Rafael Nadal: "I didn't know that I was back as world number 1" - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “I didn’t know that I was back as world number 1”

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Spain is set to host Germany in the Davis Cup World Group quarter final tie at the Plaza de Toros in Valencia in a 10600-seater venue, a famous bullring built in 1850s.

Valencia is set to host a Davis Cup tie for the fifth time but it will be the first time since 2003, when Spain beat Croatia 5-0 in the World Group quarter finals.

Spain and Germany will meet in a Davis Cup tie for the 17th time in the history of this event, but for the first time since 2014, when Germany beat the Spanish “Armada” in the first round in Frankfurt.

Germany leads 10-6 in the past 16 head-to-head matches, but Spain has won three of the last four meetings and the last three ties at home.

The “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal will make his come-back to the Davis Cup for the first time since September 2016, when he helped Spain team win against India. Rafa will return to the court for the first time since he withdrew from the Australian Open match against Marin Cilic last January due to injury problems. He was forced to skip Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami due to a hip injury and is expected to make his return on the ATP Tour in Monte-Carlo. The Spanish team captained by Sergi Bruguera will feature Roberto Bautista Agut, Marc Lopez, Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer. Pablo Carreno Busta got an injury on his hand and has been replaced by doubles specialist Marc Lopez, who will play alongside Feliciano Lopez in the doubles match.

Nadal will play in the second match against Phillip Kohlschreiber on Friday. He was asked how close he was to 100 % during the press conference.

“I was not good in mathematics at school. So I don’t know about percentages, but I am here to play, and to play as well as possible. From the beginning my idea was to be here, but we have to be respectful with the injury. Sergi Bruguera believes I am ready, and I believe too

In a recent interview with Tennis World Spanish, Nadal admitted that he didn’t even know that he had taken the world number 1 spot from Roger Federer.

“To be honest I didn’t know that I was back as the world number 1. Last year I was excited to end the year to end the year as world number 1”, said Nadal.

“Now I only hope that my body answers well because since Shanghai I have five complicated months. When I had recovered from the knee injury, I was affected by the Psoas lesion in Australia and I cried because of the frustration as well as in Acapulco. I am very willing to play again and I am here to try to do it. Injuries are a reality for a sportsman, but they mean missing tournaments that will never come back. For the future my dream is to be happy, healthy and be with the people I love. Then play tennis as long as possible”.

Spain will also rely on the experience of local star David Ferrer, who boasts an impressive record of 27 wins to just 4 defeats in his 31 Davis Cup appearances.

The German team will be bidding to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2007. Spain won five Davis Cup titles since 2000, but has not reached the semifinals since 2012, when they went on to finish runner-up to Czech Republic.

Spain hosted Germany in a similar bullring venue at the Plaza de Toros de Puerto Banus in Marbella nine years ago.

Spain beat Great Britain in Marbella on clay in the first round last February, but the home team starts as the favourite in front of their very supportive fans.

Spain will face a strong German team led by Alexander Zverev, who has recently boosted his confidence by reaching the final in Miami, where he finished runner-up to John Isner. The German Next Gen star won his first Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome last year. Zverev has a record of three wins and three defeats in his past six appearances in the Davis Cup. The team captained by Michael Kohlmann also features Phillip Kohlschreiber, Jan-Lennard Struff, Maximilian Marterer and Tim Puetz.

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Iga Swiatek beats Emma Raducanu to extend her winning streak to ten consecutive matches in Stuttgart

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Two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek held off 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 3 minutes to extend her winning streak to 10 consecutive matches at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal match against 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who came back from a break down in the third set to beat this year’s Dubai champion Jasmine Paolini.

Raducanu came back from 0-40 down to earn the first break of the opening set. Swiatek converted her third break point in the second game in a seven-deuce second game. Raducanu saved the only other break point at deuce in the sixth game. Swiatek won the first four points and five of the first six points to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Swiatek earned five break points in the second, sixth and in the 12thgame, but she converted only one opportunity. Raducanu converted her only break point in the first game. Swiatek won nine more points than Swiatek. 

Swiatek broke Raducanu in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. This break was decisive, as both players held on their next serve in their next games. 

Swiatek earned six break points in the third, fifth and ninth games, but she converted one chance. The Pole did not face a single break point and won eight more points than Raducanu.

“Raducanu started playing at the beginning pretty loose, like she had nothing to lose, and I totally get that. Sometimes it is like that. I knew I was questioning if she is going to be able to keep the same intensity throughout the whole match. It was not about service games or return games. I was just waiting for my chances to break back and I was sure that I am going to get them”, said Swiatek.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Sebastian Ofner in Barcelona to extend his winning streak

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Sebastian Ofner 6-4 7-5 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive matches after claiming his third title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. 

Tsitsipas earned an immediate break in the first game. Ofner broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break  in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and served out the first set 6-4 with a hold at 15. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner won three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas came back by winning four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to seal the second set 7-5.

Tsitsipas has a record of 17 wins to 5 defeats in Barcelona. The Greek player reached three finals at this tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2023.  

“I feel pretty good, but it is still early in the tournament. The conditions here are very different to Monte-Carlo and I felt it today when I was playing. My job is to adapt and to ensure I can bring my A game again in Barcelona this week. Today was a great test to see where I stand. I am hoping to keep on improving and getting good wins like this under my belt”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitssipas set up a third round match against Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Musetti saved three break points in the first game of the opening set. The Italian player earned two break points with a backhand down the line. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game. Both players went on serve un the 12th game when Carballes Baena saved a set point. Carballes Baena went up a 5-1 lead with two mini-breaks in the tie-break. Musetti won three consecutive points to reduce to 4-5. Carballes Baena won the final two points to take the tie-break 7-4. 

Carballes Baena converted his fourth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Musetti broke back in the fifth game. Carballes Baena saved a break point in the sixth game. The Spanish player sealed the win with a break on his second match. 

Last week’s Monte-Carlo finalist Casper Ruud beat Alexandre Muller 6-3 6-4 to claim his 25th tour-level win of the season. Ruud has drawn level with Jannik Sinner for the most wins in 2024 on the ATP Tour. 

Ruud set up a third round match against Jordan Thompson, who beat Jaume Munar 6-4 2-4 6-4. Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to claim his milestone 400th match win on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut set up a third round match against Cameron Norrie. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins his milestone 400th match on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut came back from one set down to beat Australian Open doubles finalist Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 1 minute at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. 

Vavassori earned an early break in the first game. The Italian player earned three break points in the seventh game, but Bautista Agut saved them. The Spanish player broke straight back in the eighth game. Vavassori broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and saved two break points before closing out the first set 6-4 on his second set point. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games of the second set. Vavassori earned a break point in the fifth game, but he did not convert it. Bautista Agut broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-3. 

Bautista Agut broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1. 

Bautista Agut reached the 400th milestone win on the ATP Tour.  The Spanish player has become the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins. He achieved 20 wins against members of the top 10, ten wins against top 5 players and four against world number 1s. Bautista Agut is one of the nine players, who have beaten Novak Djokovic as World number 1 more than twice. 

“For me it’s just a number. The important thing is that I have done great work over these years, that I have a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of “, said Bautista Agut. 

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