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Djokovic beats Nishikori in Madrid Open first round

  • Posted: May 07, 2018

Novak Djokovic said his first-round win over Kei Nishikori at the Madrid Open was “exactly” what he needed for his confidence after a run of poor form.

The 30-year-old former world number one has failed to reach the quarter-finals in five tournaments since returning from elbow surgery in January.

But he impressed in beating Nishikori 7-5 6-4 to set up a potential second-round tie with Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

“It was exactly what I needed for my confidence,” said the Serbian.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion, now ranked 12th in the world, said earlier this month that his confidence had been knocked by making a premature return two months after surgery.

British number one Edmund faces Russia’s Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday.

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“I was looking forward to these kind of matches, looking to try to win these kind of matches,” said Djokovic, who split with former head coach Andre Agassi in April.

“I couldn’t ask for a better start. I feel much better about everything that is happening on the court and around tennis in general than maybe two months ago.”

The victory was Djokovic’s first against a top-20 opponent since beating Gael Monfils at Eastbourne in June last year, with the Serbian having to abandon his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych in July because of the elbow injury.

World number 20 Nishikori, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of last month’s Monte Carlo Masters, is also making his way back up the rankings after missing six months with a wrist injury.

Elsewhere on Monday, Canada’s world number 24 Milos Raonic beat Argentine qualifier Nicolas Kicker 6-3 6-2 to set up a second-round match against third seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-1 6-3 and will next play Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, who beat compatriot Pablo Andujar 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

Benoit Paire hit 39 winners to upset fellow Frenchman and 15th seed Lucas Pouille 6-2 6-3 to set up a tie with Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

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Del Potro/Thiem Beaten On Doubles Debut

  • Posted: May 07, 2018

Del Potro/Thiem Beaten On Doubles Debut

Haase/Rojer to face fifth seeds Murray/Soares in second round

Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers were solid on serve on Monday to get the better of Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6(8) in 87 minutes at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Cuevas and Granollers won the first three games of the match, then, towards the end of a competitive second set, won the first four points of the tie-break. Del Potro and Thiem recovered to lead 5/4 and, having saved one match point at 5/6, could not convert one set point of their own at 7/6 as del Potro returned a backhand long.

Cuevas sealed victory with an unreturned served for a place in the second round against top seeds and defending champions Lukas Kubot and Marcelo Melo.

In the other only doubles match on day two, Dutch pair Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer knocked out Santiago Gonzalez and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 7-5, 6-3 in 74 minutes. They now face fifth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.

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Did You Know?
In the first 13 editions of the Mutua Madrid Open (2002-2014), only three winning doubles teams did not feature Daniel Nestor, Bob Bryan or Mike Bryan. Nestor won three of the first four championship matches in Madrid alongside Mark Knowles and also triumphed with Nenad Zimonjic in 2009 and 2014, while Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the event on five occasions between 2006 and 2013.

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Nadal Leaving Nothing To Chance In Madrid

  • Posted: May 07, 2018

Nadal Leaving Nothing To Chance In Madrid

Five-time champion will play Monfils or Basilashvili in his first match

Rafael Nadal may be 19 matches (and 46 sets) unbeaten on his favourite surface, but even one of the sport’s greatest icons isn’t leaving anything to chance in his preparations for the Mutua Madrid Open, where he is a five-time champion.

“I think that I go through a process of adaptation,” said Nadal on Monday. “I have played a couple of tournaments before where I have played really well. In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, you have the feeling that you are in control of the situation. Here, it’s different. It takes you time to adapt to how the ball bounces and flies.

“Day by day I keep improving. I have better feelings. I’m happy to be back here. It’s always special to play at home. It’s a very, very special moment, a very special occasion for me to be able to play here.”

The 31-year-old superstar, who has sunk his teeth into five titles from nine Mutua Madrid Open finals, arrived early in the Spanish capital to acclimatise in training sessions with Dominic Thiem, who he beat in last year’s championship match, Grigor Dimitrov and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

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Nadal has already picked up 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), where he also passed 400 match wins on clay courts. With a 401-35 lifetime record on the surface (.920), according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, the best winning percentage of any player in ATP World Tour history, Nadal remains humble of his achievements.

“I don’t think that I am superior to the other players [on clay],” said Nadal. “Maybe some tournaments have been better than others, but that doesn’t guarantee that in the future I’m going to be better than my opponents.

“I’m very happy for all the things that have happened… I’m not worried about being the favourite player or not. I try to do things the best possible way, to be in shape. When I’m able to do this, well, it’s all fine. The day I’m not going to be worried about my shape or about my tennis, that will be the day when I won’t be successful any more.

“I just have to be ready in every single moment [and] be patient. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve always been very respectful of my opponents because each day it’s completely different when you go out there and play on a tennis court. You have to bear in mind that you can either win or lose.”

In the 10th year of play at the Caja Magica, the 31-year-old will be hoping to draw inspiration from the fantastic atmosphere in his first match against France’s Gael Monfils or Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

“The crowd is always great. Every year that I’ve played here, I play with the full court with the crowd supporting. The crowd here is special… We had a great event in indoor, [conditions] too, before. But, at the same time, this event is even bigger than what used to be in indoor. The tournament is a great event and hopefully will stay here for a long time.”

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ATP Rankings Movers: Sousa Returns To Top 50 With Home Title

  • Posted: May 07, 2018

ATP Rankings Movers: Sousa Returns To Top 50 With Home Title looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 7 May 2018

No. 48 Joao Sousa, +20
It had long been a dream of Joao Sousa’s: become the first Portugese-born player to win an ATP World Tour title on home soil. And with the crowd’s help on Sunday, Sousa achieved the milestone to win his third ATP World Tour title and first since 2015 Valencia.

He also climbed closer to his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28, which he reached in May 2016. The right-hander jumped 20 spots to No. 48 and could come close this season to breaking the Top 30 again. Before Estoril, Sousa had reached a semi-final (Marrakech) and beaten two Top 10 players at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments (No. 9 Goffin, Miami; No. 5 Zverev, Indian Wells).

You May Also Like: Read & Watch: Portugal’s Crowning Moment: Sousa Reigns In Estoril

No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber, +6
The 34-year-old German veteran climbed back into the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings by reaching the final of the BMW Open by FWU in Munich. Kohlschreiber hadn’t dropped a set before falling to Alexander Zverev, who retained his Munich crown. It was Kohlschreiber’s first final of the season.

No. 40 Stefanos Tsitsipas, +4
In Estoril, the #NextGenATP Greek continued his accelerated pace on the red dirt by making the semi-finals (l. to Sousa) and setting a new career-high in the ATP Rankings. It marked the second consecutive week that the 19-year-old had reached a semi-final and beaten a Top 10 player (d. No. 8 Anderson). In Barcelona, Tsitsipas swept No. 7 Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals before falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final.

Tsitsipas currently leads the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players who compete at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan.

No. 56 Frances Tiafoe, +8
The #NextGenATP American, like Tsitsipas, is having the breakout season of his career. Two months after winning his maiden ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach, Tiafoe made his second tour-level final in Estoril (l. to Sousa). Next for Tiafoe, who matched his career-high of No. 56: cracking the Top 50. The right-hander is currently in second place in the ATP Race To Milan.

See Who’s Trailing Tsitsipas, Tiafoe In The ATP Race To Milan

No. 82 Taro Daniel, +32
The Japanese right-hander hadn’t reached a semi-final before last week in Istanbul, but on Sunday evening, he was celebrating his maiden ATP World Tour title and a new career-high ATP Ranking after beating Malek Jaziri to win the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.

Daniel, who won four tour-level matches in all of 2017, won five matches in a row in Istanbul, knocking out Italian Matteo Berrettini, Aljaz Bedene of Slovakia, Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva and French veteran Jeremy Chardy before beating Jaziri, who was also competing in his first ATP World Tour final.

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Davis Cup: Glasgow to host World Group play-off with Uzbekistan

  • Posted: May 07, 2018

Glasgow’s Emirates Arena will stage Great Britain’s Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against Uzbekistan from 14-16 September.

The losers will drop down into the Europe/Africa zonal group.

After suffering a first round loss to Spain, GB are featuring in the play-offs for the first time since joining the top-level World Group in 2014.

Britain won the trophy in 2015 when Andy Murray led the way to a first title for 79 years.

  • Edmund & Norrie win Estoril doubles

Former world number one Murray missed February’s defeat by Spain, as did Kyle Edmund, who is now GB’s highest ranked player at 22 in the world.

Murray has not played since Wimbledon last year but is aiming to return to the ATP Tour next month, following hip surgery in January.

Denis Istomin, 31, is Uzbekistan’s most high-profile player but has dropped to 91 in the singles rankings.

GB’s last appearance in Glasgow was a 3-2 semi-final defeat by Argentina in September 2016.

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