) Tomic, Bernard AUS vs Bye
Cuevas, Pablo URU vs Carreno Busta, Pablo ESP
Sousa, Joao POR vs Muller, Gilles LUX
Qualifier vs (5) Paire, Benoit FRA

(7) Bautista Agut, Roberto ESP vs (WC) Almagro, Nicolas ESP
(WC) Granollers, Marcel ESP vs (WC) Rublev, Andrey RUS
Bellucci, Thomaz BRA vs Qualifier
Bye vs (4) Fognini, Fabio ITA

(6) Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo ESP vs Verdasco, Fernando ESP
Andujar, Pablo ESP vs Qualifier
Johnson, Steve USA vs Klizan, Martin SVK
Bye vs (2) Lopez, Feliciano ESP

Nor Andy Murray, last year’s winner, nor Tommy Robredo, last year’s runner-up, are taking part in the 2015 event.

 

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In Familiar Surroundings Naomi Osaka Looks To Cause Another Stir At The US Open

The world No.2 is hungry for more glory in New York.

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It has been almost a year since Naomi Osaka scored the breakthrough she so desperately wanted in the world of tennis.

 

Going into the 2018 US Open, the Japanese player has been among those mentioned as one of the potential outside contenders for the title but nothing more. Osaka didn’t just meet those expectations, she exceeded them. Racing to the final by dropping only one set, she met her idol Serena Williams. The first clash between the two were overshadowed by her opponents confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos, however, Osaka still managed to reign supreme. Announcing herself as a force to be reckoned with in the sport.

“My feeling last year was I lost three matches in a row before I came here (to the US Open), so I just wanted to, like, get one match,” wtatennis.com quoted Osaka as saying. “Then it just kept building on from that.
“As opposed to this year, I went to two quarterfinals back to back [in Toronto and Cincinnati], and I feel very confident about how I am right now. So, yeah, it’s a bit contrasting.”

Since her triumph in New York 12 months, it has been a roller coaster journey for the 21-year-old, who is the only Asian player in history to have reached the world No.1 ranking. A surge in popularity placed the introverted player directly into the spotlight. Something she has openly admitted to struggling with. Furthermore, she has become a gold mine for endorsements with Sports Pro Media going as far as naming her the most marketable athlete.

“We’re fortunate that Naomi has the star power and personality to connect with multiple parts of the Endeavor network.” Stuart Duguid, Osaka’s agent and manager, recently said in an interview.

Taking to Flushing Meadows Osaka finds herself in both familiar and unfamiliar scenarios. It will be the fourth consecutive year she had played in the main draw of the major. In the past, she also trained at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which features the largest tennis stadium in the world.

However, this time round the world No.2 enters a grand slam as the defending champion for the first time of her career. Something she unfazed about thanks to her experience at another prestigious American tournament.

“I think going to Indian Wells and kind of learning how defending champion pressure feels, I think it definitely helped me out going into this tournament,” Osaka reflected.
“Because I just feel more loose and comfortable here. I’m not sure if it’s because the last couple of months have been kind of turbulent, but definitely I feel really comfortable and I know that, despite everything, I play well here every year. So I’m not too worried about that.”

The calm and collecting views of the two-time grand slam champion comes following a health scare. At the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, she was forced to retire with an injured knee. Something she has since played down.

“I mean, it’s getting better,” she assured. “Like, I have been playing more, like, longer every day. It’s feeling better. Luckily I’m a fast healer, so I think it’s looking good.”

Osaka will play Russia’s Anna Blinkova in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday.

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Rafael Nadal Talks Injury And The Secret Behind His Success Ahead Of US Open Campaign

The world No.2 is gunning for another deep run at his 59th grand slam tournament.

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For Rafael Nadal hard court tournaments had given him both pleasure and pain throughout his illustrious career.

 

At one stage it looked like the former world No.1 would give up altogether playing on the surface. Between 2018-2019, he was forced to retire or withdraw from 12 out of 13 hard court tournaments he had entered. Due to a variety of injury-related issues concerning his knees, abdomen and more. Yet still, he enters the upcoming US Open as one of the big favourites for the title.

Nadal is the only member of the Big Three to have won a trophy leading up to Flushing Meadows. Successfully defending his title at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Making it the first time in his career he had defended a hard court title on the ATP Tour.

“Of course, arriving to the big events with good feelings helps,” the world No.2 said during media day at the US Open on Friday. “My last events have been win Rome, win in Roland Garros, semi-finals in Wimbledon, and winning Montreal. That’s a positive feeling, positive memory on my mind. That helps for the confidence.”

The talent of the Spaniard has never been disputed. His resume currently features 83 ATP titles and 196 weeks as world No.1. Furthermore, he has won more titles on the clay than any other player. Including a record 12 at the French Open.

It is the body of the 33-year-old that prompts anxiety around his camp. Last year he was forced to retire from his semi-final match at the US Open due to his right knee. Suffering from the effects of some lengthy matches that took place prior to the semi-finals. However, this year round, Nadal is more upbeat about his current health.

“My feeling on the knees are better this year than last year,” he said. “Last year the problem was I played three or four very, very long matches. That’s tough…
“I hope to be ready for it. I think I am playing well. I am practising the right way during these days. Of course, winning in Montreal helps. I am ready for the action.”

Growing up in the Spanish town of Manacor, Nadal believes his somewhat ordinary upbringing has been a key factor to his success as an athlete. With 18 grand slam titles currently to his name, only Roger Federer has won more than him.

“You need to be prepared for the tough moments,” explained Nadal.
“If you overprotect the young kids when they have problems – because in life you are going to have problems at some point – probably they are not very well-prepared.
“Probably that’s one of the reasons I have been able to be very competitive at very young stages of my career.
“I probably got a normal education, not like superstar education. I just played on the street with my friends.
“I had a very really normal life. That helps you to grow with the normal education.”

Nadal has achieved a win-loss record of 58-11 at the US Open so far in his career. He will play John Millman in the first round. Millman was the player who knocked Federer out of the tournament 12 months ago.

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Revitalized Roger Federer Sets Sight On Ending 11-Year US Open Title Drought

The former world No.1 rates his current form ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

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When Roger Federer last won the US Open, arch rivals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were yet to top the world rankings.

 

The Swiss maestro was at one point the king of Flushing Meadows with a 35-match winning streak seeing him win the grand slam five consecutive times between 2004-2008. Something that has only previously been achieved twice prior to the Open Era. William Larned triumphed between 1907-1911 and Bill Tilden dominated New York during the 1920s with six straight titles (1920-1925) and a further one in 1929.

However, since Federer’s last triumph back in 2008, success in New York has evaded him. With his last final appearance taking place back in 2015. However, the world No.3 remains undeterred ahead of his latest US Open campaign.

“We were saying on the practice court two days ago that this is probably the best I’ve felt in years coming into the US Open again, which is encouraging.” Federer told reporters on Friday.
“I’ve been playing well, and playing well in the slams recently, which has been great. I think also the win over Rafael in the Wimbledon semis was big for me. Also the final, the way I played that, is going to give me some extra confidence.”

Stating emphatically that he isn’t placing any pressure on himself, the 20-time grand slam champion will be eager for redemption following his recent Wimbledon misfortune. At The All England Club he had two championship points against Djokovic, but failed to convert as he lost the five-hour clash.

Whilst the loss hurt, Federer said a spot caravanning helped him mentally recover. Switching the focus of that match to his family life. Although flashbacks did haunt him for some time.

“I struggled a little bit the first couple days. At the same time I was caravanning with my kids. I didn’t have that much time thinking about all the missed opportunities,” he explained.
“I was setting up tables and organising my life for my four children, driving around the beautiful countryside in Switzerland.
“Sometimes you have flashbacks, things like ‘oh, I could have done that, should have done that’.
“The next day you’re having a glass of wine with your wife thinking ‘the semis was pretty good, even the finals was pretty good’. You go in phases.”

Not the favourite

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Federer is under no illusion of the potentially difficult task he faces if he wishes to add to his grand slam tally in the coming weeks. World No.1 Djokovic has won four out of the past five major titles. The only exception was the French Open, which Nadal won. Meanwhile, Nadal is the only member of the Big Three to have won a title during the build up to the event. Defending his title at the Rogers Cup.

“I know it’s going to be tough. I’m not coming in as the overwhelming favourite like maybe I did back in 2006 or 2007.” Federer admits.
“I’m very much aware of how I need to approach this tournament mentally.”

Ulike Nadal’s success, Federer hasn’t been so fortunate. Since Wimbledon he has contested only one tournament at the Cincinnati Masters. Where he was stunned in the third round by Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who prevailed in straight sets. Rublev is a former US Open quarter-finalist himself.

“I’m happy where my game is at,” Federer concludes. “Cincinnati might be a good thing that I lost early, who knows?
“It’s maybe one of those things that sometimes needs to happen, like when I won at the Australian Open, went to Dubai, lost first round in 2017, then went on to win Indian Wells and Miami.
“Maybe it’s the same thing, I played a great Wimbledon, I needed to get knocked down in Cincy, to get my act together, train hard.
“That’s what I did. I’m ready for the US Open. It’s going to be a tough tournament to win, no doubt about it. I feel like I’m part of that group who can do it.”

Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal will be Federer’s first round test at Flushing Meadows. Nagdal will be making his grand slam main draw debut at the age of 22. Federer has only failed to reach the fourth round of the tournament once in his 18 previous appearances, which was back in 2000.

Federer will take to the court on Tuesday.

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