Madrid Open Daily Preview: Djokovic and Murray Revisit Their Rivalry, Plus the Women’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Djokovic and Murray Revisit Their Rivalry, Plus the Women’s Semifinals



Andy Murray on Tuesday in Madrid (

On Thursday in Madrid, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will play for the 37th time, and for the first time in five years.  It was assumed they would never play again after Murray’s quasi-retirement due to hip issues.  And it’s most surprising to see them meet on clay, a surface Andy had seemingly sworn off.


Thursday’s schedule features many of the ATP’s top names, with eight of the top 10 players in the world.  And two of these third round matchups see top 10 seeds collide.

In the WTA singles draw, the semifinals are already upon us.  And following many upsets earlier in the tournament, a new WTA 1000 champion is guaranteed to be crowned.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Andy Murray (WC)  – 12:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Djokovic is 25-11 against Murray, and has taken 17 of their last 21 matches, dating back nearly 10 years.  On clay, Novak is 5-1, with Andy’s only victory coming in the final of Rome six years ago.  A week prior to that, they also met in the final of this event, with Djokovic prevailing in three sets.  Given recent history, it’s startling to see Murray has played more matches this season than Djokovic.  Andy is 12-8, while the Novak is only 6-3, as his vaccination status forced him to miss the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami.  But Djokovic gained some extremely valuable match play two weeks ago in Belgrade, where he came from a set down three times to reach the final.  Murray looked great in taking out both Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov this week, and should play freely knowing he’s a huge underdog, especially on this surface.  But a Novak loss would still be quite surprising.

Carlos Alcaraz (7) vs. Cameron Norrie (9) – Not Before 8:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Alcaraz is now a fantastic 24-3 on the year, with three titles.  The Barcelona champion is on a six-match win streak in his home country, and is one round away from what would be a blockbuster quarterfinal against fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.  But Cam Norrie is another of the ATP’s most improved players.  Since the start of 2021, he’s notched 71 tour wins.  During that same stretch, the British No.1 is 18-7 on clay, having achieved two finals last season.  However, in two recent meetings with Alcaraz, Norrie failed to win a set.  And as per Tennis Abstract, Cam is 4-22 lifetime against the top 10, a club Carlitos is now a part of.  Alcaraz is not a player who has allowed pressure to impact his play, so I expect Spain’s new hometown hero to advance and get a rematch with his idol.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Ons Jabeur (8) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova – Both players are vying for their first WTA 1000 final.  Jabeur is 1-6 lifetime against Alexandrova at all levels.

Rafael Nadal (3) vs. David Goffin (Q) – Nadal looked sharp on Wednesday in his first match in six weeks.  Goffin is coming off a disappointing 2021 where he owned a losing record, but was the champion on clay in Marrakech last month.  Rafa is 4-2 overall against David, and 4-0 on clay.

Sascha Zverev (2) vs. Lorenzo Musetti (Q) – Zverev came back from a set down on Wednesday against Marin Cilic, while Musetti took out Sebastian Korda in straights.  This is their first career meeting.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Grigor Dimitrov – These two one-handed backhanders are both having strong clay court seasons.  Tsitsipas is 8-1, and Dimitrov allowed Diego Schwartzman only three games on Wednesday.  Stefanos lead their head-to-head 3-1, and won both their clay court matches.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (8) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner has become the ATP’s escape artist, as he survived three match points in his opening round against Tommy Paul.  Auger-Aliassime took out clay-courter Cristian Garin in the last round by a score of 6-3, 6-0.  This is another first-time encounter.

Jessica Pegula (12) vs. Jil Teichmann – For Pegula, this is a second consecutive WTA 1000 semifinal.  Teichmann is going for her second WTA 1000 final since last August, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.


Angelique Kerber Targets Olympic Dream Ahead Of Tennis Comeback

Angelique Kerber spoke about the possibility of playing the Olympics ahead of her tennis comeback.



(@WeAreTennisFR - Twitter)

Angelique Kerber is targeting a place at this year’s Olympics in Paris as she prepares for her tennis comeback.


The three-time Grand Slam champion is preparing to return to the WTA tour after an 18 month absence after giving birth in February.

Kerber’s last match was at Wimbledon in 2022 when she lost to Elise Mertens in the fourth round.

Now after a long absence Kerber is looking forward to making her return but admits it will be a tough start to the season in Australia, “I’ve done everything, I feel good, we’re right on schedule,” Kerber was quoted by tennishead.

“But it’s too early to make a prediction. In plain language: I have a really cold start in Australia and the most difficult one I’ve had so far. But that’s exactly what motivates me.”

The former Australian Open champion will be hoping for a successful return to Melbourne as she seeks to win a fourth Grand Slam title.

However first for the 35 year-old, it’s the United Cup as Kerber prepares to represent Germany and could have a glimpse of an Olympics preview as she could team up with Alexander Zverev.

The duo are former Hopman Cup finalists and Kerber spoke about the possibility of teaming up with Zverev at the Olympics, “When we meet in Australia, we will definitely talk about it,” Kerber revealed.

“It would make me very happy. The Olympics in Paris are the highlight and playing for Germany is always an honour.”

Kerber is a former silver medallist at the Olympics having lost the 2016 final in Rio De Janeiro to Monica Puig.

Before the Olympics, Kerber will start the season on the 30th December against Jasmine Paolini before Germany face France in their final group match.

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Rafael Nadal Announces First Tournament Since Injury

Rafael Nadal will make his ATP tour comeback in Brisbane.



Rafael Nadal (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has confirmed the date for his comeback to the ATP tour as he looks to add more Grand Slam titles to his collection before his potential retirement.


The 22-time Grand Slam champion has announced that his comeback will take place on the first week of the calendar as he will play the ATP 250 tournament in Brisbane which starts on the 31st of December.

It will be Nadal’s first tournament since last year’s Australian Open after he suffered a hip injury at the event.

In a video on social media Nadal announced his return to the tour as he looks to make an impact in Brisbane, “After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back. It will be in Brisbane the first week of January,” Nadal stated.

January’s event will be a welcome sight to Nadal as he had initially been expected to return during the clay court season but the hip injury was much worse than expected.

That lead to Nadal doing a press conference in Mallorca where he not only said that he was withdrawing from Roland Garros but also hinted that 2024 could be his last year, “My idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me in my tennis career during [next] year, and just try to enjoy that, being competitive and enjoying being on the court, something that today is not possible,” Nadal was quoted by The News as saying.

There is a high level of motivation for Nadal next year as he will want to win the Olympics at Roland Garros in Paris.

However before Nadal can think about the end of his career, the Spaniard will be determined to make an impact in Australia as he looks to stop Novak Djokovic’s dominance.

The tournament in Brisbane starts on the 31st of December while the Australian Open takes place on the 14th of January.

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Nick Kyrgios Opens Up About His Self-Harm Battle And Murray’s Support



Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios says he became addicted to pain during his battle with self-harm that lasted between 18 and 24 months.


In an exclusive interview with Piers Morgan Uncensored on TalkTV, the former Wimbledon finalist spoke about his mental health issues. Kyrgios has previously spoken publically about the topic but has now revealed further details about the extent he went through and the role Andy Murray played in supporting him. He was admitted to a psychiatric ward in London and contemplated suicide following the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

“It was pretty dark to be honest,” Kyrgios told Morgan. “I won tournaments on the professional tour, drinking every night, self-harming, burning things on my arm, cutting myself for fun. It became an addiction of pain. I hated myself. I hated waking up and being Nick Kyrgios.”

One of those who tried to help the Australian address his self-harm problem was three-time Grand Slam champion Murray who noticed cuts on Kyrgios’ arms during one of their practice sessions four years ago. According to The Times, the former world No.1 then alerted Kyrgios’ manager John Morris about the cuts.

Paying tribute to the Brit, Kyrgios says Murray has supported him throughout his career. The 28-year-old has been ranked as high as 13th in the world and has won seven ATP titles. Besides his run to the Wimbledon final last year, he has also reached the quarter-final stage of a major on three other occasions.

“Andy was always a big supporter of me,” Kyrgios said. “As soon as I came on the tour, he kind of saw a work in progress and took me under his wing. Then he realised later in my career that I don’t think I was coachable or I was on my own path, but he was always someone that was looking out for me.
“He saw it [the self-harm] and he said, ‘What’s that on your arm?’ It was pretty bad at that stage. Andy obviously was trying to give me advice on it. But I was just so stuck in my ways at that time that I didn’t listen. Obviously I’m very thankful. I thank him a lot.”

Kyrgios, who has only played one match on the Tour this season due to injury, hopes that he can help others by speaking publicly about his mental health battle. Something he describes as ‘the most powerful thing in his career.’

“I feel like I’ve helped so many people after I opened up about it and put it on social media,” Kyrgios said.
“I’ve almost been a beacon for people who are struggling. When they feel like they’re overwhelmed and they’re going towards drinking, drugs and stuff, they open up and they feel like I’m relatable.
“That’s been the most powerful thing in my career; people coming to me with genuine issues.
“They send me photos in my Instagram, direct messages, self-harming and genuinely wanting to commit suicide.
“I have conversations with these people. Sometimes I’ve had phone calls with these people. That’s making a real difference and I’m just really proud.”

Kyrgios recently had a stint in broadcasting after working for The Tennis channel during the ATP Finals in Milan. He is continuing his rehab from injury but it is unclear as to when he will make his return to professional tennis.

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