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Madrid Open: A Guide To The Top Players Who Have Withdrawn

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA AT THE 2022 MADRID OPEN - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

This week is the start of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament in Madrid but there will be a few familiar faces missing from the line-up. 

Held at the Caja Magica, the 10-day event is categorized as a Masters 1000 for men and as a WTA 1000 for women. This year’s singles champions will each take home €1,105,265 in prize money, as well as 1000 ranking points. The majority of the world’s best tennis players are in attendance but some are absent for various reasons. 

So who isn’t playing this year and why? Here is everything you need to know.

MEN’S DRAW

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Things haven’t gone to plan for the 22-time Grand Slam champion so far this season on the clay. After missing two Masters events in America due to his vaccination status, Djokovic returned to action in Monte Carlo where he suffered a shock loss to Lorenzo Musetti in the third round. Then last week at the Srpska Open in Bosnia, he was stunned in the quarter-finals by Dusan Lajovic who went on to win the title. 

Djokovic’s recent blips coincide with an ongoing issue concerning his elbow which has forced him to pull out of Madrid. Neither he nor his team has commented on the issue in recent days with his latest withdrawal being announced by the tournament organizers. However on April 18th Djokovic said to reporters ‘”The elbow is not in an ideal condition, but let’s say it’s good enough.’

He is still down on the entry list for Rome.

JANNIK SINNER: The past few weeks have seen a lot of encouraging results from the Italian who has reached the semi-final stage or better at three consecutive Masters 1000 events. However, doubts over his fitness started to emerge last week in Barcelona where he admitted to reporters that his recovery between matches took longer than he expected. 

Sinner then pulled out of his quarter-final match due to illness which is also the same reason why he is not playing in the Spanish capital. He is yet to go beyond the third round of the tournament in his career.

RAFAEL NADAL: Nadal’s injury struggles have been well documented. He has been absent from the Tour since January due to a hip injury that his team initially thought would sideline him for only eight weeks. However, the recovery hasn’t gone to plan and he faces a race against time to be fit for his title defence at the French Open. 

“I have followed the medical advice but the progress has not been as they told us at the beginning. We find ourselves in a difficult situation, the weeks are passing by,” Nadal said in a video published on April 20th. 
“I was training, but a few days ago we decided to change course, try another treatment, and see if things improve to try and be ready for what is to come. I can’t specify time periods because if I knew them I would tell you, but I don’t know.” He added. 

Nadal has won the Madrid Open five times in his career which is more than any other player. 

MATTEO BERRETTINI: For the second year running the Italian has had to contend with injury issues during the European clay swing. Berrettini recently pulled out of Monte Carlo due to abdominal pain before later being diagnosed with a team in an oblique muscle tear which has sidelined him from the action. 

 “The intense rehab program has begun with my medical team in Barcelona,” Berrettini wrote on Instagram.“I will do everything I can to be back competing as soon as possible. Unfortunately I will not be able to compete in Madrid. I will keep you all updated when I have more news.”

OTHER MEN’S WITHDRAWALS: Marin Cilic remains out of action for the foreseeable future due to a knee injury. Nick Kyrgios has also cited a left knee issue as the reason for his absence. Coincidentally, 2022 ATP Next Gen champion Brandon Nakashima is also out due to a knee problem. 

British rising star Jack Draper has pulled out after struggling with an issue with his abdominal area in recent weeks and Australian Open quarter-finalist Jenson Brooksby is still out of action following wrist surgery. 

WOMEN’S DRAW

Ons Jabeur (TUN) – Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

ONS JABEUR: It was 12 months ago at the Caja Magica when Jabeur won the biggest title of her career to date by defeating Jessica Pegula in the final. However, she has been forced to pull out of this year’s draw with a calf injury. The problem started to arise in Stuttgart where the Tunisian was forced to retire hurt from her semi-final match against Iga Swiatek.

“Further to many medical exams done, it shows that I have a small tear in my calf and I will need more time to recover,” Jabeur wrote on social media.
“I am sad to announce that I won’t be able to compete and defend my title this year [in Madrid].
“I would like to wish to everyone and the tournament a great event and looking forward to coming back next year.”

It is the second injury blow for the 28-year-old this season after she missed a couple of Middle Eastern events following minor surgery.

KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Like Jabeur, the former world No.1 is absent from Madrid after suffering an injury whilst playing in Stuttgart. Pliskova said in a statement that she has injured her knee but didn’t go into the severity of the matter. 

“So sorry I have to announce my withdrawal from @MutuaMadridOpen,” she tweeted on Sunday. “During my last match in Stuttgart, I injured my knee. I will try my best to be ready for Rome.” 

Pliskova has only won back-to-back matches in Madrid once out of eight attempts, which was in 2018 when she reached the semi-finals. 

BELINDA BENCIC: Switzerland’s Bencic, who has won two Tour titles so far this year, has decided to take a brief break to rest her body. The world No.11 confirmed on Instagram that she has been suffering from a hip issue in recent weeks. She will also miss Rome which immediately follows Madrid. 

“I have some discomfort on my hip, which I struggled with during the US swing as well, and need to take a little rest, and recover to be back at 100% for Roland Garros,” Bencic said on Instagram. “I will miss both tournaments dearly but will be back in a few weeks and can’t wait to be back competing soon and continuing in great form.” 

Bencic has won nine out of 14 matches played in Madrid so far in her career. 

OTHER WITHDRAWALS: Both Danielle Collins and Madison Keys have pulled out but neither of them have commented. Meanwhile, Katerina Siniakova is out with a wrist injury.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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