Rafael Nadal is the first star confirmed for the Barcelona Open - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal is the first star confirmed for the Barcelona Open

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Reigning champion Rafael Nadal is the first confirmed for the next edition of the Barcelona Open Sabadell from 20 to 28 April 2019.

Nadal will take part at the Barcelona Open for the 15th time in his career and will be bidding to win this prestigious tournament for the 12th time.

Nadal was forced to retire from the US Open semifinal against Juan Martin Del Potro due to injury and has not played since then.

The current world number 2 lived up once again as the “King of Clay” with record 11th titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros. The Mallorcan player also won the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome for the 8th time in his career beating Alexander Zverev in a three-set final clinching the 78th career title and his 32th Masters 1000 title. He dropped just one set en route to his 11th triumph at the French Open, where he beat Dominic Thiem in a three-set final.

During the summer he showed good form on other surfaces reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon on grass and won his first Masters 1000 title on hard-court since 2013 beating Stefanos Tsitsipas i6-2 6-1 n the final.

At the US Open he beat Dominic Thiem in an epic quarter final by the scoreline of 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a match which ended at 2 am local time. Unfortunately Nadal withdrew from the semifinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro due to a knee injury after losing the second set.

Nadal won 58 matches and lost just three matches in Barcelona in 2003, when he was beaten by Alex Corretja in the second round as a 16-year-old, in 2014 by Nicolas Almagro in the quarter final and in 2015 by Fabio Fognini in the third round.

“Once again I would like to announce my participation in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. This will be a special year for me given that it is my fifteenth participation. See you in Barcelona next April”,said Nadal.

The 2018 edition was highlighted by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov.

Tournament director Albert Costa expect another great tournament next April, which lives up to the strong tradition of this event. Four or five players in the top 10 are expected to take part in the Barcelona Open next year. In 2018 a total of 101.467 fans attended the seven days of competition, an absolute record in the history of the tournament.

“The last edition was the best that was held. The fact that Rafa comes to Barcelona is great news even if it seems normal to the fans. Having Nada year after year is not something granted as he is getting older and he is potentially tired. It will be his 15th participation since he debuted in 2003. He is at home in his club and appreciates all our work in the tournament. It is a pride to be able to count on the best player in history on clay. Surely nobody will want to miss it”,said Albert Costa.

 

 

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Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill

The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.

The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.

“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.

Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.

“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”

Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin.  Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.

Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.

“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”

As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.

“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares reach the doubles quarter final after saving three match points

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares fended off three match points to take a come-from-behind win over Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic by the scoreline of 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 after 2 hours and nine minutes in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The British and Brazilian doubles team, who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016, reached the quarter final, where they will face former Nitto ATP Finals Henri Kontinen and Jonathan Peers (Murray’s former partner) in the quarter finals.

Murray and Soares fought back from losing the first set by breaking serve in the second set and at the end of the end of the third set.

Murray and Soares reeled off five consecutive points to draw level to 5-5, as they were serving at 4-5 0-40, and won the final two games to seal their spot in the quarter final. Murray and Soares won 82 % of their first serve points.

Murray and Soares have reached the quarter final for the fifth time in their last nine Grand Slam tournaments.

Murray also reached the third round of the mixed doubles tournament. The Scottish player teamed up Bethanie Mattek Sands claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Robert Lindsted and Kristina Mladenovic.

Reigning French Open doubles champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came back from one set down to beat US Rajev Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 setting up a quarter final clash against US legends Mike and Bob Bryan. Salisbury and Ram opened up a 5-2 lead in the tie-break of the second set, but they dropped five consecutive points to lose the second set.

Lukasz Kubot and Horacio Zeballos converted four of their eight break points in their 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Australian wildcards Blake Ellis and Alexei Popyrin setting up a quarter final match against either Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey or Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow.

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Karolina Pliskova Thrashes Muguruza To Reach Australian Open Quarters

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Karolina Pliskova has continued her unbeaten start to 2019 with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1, win over two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open.

The Czech seventh seed recovered from a tentative start to the match to dominate proceeding on the Margaret Court Arena. In what was a battle of former world No.1 players, Pliskova produced a near-perfect performance. Hitting just three unforced errors during the 60-minute clash, compared to Muguruza’s tally of 20. Furthermore, she converted five out of her seven break point opportunities and blasted 23 winners past the Spaniard.

“I feel better with every match that I play here. It’s my first time on Margaret Court (this year) and I’m happy I got the win.” Pliskova said afterwards.
“I think I played well. Obviously the first set was important. We had some very close games. At the beginning we were both a bit nervous. It’s a bit windy, so the conditions are a bit tricky sometimes.”

It was the conditions that proved to be too problematic for Muguruza, who hasn’t won four consecutive matches on the tour for eight months. Since winning the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Muguruza has only managed to reach the last eight of a major in one out of six attempts (French Open 2018).

“It was a very tough match. I was expecting it.” Muguruza said in her press conference. “Pliskova, you have to put a lot of intensity with her. She makes you be on every single ball. I struggled a little bit with the heat or the conditions. I don’t know. I felt it was a little bit heavy today.”

Pliskova now finds herself on a nine-match winning streak following her triumph at the Brisbane International earlier in the month. Her longest winning streak since May. During the off-season, she added Conchita Martinez to her team. A former Australian Open finalist back in 1998, who had previously worked alongside Muguruza on the tour. Also included in Pliskova’s team is former doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs.

“A lot of positive things.” Pliskova replied when asked what Martinez brings. “So far everything is working. I cannot be happier to have this team by me and everything is working well.”

Set to play in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year in a row, the 26-year-old faces a potentially tricky task. Awaiting her will be either top seed Simona Halep or 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. Two players who she has a losing head-to-head record against.

“I know both of them. I have played both of them already. It is going to be definitely tough.” She previewed.
“Simona is world No.1 and it is always tough to play her. And Serena I think she is in great shape this tournament. So we will see.”

Pliskova is bidding to reach the last four of a grand slam for only the third time in her career this week.

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