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'It feels good to be back on clay' – Federer marks return with swift win over Gasquet

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

Roger Federer says he would have “always felt regrets” not returning to clay this year after marking his three-year absence from the surface with a rapid win over France’s Richard Gasquet at the Madrid Open.

The Swiss great, 37, needed just 53 minutes to win 6-2 6-3.

“It feels good to be back on the clay now and I enjoy it, to be honest,” fourth seed Federer said.

Gasquet did not look fully fit in his first tournament of 2019 after injury.

Nevertheless, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was at his ruthless best, delighting a mesmerised Caja Magica with a majestic display against the world number 39.

  • Johanna Konta knocked out by Simona Halep
  • Kyle Edmund exits Madrid Open in first round

Federer was making his return to the red dirt for the first time since losing to Austria’s Dominic Thiem at the 2016 Rome Masters, having missed that year’s French Open with a back injury and sitting out the past two clay-court swings in order to preserve his body.

“Once the decision was upon me again for this year, if I would have skipped the clay again, I think I would have felt like that’s not the right decision,” the former world number one said.

“I would have always felt regrets not being on the clay in 2019 because my knee problem is far enough away now.

“That was still playing a little bit part of our decision in 2017, to be quite honest, not from my side but more from the team.”

Federer is a three-time champion in Madrid and received a huge ovation from the crowd, which included Brazilian footballing great Ronaldo, when he arrived on the court.

And the Madrid fans – many of whom perhaps thought they would not see Federer here again – noisily rose to their feet again after he wrapped up a straightforward win.

“It’s been a special night for me to come back and play here,” Federer said.

“The crowds and the ovation I got before and after the game were great.

“It really makes you feel like that was the right choice to come to Madrid, so that felt good.”

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Nadal’s Eyes Are Wide Open For 'Complicated' Felix Clash

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

Nadal’s Eyes Are Wide Open For ‘Complicated’ Felix Clash

Spaniard going for sixth Madrid title this week

Five-time champion Rafael Nadal isn’t one to take opponents lightly, and he’ll be prepared with eyes wide open when he meets #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday in the Spanish capital.

The two have never met, but Nadal knows well what #NextGenATP Canadians can pull off at ATP Masters 1000 events. The Spaniard fell victim to then 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov at the 2017 Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

[Felix] is a complicated opponent. He’s young. He’s played a couple of matches on clay this year already so he’s going to be a difficult opponent. So, at the end, for him here, everything is more even, due to the altitude, the conditions,” Nadal said.

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The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime reached the Rio Open presented by Claro final in February (l. to Djere) and beat Shapovalov to reach the second round in Madrid.

I have to be fit. I have to be with a positive attitude, and hopefully my physical side will be there and then I will have to play tennis. If I play my tennis well, I’ll have possibilities and that is what I’m doing right now, what I’m trying to do,” Nadal said.

The second-seeded Nadal is seeking his first title of the season, after reaching the semi-finals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell before losing to eventual champions Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem, respectively. The last time Nadal came into Madrid without winning Monte-Carlo or Barcelona was 2015.

I would have liked to come here with four titles on clay in my bag, but no more pressure on my shoulders,” Nadal said. “Physically talking, well I try to do my best, look at the positive things, go step by step, look at the positive side of everything.

[Barcelona] was a positive improvement for me and from thereon the trainings, I have been feeling better than the week in Barcelona and I think I’m on the right path. Whatever might happen tomorrow, we will see.”

The Spaniard had a stomach virus on Sunday but has been practising for at least 90 minutes.

Read More From Madrid: Djokovic Advances In Opener | Ferrer Is Not Retired Yet

Despite the stomach problems in the last days, I think that I’m more confident, I have more confidence in my body and I think I’m building up my game with more confidence and I’m feeling much better than two weeks ago when we started Monte-Carlo, so that has been a really good improvement for me,” Nadal said.I’m again enjoying training and I enjoy playing each day and this is a very important step for me.”

Nadal’s home capital might be the place for a turnaround. He is 36-6 since the tournament moved to clay in 2009. “It is one of the most important tournaments in the world and is played in our country,” he said.

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Murray/Soares Set Delpo/Nishikori Clash In Madrid

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

Murray/Soares Set Delpo/Nishikori Clash In Madrid

Barcelona finalists make winning start in Madrid

Third seed Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares set up a second-round clash with the new pairing of Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori at the Mutua Madrid Open after dismissing Radu Albot and Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0, 6-4 on Tuesday. Murray and Soares recently reached the final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Cabal/Farah).

Henri Kontinen and John Peers held on to defeat Australian wild cards Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic 6-2, 6-4 in the night match on Court Manolo Santana. Kyrgios and Tomic had a chance to extend the match with four break points in the final game, but were unable to capitalise against the No. 8 seeds.

Nikola Mektic claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title last year with Alexander Peya in Madrid, and continued his winning ways as he teamed up with Franko Skugor on Tuesday. The Croatians led Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 7-6(4) before the Spaniards retired from the match.

You May Also Like: Skugor/Mektic Save Championship Point To Win Monte-Carlo Title

Mektic and Skugor won the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title three weeks ago, and will continue their chase for a second straight ATP Masters 1000 title when they next face Wesley Koolhof and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Dutch-Greek duo advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Marco Cecchinato and Marton Fucsovics.

Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who finished at No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings in 2018, closed out a 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 win over Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Meanwhile, Robin Haase and Raven Klaasen prevailed against brothers Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev 7-6(6), 7-6(5)

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Madrid Open: Britain's Kyle Edmund knocked out in first round by Fabio Fognini

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

British number one Kyle Edmund lost 6-4 6-3 to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the first round at the Madrid Open.

World number 12 Fognini, 31, took one hour and 30 minutes to secure victory as he broke Edmund’s serve four times.

Edmund could not recover after losing serve at 4-4 in the first set, or once he went 3-2 down in the second.

It is the Briton’s fourth straight defeat, having lost to American world number 82 Denis Kudla in the first round of the Munich Open last week.

The 24-year-old has also lost to Diego Schwartzman in Monte Carlo and, after a first-round victory over Ugo Humbert, to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Marrakech on clay this season.

Number one seed Novak Djokovic, 31, progressed to the third round in Madrid, beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-2.

The Serb is joined by potential quarter-final opponent Marin Cilic, after the Croat recovered from a set down against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Competing in his final tournament before retirement, 37-year-old David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 4-6 6-4 to set up a second-round tie against third seed Alexander Zverev.

Stan Wawrinka beat France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 6-3 and will face Guido Pella in the second round after the Argentine overcame 12th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-2 1-6 6-3.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Jamie Murray and partner Bruno Soares reached the men’s doubles second round, taking just 18 minutes to win the first set in a 6-0 6-4 victory against Nikoloz Basilashvili and Radu Albot.

Later on Tuesday, Roger Federer will contest his first clay-court match in three years against France’s Richard Gasquet, and Barcelona Open champion Dominic Thiem faces Reilly Opeka.

Nadal ‘hopes to be ready’ despite illness

World number two Rafael Nadal is preparing to begin his tournament with a second-round match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime.

A five-time champion in Madrid – most recently in 2017 – Nadal has been struggling with a virus as he aims to improve on back-to-back semi-final defeats.

The Spaniard lost to to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona and Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo as he failed to defend either of his titles in April.

“I’ve been going through a virus. The positive side is I’ve been able to train at least an hour-and-a-half [per session],” said 32-year-old Nadal.

He added: “I hope that tomorrow is going to be a bit better. It’s true that when you have this virus and stomach viruses, the body’s a bit weaker. I’m a bit better than yesterday and yesterday was better than the day before.

“There is a bit more risk of injuries. But of course, this is a very important tournament for me and I hope to be ready. Barcelona was a positive improvement for me. I’m building up my game with more confidence than I had in Monte Carlo. I’m enjoying training and I enjoy playing each day.”

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View Schedule: Rafa & Felix Face Off Wednesday; Zverev To Play Ferrer

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

View Schedule: Rafa & Felix Face Off Wednesday; Zverev To Play Ferrer

Nishikori, Del Potro, Tsitsipas also in action

Rafael Nadal will open his bid for a sixth Mutua Madrid Open title on Wednesday afternoon against #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 18-year-old Canadian, who defeated Denis Shapovalov in the first round, reached a clay-court final earlier this year at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

“He is a complicated opponent. He’s young. He’s played a couple of matches on clay this year already so he’s going to be a difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “For him here, everything is more even due to the altitude, the conditions.”

Defending champion Alexander Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Juan Martin del Potro and Estoril champion Stefanos Tsitsipas also play their second-round opening matches Wednesday. Zverev will confront David Ferrer after the former World No. 3 prevailed against Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday to extend his run in his farewell tournament.

More to come…

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MANOLO SANTANA start 12:00 noon
2 WTA matches
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – [WC] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 
Not Before 8:00 pm
WTA match
Not Before 9:30 pm
ATP – [WC] David Ferrer (ESP) vs [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 

ARANTXA SANCHEZ start 12:00 noon
ATP – [6] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs [Q] Hugo Dellien (BOL) 
ATP – Laslo Djere (SRB) vs [7] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 
ATP – [8] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [LL] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 
ATP – [13] Borna Coric (CRO) or Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs [Q] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs [11] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 

STADIUM 3 start 12:00 noon
WTA match
ATP – Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs Guido Pella (ARG) 
Not Before 4:00 pm
2 WTA matches
ATP – Wesley Koolhof (NED) / Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) or Marco Cecchinato (ITA) / Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs [5] Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Franko Skugor (CRO) 

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COURT 4 start 12:00 noon
4 WTA matches
ATP – Robin Haase (NED) / Raven Klaasen (RSA) vs [2] Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) 

COURT 5 start 12:00 noon
ATP – Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs [15] Gael Monfils (FRA) 
ATP – [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs John Millman (AUS) or Steve Johnson (USA) 
ATP – [3] Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) vs Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) / Kei Nishikori (JPN) 
ATP – [6] Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) or Ivan Dodig (CRO) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 

COURT 6 start 12:00 noon
WTA match
ATP – Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 
WTA match
ATP – [Alt] Austin Krajicek (USA) / Artem Sitak (NZL) vs [WC] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) / Jaume Munar (ESP) 
ATP – [8] Henri Kontinen (FIN) / John Peers (AUS) or [WC] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) / Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs Guido Pella (ARG) / Joua Sousa (POR) 
ATP – Kyle Edmund (GBR) / Neal Skupski (GBR) vs Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) / Horia Tecau (ROU) 

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Madrid Open: Johanna Konta knocked out in second round by Simona Halep

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

British number one Johanna Konta went out of the Madrid Open in the second round, losing to Romanian world number three Simona Halep.

Two-time Madrid champion Halep, 27, wrapped up a 7-5 6-1 win in one hour and 30 minutes.

On Sunday, world number 47 Konta, 27, lost the Morocco Open title to Maria Sakkari in her first final on clay.

Halep, who won the Madrid title in 2016 and 2017, will play Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova in the third round.

“I feel like I started playing at a really good level,” Konta told BBC Sport.

“I thought I found my footing reasonably quickly. As you would expect playing against someone like Simona, she’s going to rally back and what she does incredibly well is compete and really work her way into the points.

“I definitely created chances in that first set – unfortunately I couldn’t capitalise. And then I think I just ran out of a little bit of steam there in the second set.”

Konta was the first to go up a break, leading 2-1 before easing through two service games to take a 4-2 lead.

She found herself at break point to reach 5-2 but Halep managed to hold serve, going on to break Konta to level the scores.

At 5-5, Halep withstood three break points and when leading 6-5, managed to wrap up the set on her fifth set point.

The French Open champion asserted her dominance in the second set, allowing Konta only two points in the first four games.

Konta broke her opponent’s serve to get a game on the board, but Halep broke back immediately before serving out the match.

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Queen's Club: Andy Murray given wildcard for Fever-Tree Championships

  • Posted: May 07, 2019

Former British number one Andy Murray has been given a wildcard to play at Queen’s Club next month and will decide “nearer the time” if he will compete.

The three-time Grand Slam champion, 31, had hip surgery in January.

Murray said in March he was pain-free but rated his chances of playing in the Wimbledon singles at “less than 50%” and has not played competitively since.

The Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s in London will start on Monday, 17 June – two weeks before Wimbledon begins.

Current British top two Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie will feature at the tournament, as will last year’s beaten Wimbledon and US Open finalists Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro.

Defending champion Marin Cilic, three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, Australian Nick Kyrgios and former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic are also named on the entry list.

A wildcard is being held in reserve for five-time winner Murray, who Queen’s say will let tournament director Stephen Farrow know nearer the time of the event if he is fit enough to take it.

Murray broke down in tears at the Australian Open in January, saying in his pre-tournament news conference that he planned to retire after this year’s Wimbledon because of pain in his hip.

However, he said the first Grand Slam of 2019 could prove to be the last tournament of his career.

After a gutsy first-round five-set defeat by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, Murray appeared to soften his stance by telling the Melbourne crowd he hoped to see them again next year.

In his post-match news conference, he said he was considering the resurfacing operation primarily to improve his quality of life.

Murray had the hip resurfacing operation – which keeps more of the damaged bone than a hip replacement, smoothing the ball down and covering it with a metal cap – in London on 28 January.

American doubles player Bob Bryan had the same surgery last year and returned to action, alongside twin brother Mike, five months later. No tennis player has competed in singles after having the operation.

Should Murray compete, it will be the first time since 2006 that Britain has had three direct entrants at Queen’s.

BBC Sport will have live coverage from the west London club across television, radio and online.

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