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Madrid Open: Caroline Wozniacki out but Simona Halep wins again

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

World number two Caroline Wozniacki was stunned by Kiki Bertens in the third round at the Madrid Open.

The Dane could have overtaken Romania’s Simona Halep as world number one by winning the tournament, but was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Dutch world number 20 Bertens in just 61 minutes.

Bertens will now face five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova.

The Russian, who dropped out of the world’s top 50 last month, beat France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4.

  • Williams withdraws from Italian Open
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Defending champion Halep had earlier registered a straightforward 6-1 6-4 win over Czech Kristyna Pliskova to reach the quarter-finals.

Halep barely looked troubled as she won five consecutive games to clinch the opening set in 29 minutes.

Pliskova produced a better second set but she could not maintain any pressure, with Halep saving all five of the break points she faced.

She finished with 32 unforced errors to Halep’s 13 as her opponent closed out victory in 77 minutes.

Halep will face sixth seed Karolina Pliskova – twin sister of Kristyna – after she knocked out American Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-3.

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Isner Battles Past Countryman Harrison In Madrid

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Isner Battles Past Countryman Harrison In Madrid

American to meet 2017 semi-finalist Cuevas

Miami Open presented by Itaú champion John Isner advanced to the Mutua Madrid Open third round on Wednesday, defeating fellow American Ryan Harrison 7-6(1), 7-6(7).

Isner, currently ranked at a career-high No. 9 in the ATP Rankings, hit 22 aces in the one-hour, 31-minute encounter en route to victory. Isner improves to 7-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Harrison, levelling their 2018 series at 1-1 after Harrison’s success in Acapulco three months ago.

In a match which featured no breaks of serve, Isner required two tie-breaks to secure his 10th victory in Madrid. The 33-year-old dominated the opening set decider, firing his 11th ace of the match to clinch a one-set advantage. The second tie-break proved far more competitive, with both men failing to convert set points before Isner unleashed a powerful forehand into the corner to move into the next round.

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Isner will next face Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas. The 2017 semi-finalist (l. to Thiem) took just short of two hours to overcome Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-2. Cuevas hit 15 aces throughout the second-round clash and dropped just nine points on serve to book a third-round meeting with World No. 9 Isner.

Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer cruised past Fernando Verdasco, who recorded his 500th career singles match win on Tuesday, 6-2, 6-1. The World No. 45 saved all three break points he faced against the Spaniard and clinched victory after 70 minutes with his third ace of the match. Mayer will face Evgeny Donskoy of Russia or second seed Alexander Zverev for a place in the quarter-finals.

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John Isner has now won 10 matches at the Mutua Madrid Open (10-6). The American most notably reached the quarter-finals on his last appearance in the Spanish capital, defeating Adrian Mannarino, Thomaz Bellucci and Nick Kyrgios before falling to Tomas Berdych in a final-set tie-break.

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Nadal Beats Monfils To Open Quest For Sixth Madrid Crown

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Nadal Beats Monfils To Open Quest For Sixth Madrid Crown

Spanish star moves to within two sets of breaking McEnroe’s long-standing record

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal recorded his 20th straight clay-court match win and improved to 48 consecutive sets won on the surface Wednesday as he started his quest for a sixth Mutua Madrid Open trophy.

The Spanish superstar soon dismantled the game of France’s Gael Monfils, hitting 17 winners in a 6-3, 6-1 second-round victory that lasted 74 minutes. He is now two sets shy of breaking John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight sets won on a single surface (carpet) in 1984, including 10 to win the Madrid Indoor Open.

Nadal, who improved to 49-10 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, will next meet fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who will become the Tournament Director in 2019, or No. 13 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

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Nadal got off to a 3-0 lead in his first match on Court Manolo Santana, but talented former World No. 6 Monfils didn’t give up fighting and held break point chances in the first (one) and third games (two). Nadal lost just one of his 13 service points in the 31-minute second set that ended with Monfils, the 2008 and 2010 quarter-finalist, striking a backhand long.

Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is now 17-1 on the season (13-0 on clay), which includes 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas). He is also 14-2 lifetime against Monfils in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

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Birmingham Classic: Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova in 2018 line-up

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Organisers of the Birmingham Classic say this year’s line-up is “one of the strongest in the tournament’s 37-year history”.

The entry list boasts 15 of the world’s top 26 players, including current Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

World number six Karolina Pliskova will join Petra Kvitova and British number one Johanna Konta as they finalise their preparations for Wimbledon.

Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova and Maria Sharapova of Russia will also compete.

The Birmingham event takes place at the Edgbaston Priory Club on 16-24 June.

Tournament director Patrick Hughesman said the calibre of this year’s entry list is “testament to the prestige and reputation that the tournament has built up.”

He added: “Our grass courts are world class and are facilities get better every year and players know that whoever lifts the Maud Watson Trophy on 24 June will have had to battle through an incredibly tough field to get there.”

Muguruza will then defend her Wimbledon title when the third grand slam of 2018 starts on Monday, 2 July.

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Edmund beats Djokovic to reach top 20 for first time

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

British number one Kyle Edmund beat 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic in three sets to reach the third round of the Madrid Open.

Edmund, 23, beat the 30-year-old Serb 6-3 2-6 6-3 in one hour, 40 minutes and will now climb into the world’s top 20.

He will play David Goffin in the next round after the Belgian’s 7-5 6-3 win over Robin Haase of the Netherlands.

“It was a great experience to beat Novak, he is a legend of the game,” Edmund told Sky Sports.

“It’s time to try and beat these guys and I was pleased how I managed my game.”

The pair traded breaks to begin the match before a double fault by Djokovic, currently ranked 12th in the world, handed Edmund the initiative.

The Briton closed out the first set but a scrappy second, with Edmund hitting 10 unforced errors to Djokovic’s three, allowed the former world number one to force a decider.

After breaking the two-time Madrid champion in the third, Edmund saved three break points before serving out the final set to progress.

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Italian Open: Serena Williams withdraws from clay-court tournament

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Serena Williams has withdrawn from this month’s Italian Open, five days after opting out of the WTA event in Madrid.

The decision puts in doubt her participation at the French Open, which begins on 27 May.

Williams is a four-time winner of the Rome event, which takes place from 14-20 May.

She withdrew from the Madrid Open on Thursday, saying she needs more time to prepare for her first clay season since giving birth in September.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has not played a match on clay since reaching the final at Roland Garros in 2016.

She returned to the WTA Tour in March and reached the third round at Indian Wells, where she was beaten by sister Venus, before falling in the first round of the Miami Open to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.

  • Murray comeback likely to be delayed
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Sun, Scenery & History: Puerto Vallarta Sparkles In Challenger Debut

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Sun, Scenery & History: Puerto Vallarta Sparkles In Challenger Debut

Puerto Vallarta makes Challenger debut as municipality celebrates 100 years

For players criss-crossing the globe on the ATP Challenger Tour, adapting to life away from home is as important as what transpires between the lines. 

With hours spent hitting forehands and backhands, enjoying time away from the courts to rest and recharge is critical to success. It’s essential to find the right balance. In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, they understand the rigours of life on tour and are redefining the culture of a tournament. 

Last week, the inaugural Puerto Vallarta Open presentado por La Afición provided an oasis on the Challenger circuit. Located steps from the Pacific Ocean, the $75,000 hard-court event made a dazzling debut under the glistening sun of one of the most popular resort destinations in the world.

Nestled between the blue waters of the Pacific and the towering Sierra Madre mountains, the natural surroundings provided the perfect backdrop for a tournament. With the opportunity to fight for ATP Rankings points while savouring the sun and scenery, players took full advantage.

“Without a doubt I give this tournament a 10 out of 10,” said Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, who lifted the trophy on Saturday. “It’s always difficult for a tournament making its debut, but this week was incredible. 

“The truth is that it’s a beautiful event, with amazing weather. Lots of sun during the day and it’s great to see so many people enjoying the tennis at night. It’s very comfortable for the players. It’s the first edition of what I hope will be many years on the Challenger Tour. I hope they find a home on the circuit.”

Puerto Vallarta

Parota Park welcomed a packed centre court throughout the week, as fans braved the heat for a glimpse of world-class tennis. Menendez-Maceiras rallied past first-time finalist Danilo Petrovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final, celebrating his fourth Challenger crown in front of a sold-out crowd.

The tournament featured much more than stunning views and pristine weather as well. Supported by the tourism bureau of Puerto Vallarta, it provides world-class hospitality, including activities around the city. A sunset boat cruise with a live Mariachi band shuttled players around the Bahía de Banderas – Bay of Puerto Vallarta – on the eve of the event. Later in the week, one of the city’s most popular dance clubs hosted a vibrant player party, providing an ideal escape for those looking to toss aside their racquets and take in the local culture.

And with the municipality of Puerto Vallarta celebrating its centenary in 2018, marking 100 years since the city was established, the tournament was a big fiesta for all involved. 

Puerto Vallarta

“I love it here. Puerto Vallarta has been awesome,” added surging 22-year-old Christopher Eubanks, who entered on the heels of capturing his maiden title in nearby Leon. “The weather, the hotel and the resort being right on the water is incredible. I’m really appreciative for the opportunity to come down to Mexico and play in three really good tournaments. The fans in Guadalajara and Leon were awesome too. They really cheered me on. I credit their support to me getting the win. As a whole I’ve enjoyed my time down here and look forward to coming back.”

Once a mining town in the 19th century called ‘Las Peñas’, Puerto Vallarta emerged when miners from the Sierra Madre needed a port in the bay to load and unload various products. The city soon became an integral hub for agricultural, fishing and forestry activities. Now, with a diverse multi-cultural identity, it also boasts a growing art scene and an exotic habitat with hundreds of species of birds and wildife, in addition to its thriving sports culture.

“This is the first step to position Puerto Vallarta as a great tennis destination,” said tournament president Javier Romero. “We are very excited to finally hold our first edition of the Puerto Vallarta Open. We hope players and fans will continue to enjoy tennis here for years to come.”

The Puerto Vallarta Open presentado por La Afición is the last stop on a new Mexican swing on the ATP Challenger Tour. With five tournaments in six weeks, it all kicked off with the 32nd edition of the San Luis Open and was followed by the debut of the CDMX Open in Mexico City and return of hard-court stops in Guadalajara and León. The country’s commitment to growing the game at the Challenger level has not gone unnoticed by the players.

Puerto Vallarta

“Puerto Vallarta was an amazing tournament and the staff did a really good job,” said Roberto Quiroz. The former University of Southern California standout reached the final in Mexico City, semis in Leon and quarters in Puerto Vallarta. “They treated the players pretty well and we all stayed at the Sheraton resort, which was pretty awesome. We enjoyed it and they had everything set up for us. The club is brand new and they manage it pretty well. It was great to finish the Mexican swing in such a great place.”

With a five-year commitment from the city’s tourism bureau, it’s never too early to book your Challenger vacation. Tennis paradise awaits.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Preview: Monfils Takes On Nadal, Djokovic Building Momentum

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Preview: Monfils Takes On Nadal, Djokovic Building Momentum

Zverev, Thiem continue bids for second clay-court title this season

Gael Monfils knows he needs plenty to go his way if he is to overturn a lop-sided 13-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head ledger against home favourite and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday. A bunch of racquets intact is a good start.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following matches from the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open & vote for who you think will win! 
Nadal vs Monfils | Djokovic vs Edmund | Schwartzman vs Lopez


Facing an opponent riding a 19-match winning streak, including his past 46 sets on the surface, Nadal presents a daunting task. It could be considered an unlucky draw for Monfils, a former World No. 6. 

Still, his tournament preparations have already run smoother in the Spanish capital than they did little more than a week ago. When a player complains of broken racquets, they rarely have anyone to blame but themselves for what is typically the result of venting their on-court frustrations. 

Not so, for Monfils when he touched down in Munich ahead of the BMW Open by FWU. The Frenchman arrived to discover all his racquets had been broken in transit. 

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His coach Mikael Tillstrom’s nephew came to the rescue with new racquets before the Frenchman fell to Mirza Basic in the opening round. Unbroken racquets and an opening-round victory over Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili in Madrid have made for a better start this week.

Against Nadal, in a clash of two 31-year-olds, Monfils will no doubt draw on the 2016 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, in which he pushed the Spaniard to three sets. Monfils caused Nadal no end of trouble in that final with his incredible defence and point-clinching shot-making.

“Gael is a tough opponent for everybody,” Nadal said in Madrid. “He’s a player with a lot of talent, with a lot of potential. He’s a tough opponent, of course.”

Five-time champion Nadal comes off his 11th titles in Monte-Carlo title and Barcelona, respectively. John McEnroe’s 49-set winning streak on carpet in 1984 could well be broken in this tournament.

Monfils, a former No. 6 in the ATP Rankings, is working his way back from his current mark of World No. 41. In a bid to get some matches under his belt in 2018, he added clay-court tournaments in South America after the Australian Open, reaching a semi-final and two quarter-finals from four events.

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Looking to build momentum from an impressive opening-round win against Kei Nishikori, former World No.1 Novak Djokovic meets Brit Kyle Edmund for the fourth time on Wednesday. The 10th-seeded Serbian – a two-time champion in Madrid – has not lost a set in three prior FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters with the 23-year-old. 

Edmund, however, brings clay-court form, coming off his first ATP World Tour final in Marakech (l. to Andujar) and a quarter-final defeat to eventual champion Joao Sousa in Estoril last week. Djokovic’s win over World No. 20 Nishikori was the biggest of his comeback this season.

You May Also Like: Aggressive Djokovic Beats Nishikori In Madrid Blockbuster

“It was exactly what I needed for my confidence and for my game,” Djokovic said. “I was looking forward to having these kind of matches, looking to try to win these kind of matches.”

Second seed Alexander Zverev brings form to his second-round clash with Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. The German comes off a successful title defence over compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber on clay in Munich. Donskoy ended #NextGenATP Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas’s impressive run of late in a third-set tie-break in the opening round.

Fifth seed Dominic Thiem also faces a qualifier in his Madrid opener in Argentine Federico Delbonis. The Austrian claimed their lone prior FedEx ATP meeting in 2015 and has already won a title this season on clay in Buenos Aires. After falling to Nadal in the 2017 Madrid final, Thiem went on to defeat the Spaniard five days later in the Rome quarter-finals.

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Del Potro Reviews ATP World Tour Forehands

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Del Potro Reviews ATP World Tour Forehands

World No. 6 weighs in on the ‘Best ATP World Tour forehand’ debate

Despite possessing one of the most fearsome forehands in history, Juan Martin del Potro is not convinced his signature groundstroke is the best on the ATP World Tour .

The World No. 6, whose forehand has been compared to Thor’s hammer on social media by rival Roger Federer, shared his thoughts on the ‘Best ATP World Tour forehand’ debate after beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3 at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday.

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“I cannot say that my forehand is the best forehand on the tour,” confessed Del Potro. “I think that Federer has a great forehand. And Rafa of course, too. I think that we have three different styles of playing. The ball of the three of us flies differently. Some hit with more topspin, others hit flatter.”

The Tower of Tandil also shared his amusement at the reactions he receives from enthusiastic fans when hitting his most recognised shot.

“When I strike the ball hard, when the people cheer or shout, I just laugh because I have the control of the shot,” said Del Potro. “I’m also enjoying that the people enjoy it or that they cheer me on or shout whenever I hit one of my good forehands.”

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Whether his destructive version of the most common shot in the game would take ultimately win gold, silver or bronze in the age-old debate is irrelevant to the BNP Paribas Open champion however. Del Potro simply enjoys the connection it brings between himself and his loyal fanbase.

“I like that feeling with the people, the connection I have with the people that are supporting me,” shared Del Potro.

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Sanchez Vicario Announces 'Casper Tour' To Honour Former Student

  • Posted: May 09, 2018

Sanchez Vicario Announces ‘Casper Tour’ To Honour Former Student

Sanchez Vicario’s foundation was awarded an ATP ACES For Charity grant this year

Emilio Sanchez Vicario and Feliciano Lopez announced on Tuesday the creation of the 2018 Casper Tour, a series of junior tennis events being held to honour the life of Casper Fernandez, a student at Academia Sánchez-Casal in Florida who passed away last July after a battle against bone cancer at the age of 16.

“The Casper Tour is a tour born from tragedy. Casper was a tennis player who was trying to follow his dream of becoming a champion,” Sanchez Vicario said. “He showed so much courage. In the first moments, he was angry. But then he realised he wanted to help and he wanted to give back. So he convinced his father and me and everyone to try to put something together to help others.”

And from that, the 2018 Casper Tour was born. Players ages nine through 14 will be able to compete in the tournaments, with draws for each year, which are meant to maximise the amount of time juniors get on the court in a competitive environment, rather than forcing them to play against kids older than them. The events are set to take place in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Marbella and Valencia), the United States (New York, Atlanta, Miami and Naples) and China.

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“We lose a lot of good players because at some moments they are just not able to win,” Sanchez Vicario said. “So this tour’s identity is that the kids [will be able to] learn the best values of our sport: the discipline, the learning to be able to be competitors and to do the best at whatever they’re doing in whatever moment, winning or losing.”

The World No. 30, Lopez, has a special connection with Fernandez. Lopez’s father taught the youngster in Spain until he decided that Fernandez’s talent was strong enough to send to Sanchez Vicario’s academy in Florida.

“He was like my brother. He was very willing to become a professional tennis player,” Lopez said. “So after this tough situation, we were thinking how to create something with his name around the world. We also needed to do something not only for him, but to help others. That’s what he really wanted to do. Before he passed away he wanted to create this legacy. He was always trying to help others.”

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According to Sanchez Vicario, he’s happy to see everyone coming together to honour Fernandez.

“To try to help others and to give back is something that is amazing. It brings people together,” the former singles World No. 7 and doubles World No. 1 said. “We can bring people together and then we give back so much in so many ways. I’m very proud of this. I’m very proud to be close to the family and the ATP and the foundations and everyone that wants to be involved in this. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunity.”

Fundación Emilio Sánchez Vicario, an organisation that Lopez works closely with, received an ATP ACES For Charity grant at the beginning of the year.

The ATP ACES For Charity program, which launched in 2011, is a global initiative aimed at giving back to communities where ATP World Tour events are played, as well as recognising and supporting tournament, player and alumni charitable initiatives. Since 2011, the grant programme has awarded 85 grants totalling more than $1,000,000 in donations.

View Lopez And Sanchez Vicario’s Charity Profile

Read More About The ATP ACES For Charity Programme

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