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Rafael Nadal's Staggering Points Haul During Spring Clay Swing

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Rafael Nadal’s Staggering Points Haul During Spring Clay Swing

Spaniard has been the main man on European red clay since 2005

The clay-court season has been Rafael Nadal’s time to shine for nearly 15 years. Should 2019 be any different? Many fans and pundits believe that the Spaniard is poised to continue his feast of titles and ATP Rankings points. The tennis world will certainly be watching Wednesday as Rafa plays his opening match at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters against countryman Roberto Bautista Agut.  

The Spaniard has racked up 51,475 ATP Rankings points during the European spring clay swing from 2005-2018. He first earned more than 5,000 ATP Rankings points during this stretch in 2010, when he became the first and only player to complete the “Clay Slam” by winning Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.

 Year  Nadal’s Spring Clay Points
 2005  2,340
 2006  2,300
 2007   2,650
 2008  4,610
 2009  3,280
 2010  5,000
 2011  4,700
 2012  4,590
 2013  5,100
 2014  3,870
 2015  1,545
 2016  2,130
 2017  4,680
 2018  4,680
 ALL  51,475

Note: Points values at tournaments increased to current levels in 2008.

During the past 14 years, the Spaniard has earned more ATP Rankings points during the eight-week spring clay swing than almost every other player has earned throughout 14 full seasons. Only Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have earned more than 51,475 points from 2005-2018. The “Big Four” and David Ferrer are the only active players who have earned more than 40,000 ATP Rankings points during this time.

 Player  Total ATP Rankings Points From 2005-2018
 David Ferrer  42,260
 Tomas Berdych  39,065
 Stan Wawrinka  36,275
 Juan Martin del Potro  31,420
 Marin Cilic  29,978
 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  29,596
You May Also Like: Watch Nadal’s 7 Greatest Monte-Carlo Hot Shots

Nadal has amassed 46 titles during the European spring clay swing, including 11 Roland Garros titles and 24 ATP Masters 1000 crowns. He holds the record for most titles (11) at any Grand Slam (Roland Garros), Masters 1000 (Monte-Carlo) and 500-level event (Barcelona). Monte-Carlo has been Nadal’s strongest Masters 1000 event by far, allowing him to hold the records for the most consecutive titles at any single tournament (8) and longest match-wins streak at any event (46).

The World No. 2 will look to add to his ATP Rankings tally when he starts his 2019 clay-court campaign Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters where he seeks an unprecedented 12th title at the event. He is also looking to add to the record 33 Masters 1000 titles he has won.

“This has always been a very special place for me,” said Nadal of Monte-Carlo during the draw ceremony. “I watched all of the great champions here as a kid, so it was always a dream for me to be here.”

After Nadal’s amazing run in last year’s spring clay swing, which saw him win four titles and post a 24-1 record, he will need to produce an equally impressive display this year if he wants to stay competitive in his quest to regain the No. 1 ATP Ranking. If history is any indication, the Spaniard should produce plenty of memorable moments over the next two months.

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Herbert, Djokovic, Nadal & Other Stars Reflect On Notre-Dame Tragedy

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Herbert, Djokovic, Nadal & Other Stars Reflect On Notre-Dame Tragedy

Famous cathedral caught fire on Monday 

When Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert hit his final forehand on Monday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters to defeat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco for the first time on his fourth attempt, it was more than a typical victory; it was one full of emotion.

The 28-year-old did not simply sign his name on the television camera, but he wrote ‘Notre Dame’ with a broken heart underneath it. Tragedy struck on Monday when the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire, burning deep into the night.

“I think many French were affected by what happened in Paris, Notre-Dame. And when we are French and we enjoy Paris, this beautiful city, we are proud of Paris. And when we see Notre-Dame on fire and the spire crumbling down, that was really shocking for me yesterday evening,” Herbert said. “I said to myself that if ever I won, I would like to send a message of love for Notre-Dame that was crumbling down and that I was very affected yesterday evening.”

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The cathedral was completed nearly 700 years ago, and has been a popular tourist attraction for countless people around the world.

“The Notre-Dame Cathedral is just emblematic and wonderful, so when you arrive in Paris you just admire the beauty of Notre-Dame,” Herbert told ATP Tennis Radio. 

ATP Tennis Radio Speaks To Herbert About The Fire:

The fire did not just emotionally touch the Frenchmen playing in Monte-Carlo, though. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic saw the news late Monday night and while he has not discussed it with the French players yet, he did talk about the tragedy with his team.

“It’s one of the most iconic cultural, religious infrastructures in Europe. It’s quite shocking to see that. As I understood, I also saw that simultaneously, at the same time in Jerusalem, a mosque was burning, as well,” Djokovic said. “It’s really sad seeing those iconic buildings and structures fall like that. I’m sending my prayers and of course my best wishes to Parisians, all French people. Hopefully Notre-Dame will rise again.”

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has not spoken to the press since the incident, but he shared his support via social media on Monday evening, saying, “Going to sleep still under shock with the images we see in Paris. All my support to all Parisians and French people and authorities.”

Frenchman Gilles Simon has two sons, and he just took them for a ride on the Seine River last month to show them the views, including the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

“I think that, like everybody else, I was really sad,” Simon said. “Of course I saw the images, and it’s a real pity.

“[It’s also] what it means to people from the world, I would say. Paris is Paris. So many people like to come and visit so I think many people are sad,” Simon told Tennis Channel. “Of course I was living there one month ago. I was on the boat, on La Seine going around and showing it to my kids… we are lucky to have this and we are all extremely sad and depressed about what happened.”

Listen TO ATP Tennis Radio’s Interview With Simon:

Another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, echoed similar sentiments to his countryman. The former World No. 5 may have retired from his match against American Taylor Fritz, but he knows there are bigger things than a tennis match, like the tragedy in Paris.

“It is something that is really sad for the French people but also for everybody, for the whole world, actually, because this was a monument that was well known all over the world,” Tsonga said. “It was really special in Paris, therefore in France, so we are really proud of that monument. We are really sad of what happened yesterday.”

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Cecchinato Completes Comeback, Stuns Wawrinka In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Cecchinato Completes Comeback, Stuns Wawrinka In Monte-Carlo

Italian to face Pella next

After eight games, Marco Cecchinato was still aiming to get on the scoreboard against Stan Wawrinka at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

But the 26-year-old Cecchinato, who had to break serve at 0-6, 4-5, to stay in the match, pulled off a remarkable comeback to stun 2014 champion Wawrinka 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes. Cecchinato was clinical in important moments, converting all three break points he earned to reach the third round in the Principality for the first time.

The 11th seed, who is currently competing at a career-high 16th in the ATP Rankings, continues to add to his growing reputation on clay courts. The Italian has lifted three ATP Tour titles on clay in the past 12 months and also upset Novak Djokovic en route to the Roland Garros semi-finals last year.

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Cecchinato will meet Guido Pella for a spot in the last eight. The Palermo native owns a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Pella, which includes a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory in last year’s Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag final.

Did You Know?
Cecchinato won just five service points in the first set, managing to capture only nine per cent (1/11) of his second-serve points against Wawrinka. In the second and third sets, the Italian won 65 per cent (13/20) of his second-serve points.

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Rafa Opens Title Defence, Sascha Faces Felix; Wednesday Schedule

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Rafa Opens Title Defence, Sascha Faces Felix; Wednesday Schedule

Thiem, returning finalist Nishikori also in action

Eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal leads the way on a busy Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which also features Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and 2018 runner-up Kei Nishikori in second-round matches on Court Rainier III. 

Nadal opens up his campaign for a fourth straight Monte-Carlo title against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The second seed leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0 and dropped just 12 games in the five sets they’ve played. Nadal is a perfect 15-0 in his opening-round matches in Monte-Carlo and hasn’t lost before the quarter-finals in his past 14 appearances. 

You May Also Like: Rafael Nadal’s History In Monte-Carlo

World No. 3 Zverev, a winner of three ATP Masters 1000 titles, faces fast-rising Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head clash. The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime became the first player born in the 2000s to break into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings following his recent semi-final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Zverev has enjoyed past Monte-Carlo success by reaching the semi-finals last year. The German seeks another big run at this event after a disappointing second-round exit last week at the Grand Prix Hassan II.

Fourth seed Thiem opens his clay-court season with a tricky match against veteran Martin Klizan of Slovakia. Klizan leads their FedEx ATP HeadHead rivalry 3-1 and has won both of their previous meetings on clay, but the Austrian won their most recent match last September in St. Petersburg. Thiem is riding high on confidence after winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title last month at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer).

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Fifth seed Nishikori kicks off play on Court Rainier III against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. The Japanese star used his runner-up finish last year in Monte-Carlo as a springboard back into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Nishikori leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Herbert 2-0, but the Frenchman is playing some of his best tennis and reached his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 36 just two months ago.

Other notable matches on Wednesday include sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, 10th seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia squaring off with Radu Albot of Moldova, and 13th seed Fabio Fognini of Italy taking on Gilles Simon of France.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Rafa’s Monte-Carlo History?
Read: Zverev On Felix & Shapovalov: ‘They Will Be On Top’


COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 
[WC] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 
[4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Martin Klizan (SVK) 

COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) vs [6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 
Not Before 12:00 noon
[13] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Gilles Simon (FRA) 
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs [16] David Goffin (BEL) 

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[10] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs Radu Albot (MDA) 
Not Before 12:00 pm
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs Cameron Norrie (GBR) 
After Suitable Rest – Robin Haase (NED) / Wesley Koolhof (NED) vs Alexander Zverev (GER) / Mischa Zverev (GER) 

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
[3] Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) vs Ivan Dodig (CRO) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 
[7] Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Franko Skugor (CRO) vs Karen Khachanov (RUS) / Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 

COURT 11 start 12:00 noon
Marcel Granollers (ESP) / Marc Lopez (ESP) vs [2] Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) 
[5] Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) vs Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 

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Felix On Nadal's Compliment: 'It's Just Amazing'

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Felix On Nadal’s Compliment: ‘It’s Just Amazing’

#NextGenATP Canadian faces Zverev next

When Rafael Nadal was asked to name some of the players to watch during this European clay-court swing, he immediately referenced the #NextGenATP. And from that group, the first player he named was 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“That’s a good sign, of course, if he’s talking good about me. It’s great,” said Auger-Aliassime Tuesday after his first-round win at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. “To start with, that he knows me, that he talks about me, it’s just amazing, because I used to watch him playing on TV, and the distance between he and me was so huge that it was just impossible to be able to play or to be around him at a certain point. So this is really amazing.”

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Felix has rapidly ascended the ATP Rankings in 2019, reaching the final in Rio de Janeiro and the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami to help him climb from 108th to his career-high of 33rd. But the teenager is not taking any of this for granted.

“I have to work hard, to keep on working hard, as I suppose he did when he was my age,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He worked hard. He won titles. Now it’s up to me to keep on working.”

You May Also Like: Felix Books Zverev Clash In Monte-Carlo

Felix’s popularity has continued to increase with every big win he earns. But this is nothing new for the teenager, who broke onto the scene by winning an ATP Challenger Tour match at 14.

“This is not a recent phenomenon, but it is true that this is of a higher scale. I had to adapt to it,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But it’s not a big deal. I mean, you just have to remain the same. I just be the same, follow my routine, so this is not really a problem for me.”

Auger-Aliassime will have a chance to earn his biggest victory yet by ATP Ranking on Wednesday when he faces 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev. Felix claimed his first Top 10 win last month in Indian Wells by defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I think this is a good opportunity. He’s the one who’s more or less the leader of the new generation of tennis players. It’s been a while since he’s been around, so he’s got lots of experience already,” Auger-Aliassime said of Zverev. “So for me, this is going to be a great opportunity to play against him and to see how I do against him. I believe in my tennis. I am going to try to do my best, and I’m very hopeful that I will adjust my play to his. I’m going to try to dictate the game.”

Zverev is well aware of Felix’s rise, despite being three years older than the Canadian. The World No. 3 expects a tough test in his Monte-Carlo opener.

“He’s been one of the best young guys on Tour this year. He made the semis in Miami, made the final in Rio,” Zverev said. “I’m very happy for him because he’s one of the most humble and nicest guys that I know… he’s still young but when he was just starting and the first few times that everybody saw him on the Tour he was always very polite and always very positive.”

This might be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head match between Auger-Aliassime and Zverev, but it certainly won’t be the last. Felix looks forward to competing against Zverev as well as #NextGenATP stars for years to come.

“Of course this is motivating for one another. It would be stupid to think that we don’t need any opponent, because otherwise there is no rivalry, there is no matches. We all need the other one to play high-level tennis,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Each one of us is playing good and we of course want to be winning. At least personally I find this is very motivating. And I will be able to play against Zverev tomorrow, and that’s going to be good.”

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Djokovic Battles Past Kohlschreiber For 850th Match Win

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Djokovic Battles Past Kohlschreiber For 850th Match Win

World No. 1 to face Fritz or Schwartzman on Thursday

Novak Djokovic is no stranger to milestone wins, but the World No. 1 secured another landmark victory on Tuesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The two-time former champion was made to work hard for his 850th tour-level win on Court Rainier III, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 36 minutes. Keen to avoid a second loss to the German at ATP Masters 1000 level this year, Djokovic saved 12 of 16 break points to improve to 9-2 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Kohlschreiber.

“I had ups and downs and in a way felt a bit rusty on the court. I had a tough opponent, of course. Philipp beat me in Indian Wells. It was a match that happened less than a month ago, so of course it was in the back of my mind a bit,” said Djokovic. “I thought I should have maybe stepped in and played a bit more aggressive in the second set, but credit to him for mixing up the pace and playing well.

“I’ll take this win. Hopefully I can play slightly better in the next round, because if I want to go deep in the tournament, I definitely have to up my game.”

You May Also Like: Novak Djokovic’s History In Monte Carlo

At the BNP Paribas Open last month, Kohlschreiber overcame Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the third round. Djokovic entered the match on an eight-match winning streak, following his record-breaking seventh Australian Open triumph in January.

Djokovic is attempting to claim his third title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club this week. The 31-year-old has reached four championship matches at this event, lifting the trophy in 2013 (d. Nadal) and 2015 (d. Berdych). If Djokovic captures his third Monaco crown, he will match Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 33 Masters 1000 titles.

The top seed was put under pressure early in the opening set, but found the corners and benefitted from a mid-court Kohlschreiber forehand error to escape from 15/40 down at 2-2 and 3-3. Djokovic claimed the only break of the set at 4-3 with consistent depth from the baseline, extracting errors from his opponent before serving out the opener to love after 45 minutes.

Neither man was able to find comfort on serve in the second set, with seven consecutive games being won by the returning player. Djokovic recovered from a break down on three occasions to serve at 4-5, but was broken for the fourth time in a row after a series of forehand errors.

The two-time champion extended the streak of service breaks to eight games with depth and heavy topspin on his forehand in the opening game of the decider. Djokovic maintained his advantage through to 5-4, where he claimed victory after Kohlschreiber fired a backhand return long.

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“In a way it’s good I got to spend two-and-a-half hours on the court in my first opening match in the clay court season,” said Djokovic. “This surface is very demanding physically. 

“Tactically, as well, you have to construct the point, be more patient [and] put more spin into the ball… I think from the positive side, it’s actually good that I got to have that much match play, because I did play a lot of practice sets and so forth, but it’s just completely different [to] when you are nervous and playing an official match.”

In the third round, Djokovic will await the winner between Argentine Diego Schwartzman and American Taylor Fritz. The 21-year-old Fritz was leading Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 2-0 on Court Rainier III when the Frenchman was forced to retire.

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Clutch Kei Reigning Again In 2019

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Clutch Kei Reigning Again In 2019

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the Japanese has been dominant when it matters most

Kei is so very clutch. Kei Nishikori has found himself in a winner-take-all deciding set tie-break three times so far in 2019. Three times he has triumphed, including twice at the Australian Open in 10-point Match Tie-breaks. The tie-breaks, which are first to 10, win by two, were implemented for the first time this year to settle five-set matches that reach 6-6 in the fifth.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the best performers in tie-breaks from the past 52 weeks identifies that the Japanese star leads the ATP Tour with tie-breaks won at 77.8 per cent.

Nishikori’s Deciding Set Tie-breaks Won In 2019





BNP Paribas Open

Round of 64

d. Adrian Mannarino

6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4)

Australian Open

Round of 16

d. Pablo Carreno Busta

6-7(8), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-6(8)

Australian Open

Round of 64

d. Ivo Karlovic

6-3, 7-6(6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(7)

Nishikori’s tie-break record in 2018 from Roland Garros to the end of the season was a jaw-dropping 14-2. From Roland Garros to the Round of 16 at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, he was a perfect 12-0 in tie-breaks, including going five-for-five in his first four matches at Wimbledon.

Past 52 Weeks: Tie-Breaks Won / Win Percentage



Tie-Breaks Win Percentage


Kei Nishikori



Milos Raonic



Daniil Medvedev



Novak Djokovic 68%


Taylor Fritz



Felix Auger-Aliassime



Juan Martin del Potro



Fabio Fognini 66.7%


Alexander Zverev 65%


Radu Albot 64.7%

Jumping up the list into a tie for fifth place after the Miami Open presented by Itau is 18-year-old Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime. He was 4-3 with tie-breaks won in 2019 coming into Miami, then won a tie-break in four matches leading to the semi-finals, where he lost to John Isner 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

Isner actually played nine tie-breaks in Miami, winning them all. Four of his matches were decided only with tie-breaks. Despite that streak, he owns the 29th best tie-break record in the past 52 weeks with a win percentage at 57.7 per cent.

Milos Raonic is second on the list, having played 11 tie-breaks to begin the year at the Brisbane International and the Australian Open, and winning nine, including five in a row.

You May Also Like: The One Stat Federer Needs To Improve…

Daniil Medvedev is third, and is currently enjoying a career-high ATP ranking at No. 14. He is 7-3 in 2018 with tie-breaks won, including defeating Reilly Opelka 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-6(0) in Miami. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic sits fourth on the list, winning both recent tie-breaks he played in Indian Wells and Miami.

Four players are tied for fifth with a win percentage of 66.7 per cent. They are Taylor Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini.

World No. 3 Alexander Zverev is ninth on the list, winning 65 per cent of his tie-breaks in the past 52 weeks. Zverev won the Nitto ATP Finals in London in November, winning four tie-breaks against Marin Cilic, Isner and Roger Federer en route to the title.

Jumping into the 10th spot with 64.7 per cent is 29-year-old Moldovan Radu Albot. He has impressively won his last nine tie-breaks in a row, including defeating Daniel Evans 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) in the Delray Beach final in February.

Triumphing in tie-breaks seems like a 50-50 proposition after such a close set, but these players manage to find another gear and dominate their opponents right at the finish line.

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Sonego Stuns Khachanov In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Sonego Stuns Khachanov In Monte-Carlo

Italian qualifier earns first Top 20 win

On his debut at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Lorenzo Sonego is through to the third round after upsetting eighth seed Karen Khachanov 7-6(4), 6-4 on Tuesday.

Sonego had only played one match against an opponent inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings (Isner, 2019 Miami) before taking the court against Khachanov. But the 23-year-old battled past the World No. 12 after one hour and 52 minutes.

The Italian qualifier, who defeated countryman Andreas Seppi in the first round, saved seven of eight break points en route to victory. Sonego owns an 8-6 tour-level record this season and reached his second ATP Tour quarter-final last week at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech (l. to Tsonga).

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The 23-year-old will face Brit Cameron Norrie or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the third round. Earlier in the day, Norrie booked his spot in the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

“We had a lot of long rallies. I think I was just able to defend a little bit better than him,” said Norrie. “When I found my first serve, I hit my spots well and had a high percentage winning on first points as opposed to him. I returned a lot better off the first serve against him.”

Gilles Simon twice recovered from a break down in the first set before claiming a 7-5, 6-1 win against #NextGenATP Australian Alexei Popyrin. The Frenchman will meet 13th seed Fabio Fognini in the third round.

Did You Know?
Sonego defeated Gilles Muller at last year’s US Open. That was the final match of the Luxembourg star’s career.

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Wawrinka: 'We Didn't Know If I Was Going To Be Able To Play Again'

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Wawrinka: ‘We Didn’t Know If I Was Going To Be Able To Play Again’

2014 Monte-Carlo champion reflects on injury, comeback and the future

Stan Wawrinka has reached some of the highest highs in tennis, ascending to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, winning three Grand Slam titles, and an ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the 2014 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But two left knee surgeries in August 2017 sent the Swiss star as low as 263rd in the world last year, and he’s been battling to find his best form ever since.

“When I had the surgery, we didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again because it was a tough surgery,” Wawrinka said. “But now it’s been a long time, I worked really hard to be back where I am. Right now, I’m really happy since the beginning of the year the way I’m playing. I’m happy to be back on the clay.”

Monte-Carlo has long been a special place for Wawrinka, and not just because it’s where he resides. Five years ago, he defeated three Top 10 opponents at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, finishing his run with a thrilling 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 against Roger Federer to lift the trophy.

“That was special, my only Masters 1000 Wawrinka: 'We Didn't Know If I Was Going To Be Able To Play Again',” Wawrinka said. “To play the final here, one of my favourite tournaments during the year, amazing atmosphere to play here, [it was] a special day against Roger. I remember we warmed up together before the final. It was something really, really special that year to win it here.”

Perhaps those happy memories will serve Wawrinka well this week. Clay is the 34-year-old’s most successful surface, having won more than 67 per cent (176-86) of his matches on the red dirt.

“I always feel good and comfortable to come back on this surface. I think the sliding helps my game to play my powerful game. I’ve been feeling great on the court physically, tennis-wise also,” Wawrinka said. “I’ve had some good results [during my comeback], also some tough losses that could have changed a lot in my [ATP] Ranking. But I’m really patient with that and I’m always looking in the present.”

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The Swiss, World No. 36, is at his highest ATP Ranking since last May. And with only 65 points to defend through Roland Garros, he will be looking to take advantage. His win against Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Monday was worth 45 points.

But this is not about one match. Wawrinka feels that the number next to his name is not the key. The Swiss knows his level is back near where it once was, and that on any day, he can compete with the best players in the world.

“I feel good on the court. I feel that I can beat a lot of players here so we will see,” Wawrinka said. “We will see how it’s going to go the next few months but I’m convinced that if I keep pushing myself, keep doing the right things, keep playing at that level I’m going to have a chance to do some big results.”

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Pella Pushes Past Cilic For Second Time

  • Posted: Apr 16, 2019

Pella Pushes Past Cilic For Second Time

Argentine also defeated Cilic at Wimbledon last year

In a rematch of their epic five-set Wimbledon encounter last year, Guido Pella defeated Marin Cilic 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the third round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The 28-year-old, who rallied from two sets down to beat Cilic at SW19 last year, broke Cilic’s serve on eight occasions in Monaco to improve to 13-3 on clay this year. Earlier this season, Pella enjoyed great success on this surface in South America. The Argentine did not drop a set en route to his first ATP Tour title at the Brasil Open (d. Garin) and also reached the championship match at the inaugural Cordoba Open (l. to Londero).

In his next match, Pella will try to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. The World No. 35 will meet last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, who beat 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in three sets despite losing the first eight games of the match.

Did You Know?
Pella reached a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 32 on 18 March. The lefty had not won a match in two prior appearances in Monte-Carlo.

Melzer/Thiem Lead Doubles Winners
Austrians Jurgen Melzer and Dominic Thiem had lost their only two doubles matches as a team heading into the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But the countrymen prevailed on Tuesday, defeating German Philipp Kohlschreiber and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-5.

Melzer, who triumphed alongside Franko Skugor last week in Marrakech, and Thiem won 83 per cent of their first-serve points, while Kohlschreiber and Verdasco captured just 63 per cent of those points. Melzer and Thiem will next play second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo or Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.

Moldovan Radu Albot and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili ousted eighth seeds Raven Klaasen and Joe Salisbury 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-7. Klaasen typically plays with Michael Venus and Salisbury competes alongside Rajeev Ram. Albot and Basilashvili will try to reach the quarter-finals when they face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and Argentine Guido Pella, who defeated Italians Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3.

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Nikola Mektic, who won the BNP Paribas Open with Horacio Zeballos, and Skugor moved past Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-5. The seventh seeds will play Russian Karen Khachanov and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez next.

The other teams that advanced on Tuesday are Argentine Diego Schwartzman/Portuguese Joao Sousa and Brazilian Marcelo Demoliner/Russian Daniil Medvedev.

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