Madrid Open Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal’s Opening Match, Plus the Women’s Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal’s Opening Match, Plus the Women’s Quarterfinals



Rafael Nadal practicing on Tuesday in Madrid (

Rafael Nadal has won Roland Garros 13 times, Barcelona 12 times, Monte Carlo 11 times, and Rome 10 times.  Yet at the Madrid Open, Spain’s biggest tournament, Nadal has only prevailed five times in 15 appearances, and hasn’t been the champion since 2017.  But Rafa arrives in Madrid with a sensational 20-1 record on the season, and he’s yet to play a match on his beloved clay.


As the men’s singles draw completes second round action on Wednesday, the women’s singles draw is already up to the quarterfinals.  On a loaded Wednesday schedule, other ATP action includes Sascha Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, while the WTA quarterfinals are headlined by two-time champion Simona Halep facing Ons Jabeur, who is the highest seed remaining in a draw that has seen plenty of upsets.

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

Ons Jabeur (8) vs. Simona Halep – 12:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Three-time champion Petra Kvitova is the only woman who owns more wins at the Madrid Open than Simona Halep, and that will change if Halep herself becomes a three-time champion this weekend.  After a calf injury disrupted her 2021, and with new coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Simona seems primed for a strong clay court season.  But Ons has become quite a force on this surface, with a 23-6 record since last year.  Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, with Jabeur’s only victory coming after Simona retired mid-match, though it’s worth noting all three meetings occurred on hard courts.  At a tournament where she’s a four-time finalist, a healthy and rejuvenated Haelp is the favorite.

Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic – Not Before 4:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

This will be Nadal’s first match since the rib injury he suffered six weeks ago at Indian Wells.  And it comes against one of the ATP’s fastest-rising players.  21-year-old Kecmanovic started the year ranked 78th, but has cut that ranking in half with 24 match wins on the season.  Guided by a former Nadal foe in David Nalbandian, Miomir has already reached six quarterfinals in 2022.  And on Tuesday against Alexander Bublik, he committed a mind-boggling zero unforced errors in the entire match.  Kecmanovic faced Nadal two years ago on a hard court in Acapulco, with Rafa prevailing in straights.  Despite this being the weakest of the prominent clay court events in Nadal’s career, the Spaniard remains a considerable favorite on this surface, especially considering how well he has played this year.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Sascha Zverev (2) vs. Marin Cilic – Zverev is a two-time and defending champion, and has taken his last six matches against Cilic, though they haven’t played since 2018.  Marin is only 13-9 lifetime in Madrid.

Amanda Anisimova vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova – Anisimova defeated both Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka to reach this quarterfinal, while Alexandrova overcame Jelena Ostapenko.  Amanda claimed their only previous meeting, two years ago in Doha.

Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof (7) vs. Carlos Alcaraz and Marc Lopez – This is Lopez’s retirement event, where he is teaming with his country’s new teenage star.  Skupski and Koolhof have 27 wins on the season, and lead the year-to-date doubles rankings.

Jil Teichmann vs. Anhelina Kalinina – Teichmann has already taken out Petra Kvitova, Leylah Fernandez, and Elena Rybakina.  Kalinina has eliminated Sloane Stephens, Garbine Muguruza, and Emma Raducanu.  Three years ago on clay in Bastad, Anhelina defeated Jil in straights.

Hubert Hurkacz (12) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Hurkacz was dismal 1-4 on clay last season, but already owns four wins in 2022.  Davidovich Fokina was the runner-up in Monte Carlo, where he upended Novak Djokovic.  They’ve met three times on hard courts, with the Spaniard taking two of those three encounters.

Diego Schwartzman (13) vs. Grigor Dimitrov – Clay is not usually Dimitrov’s strength, yet he’s 6-2 on it this year.  But Schwartzman remains the far better player on this surface, and won their only previous clay court matchup.

Jessica Pegula (12) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo – Pegula will reach a career-high ranking following this event, which could be inside the top 10 if she keeps winning.  Spaniard Sorribes Tormo is coming off two of the biggest wins of her career, over Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina.  Sara has twice beaten Jessica, though they’ve never played in the main draw of a tour-level event.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Lucas Pouille – Tsitsipas has started the clay court season 7-1, with his only loss at the hands of Alcaraz.  Pouille is a former top 10 player currently ranked 174th in the world, as he’s struggled to regain his form after battling injury.  Stefanos nabbed both their prior matches in straight sets.

Wednesday’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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