Eleven-time Barcelona champion opens his tournament on Wednesday
Rafael Nadal, who is pursuing his 12th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell this week, has accomplished virtually everything a player can on clay in his career. But at 32, there are some still things Nadal has not done.
The Spaniard still has not lost consecutive matches on the surface. At all levels, Nadal has dropped just 45 clay-court matches. In the 44 matches that have come after those defeats, he has lost a combined six sets. The Spaniard won 30 sets in those matches by a margin of 6-0 or 6-1.
In 2011, Novak Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. And in the Spaniard’s next match, John Isner took a two-sets-to-one lead at Roland Garros before the lefty battled back to advance and eventually win the title. That was the closest Nadal ever came to losing back-to-back clay-court matches.
Nadal will look to keep it that way on Wednesday when the top seed faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona. Nadal owns a 5-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 63, winning 13 of 14 sets in their rivalry.
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In other action, #NextGenATP Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will both open their campaigns. Auger-Aliassime begins play on Pista Rafa Nadal against Tunisian Malek Jaziri.
Felix, the 16th seed, is making his debut at the ATP 500 event. Shapovalov, who reached the semi-finals in Madrid on clay last year, opens against Houston champion Cristian Garin.
Wild card and former World No. 3 David Ferrer, competing in Barcelona for the last time, will try to spring an upset against 15th seed Lucas Pouille. Ferrer cruised past German Mischa Zverev in 65 minutes on Tuesday.
Also in action are Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini, Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Karen Khachanov.
Fifth seed Laslo Djere recovered from letting two match points slip in the second set and beat Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(2) on Tuesday at the Hungarian Open.
Djere led 6/4 in the second-set tie-break and served for the match at 6/5, but Gulbis staved off the match points to force a decider. The six-time ATP Tour titlist then served for the match at 5-4 in the third before Djere broke back and won the final seven points of the tie-break.
The Serbian will next meet 17-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner or Hungarian wild card Mate Valkusz. Djere won his maiden ATP Tour title in February at the Rio Open presented by Claro.
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Sixth seed John Millman routed #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who made the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in March, 6-1, 6-2. The Aussie, who made his maiden ATP Tour final last year in Budapest, will next face Hungarian wild card Attila Balazs, who beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4.
Robin Haase held off Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with No. 2 seed Borna Coric, and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who made the third round at last week’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, beat lucky loser Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-3, 6-2.
Spain’s Munar stays perfect against #NextGenATP Tiafoe
Third seed Dominic Thiem ended a two-match losing streak against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the third round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
The 25-year-old Austrian broke Schwartzman six times as the Argentine struggled with his serve, winning just over half of his first-serve points and hitting seven double faults.
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Thiem made the 2017 Barcelona final (l. to Nadal) and will next meet home favourite Jaume Munar, who made the semi-finals of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals last November.
Munar ousted #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe, the 14th seed, 6-4, 6-3 to improve his FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage against Tiafoe to 2-0, which also includes his win at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
To start his clay-court season, the 21-year-old Munar upset No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech. Last week, the Spaniard made the second round (l. to Coric) of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
German Jan-Lennard Struff upset 10th seed David Goffin of Belgium 7-6(6), 6-3 and will meet fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who broke four times and dismissed Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4.
Justin Gimelstob’s future will be decided by the ATP after the leading tennis administrator was sentenced for assault in Los Angeles on Monday.
Gimelstob, a retired two-time mixed doubles Grand Slam winner, was handed three years probation and 60 days community service after pleading “no contest” to a battery charge.
The American is one of three player representatives on the ATP board.
Gimelstob, 42, has also worked as a coach and TV commentator.
An ATP statement read: “The decision was taken to let the judicial process run its course before any judgement was made on his future, so with that process complete this is now a subject for review by the board and/or the player council.
“As a related matter, the election for the role of the next Americas player representative on the ATP board – the position currently held by Gimelstob – will take place as scheduled on Tuesday, 14 May, in Rome.”
The players’ council, led by Novak Djokovic, has the power to remove him, but would need the consent of at least six of its 10 members.
Wimbledon organisers the All-England Lawn Tennis Club announced that the American would not be invited to participate in the invitational events at the 2019 championships, or be permitted to attend the Royal Box.
Former friend Randall Kaplan alleged that early in the evening of 31 October, Gimelstob “punched him in the head and face more than 50 times” in front of Kaplan’s pregnant wife Madison and two-year-old daughter.
Madison went on to have a miscarriage, which the couple believe was a result of the stress of the attack.
Gimelstob, who was also compelled by the court to attend anger management classes, partnered Venus Williams to victory in the Australian and French Opens of 1998 and twice reached the men’s doubles quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
“Justin Gimelstob pled no contest to the charge filed against him and the Judge, after evaluating the evidence, exercised his discretion and reduced the charge to a misdemeanor,” said his legal team in a statement.
“Justin did this to move on with his professional life and focus on his family.”
British number two Cameron Norrie lost 6-2 6-2 to Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in the first round of the Barcelona Open on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old, who climbed to 45th in the latest ATP world rankings, lost serve at the start of both sets before losing the final three games.
Vinolas, 31, is ranked 38 places below the Briton and will now face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the last 32.
Norrie is set to play at next month’s French Open at Roland Garros.
The loss comes less than a week after Norrie exited the Monte Carlo Masters in the round of 16 to Italian Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 40 places below him.
Cameron Norrie suffers Monte Carlo defeat
Dan Evans joins Edmund and Norrie in French Open main draw
In the second round on Tuesday, world number three Alexander Zverev was defeated in three sets by Chile’s Nicolas Jarry, who qualified for the tournament as a lucky loser.
Jarry, 23, saved a match point on his way to a 3-6 7-5 7-6 win, inflicting a fifth defeat in seven meetings on his German opponent.
Third seed and world number five Dominic Thiem progressed to the third round with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Argentine Diego Schwartzman, while two-time Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori recovered from 4-1 down in the first set to record a 7-5 6-2 win over 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz,
Spain’s David Ferrer, who will retire after next month’s Madrid Open, also advanced following a 6-3 6-1 win against Mischa Zverev.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal, chasing a record 12th Barcelona Open triumph, begins his tournament against Leonardo Mayer Wednesday.
Lucky Loser Jarry Saves 1 MP, Stuns Zverev In Barcelona
Nishikori battles on
Nicolas Jarry lost in the final round of qualifying two days ago at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. But now, the Chilean has the biggest win of his career.
The lucky loser saved a match point on Tuesday en route to defeating reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) in a two-hour, 33-minute second-round battle. The World No. 81 is now 3-1 against players inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, having defeated Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic last year.
Jarry held a double-break lead at 3-0 in the third set against Zverev, with a chance to make it 4-0. But Zverev reduced his errors and fired up both himself and the crowd as he clawed his way back, ultimately earning his match point at 6-5 on the Chilean’s serve. Even after barely missing a backhand down the line on that opportunity, Zverev stormed to a 3/0 lead in the ensuing tie-break.
But Jarry never went away, using a five-point spurt to regain the momentum and eventually triumph when Zverev missed into the net. The 23-year-old will next face 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov or home favourite Fernando Verdasco.
Zverev, who began the week 21st in the ATP Race To London, has now lost five of his past seven matches. In two weeks, he will be defending his Mutua Madrid Open crown.
Two-time former champion Kei Nishikori recovered from a slow start to record his 20th match win in Barcelona. The fourth-seeded Japanese star bounced back from 1-4 in the first set to win 12 of the next 15 games in a 7-5, 6-2 second-round victory over American Taylor Fritz in one hour and 41 minutes.
He will next play Canadian No. 16 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, who needed two hours and 42 minutes to overcome Delbonis’ compatriot, lucky loser Guido Andreozzi, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2.
Four-time former finalist David Ferrer, who intends to retire after competing in Madrid, lost just 11 of his service points in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Mischa Zverev of Germany in 65 minutes. The 2008-09, 2011-12 runner-up will next prepare to meet French No. 15 seed Lucas Pouille in the second round.
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Elsewhere, in other first-round action, 19-year-old Spaniard Nicola Kuhn recorded the biggest win of his career over qualifier and No. 76-ranked Argentine Federico Delbonis 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 30 minutes.
It has not been the best start to the 2019 ATP Tour season for Marin Cilic, who last month fell from the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since October 2016. But the World No. 11 is confident that with more matches, starting at this week’s Hungarian Open in Budapest where he is the top seed as a wild card, his best form will come.
“Mentally, physically, [I’m] feeling good. The beginning of the season wasn’t that great for me, had some probems with the knee. Just a little bit in-and-out with my form with that and these past three, four tournaments that I played,” Cilic said. “I was looking to get into form and didn’t find it yet, but mentally I know that I’m working well, practising well and just looking to play a few matches and I know the tournament form is going to get to a good level.”
Cilic did not originally plan to compete at this ATP 250 tournament. But after losing his third consecutive match last week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he wanted to try to gain more rhythm, accepting a wild card into Budapest.
“I didn’t have as many matches these past couple months as I would want to so it’s a good opportunity here to play,” Cilic said. “I also saw that last year’s tournament was really good and that was [what helped] my decision.”
Cilic has accomplished plenty in his career, from reaching a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and winning 18 tour-level titles to beating 32 Top 10 opponents. But even after struggling to start the year, he remains highly motivated to work his way back.
“It comes back to a simple thing: why you play the game? I love the game. I want to do the best I can. It’s as simple as that. Coming every day to practice, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to push yourself because you have big competition on the other side. You know that the guys are also hungry, youngsters are hungry, also top guys are hungry to do well,” Cilic said. “But at the end of the day you have to be clear with yourself why you do this and what you want to achieve. For me, I want to be the best I can be and I know the process for that is a longterm process and I have to be every day dedicated and very persistent with my own goals and with my training.”
Even at 30, Cilic feels there is still room to grow. A reporter mentioned Roger Federer still competing at a high level at 37, to which Cilic joked, “I have 10 more years.”
“I’ve been around. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go,” Cilic said. “It’s been a great journey. I’m feeling that as a player I evolved quite nicely. As a player I improved in a lot of different areas… I feel that I still have a lot of time but that I don’t. Trying to also use every day the best you can because you’re always in a fight against time. Time is ticking away and you need to do the best you can.”
Ferrer: ‘I’ll Have To Find Other Things To Calm The Beast’
Spaniard to compete in Barcelona and Madrid before retiring
The time has come. David Ferrer is retiring next month after playing his final tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open.
He will leave behind him one of the best careers in the history of Spanish tennis, replete with ATP Tour titles (27), a Grand Slam final (2013 Roland Garros) and career-high ATP Ranking of No. 3. The emotional memories he left on the court won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Ahead of his first-round match on Tuesday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Ferrer spoke with ATPTour.com about his two decades as a professional.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen an iconic image; your bandana lying on the court. I don’t do it to look good. It all started in Auckland. I lost the match and that is my last memory of each tournament. It’s like leaving your final drops of sweat behind.
The end of your career is very close. Yes, and I’m feeling good. I feel happy with my transition into accepting that I’m going to stop playing and that this was going to be my last year. There is always a little bit of fear at the last tournaments. You think about how you’re going to feel. But my goal is to be happy. I feel competitive, I’m playing the tournaments that have given me the most affection and that I am most excited about. Thanks to the career I’ve had, I can look back and feel proud of everything I’ve achieved.
Did you expect so much affection? I really didn’t. It’s really surprised me. Above all, from my peers in the world of tennis. For example, in Auckland, which is a completely different country, seeing how they appreciate you. That’s why you want to leave behind good memories of all the years you’ve played tennis. That’s what will stay with me. Apart from having been what I was as a player, I’ve given something that people liked.
Is that worth as much as a title? Of course, easily! It’s worth more! In the end, all you have left is the person, The titles stay in my trophy room, but they are no more than trophies. The experiences I’ve had, the affection I have received from the fans and my peers and friends in the world of tennis is what will stay with me.
How much have you grown as a person since you started playing? Well, it’s what I am. One of the things I feel happiest about is my progress as a person, year by year in the world of tennis. If I look back at myself when I was 20 years old and look where I am now, I see two completely different people. There would be a lot of things about that kid who was starting to play that I wouldn’t agree with. But that’s part of life. Failing, evolving, growing every year as a person and as a tennis player.
What would you say to that kid? To calm down, to be interested in doing other things, to listen to other people, not just to those around him at the time. I’d say so many things to him! I’d ask him above all to be more relaxed and enjoy the moment. I demand a lot from myself, but despite that you can still enjoy every moment.
Were you pressured to play by your parents? I was very lucky with my parents. I’m not just saying that because it’s them, but I’ve always had great respect and regard for this sport. They gave me values in life for which I will be eternally grateful. My father has always set an example. He always insisted that the important thing is not to win or lose, but to do whatever you can, try your best and enjoy playing. You have to be clear that it’s only a sport. You have to understand that defeat hurts and he understood that. But my parents did a good job and I never felt pressured.
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Have you thought about what you’ll do when it’s over? I haven’t thought about it much. I’m sure it’ll be something in the world of tennis. I love and adore it. My life has been so intense and I have travelled so much that what I want is to be with my family for a while and slow down a little. Being able to travel a little slower, to discover the world in a more relaxed way and to focus more on them. Spending time with my family and my son.
I’d like to ski, to commentate, which I’ve never done, and to know how I can communicate… It’s a way of learning through teaching. I have really enjoyed teaching 10 to 16-year-olds. It’s a time for young people and teenagers and that’s where I’d like to help. Not this year, because I want to take a break, but it’s something I’m excited about for next year.
Do you really think that Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have made you a better player? You say that a lot. Without a doubt. They were very ambitious. Rafa has been a mirror for me. Although he is younger and joined the tour later, I’ve learned from him. Winning a tournament and winning it again. Winning at Roland Garros, going to Queen’s Club and winning again… That showed me that it’s not enough when you win a tournament. You have to keep going. That helped me reach number three in the world and to have the consistency I did. If I hadn’t seen those players, I wouldn’t have been such a good player.
But wouldn’t you have won a Grand Slam in another era? I’ll never know. If I hadn’t been such a good player, maybe I wouldn’t have won a Grand Slam. I can’t start thinking about something I don’t know. I can only say that I haven’t won a Grand Slam because I wasn’t able to. I’ve tried to give my all but I wouldn’t exchange places with players that have won one. There are players that have one a Grand Slam and have only played one or two Masters 1000 finals. I’ve played in seven, I’ve been the second or third player in the history of Spain to win X matches, the 12th in the world to win X number of matches… My tennis life has been very good. I felt good about myself for many years of my career.
And the French Open final against Nadal? It’s different because I never had a chance. I’m not blaming anyone, but my motivation for that match was not the best. I went onto court a little distressed. And that’s normal because it was my first final. It’s logical. Anyway, maybe in those moments we were none the wiser. Neither myself or my team had a better idea of how to approach the match. We did what we could.
Which players impacted your career? I’d say Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moyà, Albert Costa and Sergi Bruguera. I learned a lot from them. With Àlex Corretja too as Davis Cup captain. But first Juan Carlos, because he helped me so much. He was a mirror for me and he gave me good advice. He was the first number one and then I came along. It’s not easy because we are from the same community, but he opened his doors to me and offered advice. We were very close. It’s something I’ll be eternally grateful for. It’s similar to what I feel now with Roberto Bautista.
Juan Carlos taught me to help a young player. We got on well and he gave me the chance to be with him at a tournament we had in Valencia. I have a lot of respect and affection for him. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not having taken the step of working with him at certain points of my career. Players like Carlos and Sergi too, they are figures that I could have learnt so much from. There were times in my career when I didn’t know how to do that.
How many true friends do you have from the tour? I would say three or four friends. I have a lot of peers for whom I have a lot of affection. But the friendship I feel with Juan Carlos, with Feli and Marc López, I have a special affection for Rafa… Roberto Bautista too even though he’s younger. They’re special people. I don’t really like to name names though.
Who’s the toughest opponent you’ve faced? For me, it’s Roger Federer. He would change the pace and drive me crazy. Maybe I made him sweat like many players, but I never had the chance to be able to beat him.
Has life passed you by too quickly? It’s gone quickly because I’ve been happy. When life goes slow or you’re in a situation you don’t like everything slows down. If you do a job you don’t like, I imagine it must go very slowly. However, I love what I do, my work has gone by quickly because I’ve been happy
What made you decide to end your career at the Mutua Madrid Open? Because it’s a Masters 1000, because Feliciano is there, because Madrid has always treated me unbelievably well. The people love tennis and I have a lot of affection for the city. I play at home, I have the chance to do so at a Masters 1000 and the best players are there. To me, having the chance to end it playing in a tournament where the best players are, that’s what I want.
What do you think about Feliciano being Tournament Director? I really like it. I’m very biased because he’s a friend of mine. But he’s a necessary figure in the world of tennis. He’s a people person, he has an image, he knows the tour well and he understands tennis players. In that regard, he is the ideal person for the role. I don’t think there will be a better tournament director than Feliciano.
What has your relationship with Manolo Santana been like during this time? It’s been very good. Manolo is a great person. When you talk to him and see the jokes he makes… He has a very happy life at a late age. He has a spark. He’s really helped us young players so much. I remember when he’d call when I lost and it’s unusual to see that someone is concerned for you without getting anything in return, but Manolo did that. I have so much respect for everything he’s given to tennis. He was a pioneer. It’s thanks to him that we are what we are and I am talking to you today.
What memory would you like your son to have of his father? I would like him to remember that his father played with him. That we do things together, that I study with him and spend time with him. Obviously, I’ll never be his friend because I’m his father, but I’d like him to feel he can ask me things and to be open in that regard.
What are the top five moments of your career? The  Roland Garros semi-final where I beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The  Paris-Bercy final.
Were you aware that it was your tournament? I saw my chance when Andy Murray lost, I saw that Novak Djokovic, Rafa and Roger weren’t there… Also, at that time in 2012, I felt very close to them. It was the best time of my career. That leaves three… When I won in Valencia. The Davis Cup [tie] in Seville and the Davis Cup [tie] in Barcelona.
Will you continue to watch tennis? Yes, of course. I already do it because I like it. I don’t do it because I miss tennis or because I’m not at Indian Wells or Australia, just to watch and discover. I like it, not for any reason in particular.
Will you miss the adrenaline of competition? That’s what I’ll miss the most. It’s going to be impossible to find. Competing will be the thing I miss the most. I’ll have to find other things. Cycling or something to calm the beast a little.