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Five [Possible] Early-Round Madrid Blockbusters Fans Are Looking To

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

At ATP Masters 1000 level, no win is taken for granted. But Friday’s release of the Mutua Madrid Open draw has thrown up some potential mouth watering second-round showdowns that have grabbed the attention of tennis fans.

Ahead of the start of play Sunday, looks at five possible second-round blockbusters.

[7] Diego Schwartzman vs. Aslan Karatsev
If Karatsev can first get past Ugo Humbert, he’ll get to face Schwartzman for the second time in three months. The Russian, who is fresh from an upset of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Belgrade, took out Schwartzman in the third round of the Australian Open in straight sets during a memorable breakthrough run to the semi-finals. Both Karatsev and Schwartzman have won a title this year (the Russian in Dubai and the Argentine in Buenos Aires). World No. 9 Schwartzman will have points to defend after having a stellar 2020 clay season when he reached the final in Rome, complete with a quarter-final win over Rafael Nadal, and the semi-finals of Roland Garros. 

[8] Matteo Berrettini vs. Fabio Fognini
Fognini will take on a qualifier in the first round and awaiting him if he prevails will be his compatriot Berrettini. The level of play and intensity will be high with both Italians inside of the Top 20 of the Fedex ATP Race to Turin. They’ll be eager to pick up points in Madrid and appear on court at home in Turin when the Italian city hosts the Nitto ATP Finals in November. Berrettini, with a Fedex ATP Ranking of No. 10, just won the ATP 250 in Belgrade (d Karatsev).

[15] Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Casper Ruud
#NextGenATP star Auger-Aliassime is the higher ranked player in this first-round bout but Ruud has been playing the best tennis of his career in recent weeks. The 22-year-old Norwegian just reached the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo with wins over Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta and Fognini. Auger-Aliassime will be looking to have a deep run with new coach Toni Nadal in his corner. In his most recent event in Barcelona, the Canadian picked up wins over Lorenzo Musetti and Denis Shapovalov to reach the quarter-finals.

[2] Daniil Medvedev vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Assuming Davidovich Fokina wins his first round against a qualifier, he’ll be up for a big challenge against Medvedev. Davidovich Fokina is continuing his upward trajectory in the rankings, cracking the Top 50 for the first time this week. He’s into the semi-finals in Estoril and will have four clay tournaments under his belt while Medvedev hasn’t played since Miami. The 25-year-old missed Monte-Carlo after testing positive for COVID-19 and will be eager to get back on court. The next few weeks will prove crucial for the Russian: He has very few points to defend and could turn up the heat on Djokovic for the prized World No. 1 mantle. 

[1] Rafael Nadal vs. Carlos Alcaraz
Alcaraz first has a big task against Adrian Mannarino but if he were to win, awaiting him in the second round is five-time Madrid champion Nadal. It’s huge incentive for the 17-year-old Spaniard as he would be facing the World No. 2 for the first time. Nadal will be well-rested after taking a week off following his 12th Barcelona title triumph.

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Nadal Faces Potential Alcaraz Opener In Madrid

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, the present and future faces of Spanish men’s tennis, could meet in the second round at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open.

Five-time champion Nadal will meet the winner of #NextGenATP Alcaraz’s first-round encounter against Adrian Mannarino. No matter how talented 17-year-old Alcaraz may be, a first-round challenge against wily French veteran Mannarino is not to be taken lightly. A Madrid clash against Nadal would be a dream for Alcaraz, but the Murcia native’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, will make sure his charge does not look past his first-round opponent.

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Nadal is aiming to capture his first title in the Spanish capital since 2017, when he defeated Dominic Thiem in the final. The Austrian joins Nadal in the top half of this year’s draw.

Nadal enters the tournament fresh from his 12th title run at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The World No. 2 saved a championship point in a dramatic three-hour, 38-minute final last week to end Stefanos Tsitsipas’ 9-0 unbeaten start to the European clay swing. Tsitsipas features in the bottom half of the draw alongside second seed Daniil Medvedev.

Alcaraz is not the only #NextGenATP talent in Nadal’s section of the draw. Miami runner-up Jannik Sinner, the 14th seed, is the first seed the 35-time ATP Masters 1000 champion could meet in Madrid. Acapulco titlist Alexander Zverev and Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz are also in Nadal’s quarter of the draw.

Third seed Thiem will make his first appearance since the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in March. The two-time Madrid runner-up will face a qualifier in the second round and is joined in his section by Grigor Dimitrov, the man who ended his Australian Open campaign.

Thiem is projected to face Monte-Carlo runner-up Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals. Rublev may need to get past ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut to reach that stage. Rublev and Bautista Agut, who could meet in the third round, played one of the standout matches of this year’s European clay swing in Monte-Carlo. Rublev needed two hours and 44 minutes to overcome the Spaniard 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-3 at the same stage in the Principality.

Medvedev will contest his first clay-court match of the season against Estoril semi-finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or a qualifier. The Russian, who owns a 17-3 record this year, will be seeking his first win at the Masters 1000 event after first-round losses in 2018 and 2019. Medvedev shares the bottom quarter with a trio of 2021 clay titlists: Belgrade winner Matteo Berrettini, Marbella champion Pablo Carreno Busta and Santiago titlist Cristian Garin.

Monte-Carlo champion Tsitsipas will attempt to continue his impressive start to the European clay swing in Madrid. The FedEx ATP Race To Turin leader will face Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili or Benoit Paire in his first match.

The Greek headlines the third quarter alongside last year’s Rome runner-up Diego Schwartzman, 11th seed Denis Shapovalov and #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. In one of the standout first-round matches, Auger-Aliassime will meet Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Casper Ruud for a spot in the second round.

Schwartzman could meet red-hot Russian Aslan Karatsev, who defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Serbia Open final, in his tournament opener. Karatsev will face Estoril quarter-finalist Ugo Humbert in the first round.

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Ivashka Stuns Two-Time Champ Zverev In Munich

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

Ilya Ivashka earned the biggest win of his career on Friday at the BMW Open when he defeated World No. 6 Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals.

The Belarusian broke Zverev’s serve to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set and won nine of the final 12 games of the match to clinch a 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3 victory on Centre Court. Ivashka capitalised on double faults late in the second set from the two-time champion and claimed the crucial break of the decider at 4-3 to earn his maiden Top 10 win.

“This match was really tough for me and I was [close to losing] in the second set,” Ivashka said in his post-match interview. “I managed well and I tried stay in and fight until the last moment to see if he would give [me] chances and it happened.”

Ivashka owns a 6-2 record on clay this season, following runs to the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open quarter-finals in Marbella and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell second round. Last week in Barcelona, the World No. 107 won three matches from qualifying and pushed eventual champion Rafael Nadal to a third set.

“I just came to play match after match,” Ivashka said. “I knew that I had played well [in the] previous weeks… but I was not expecting [this run].”

Ivashka is through to his second ATP Tour semi-final, more than three years after his run to the final four at the 2018 Open 13 Provence in Marseille. The 27-year-old will face Jan-Lennard Struff for a spot in the championship match, with both players attempting to reach their first ATP Tour final. Struff won the pair’s only previous ATP Head2Head meeting last year.

“[Struff] is a great player,” Ivashka said. “We played one time in Davis Cup last year and it was a good match. He played unbelievable.”

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Take The Madrid Champions Challenge

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have all reached the final in Madrid, but do you recall if they’ve all won the title?

The Mutua Madrid Open has crowned eight different champions since Andre Agassi won the inaugural edition in 2002, including three players who have claimed the title on two surfaces.

Introduced as an indoor hard-court tournament, the Mutua Madrid Open transitioned in 2009, joining the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as one of three clay-court ATP Masters 1000 events in the spring. 

Put your memory skills to the test in the Madrid Champions Challenge, share your results and challenge your tennis friends!

Main draw action at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open gets underway on Sunday, May 2. Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas headline the field at the Masters 1000 tournament. 

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Norrie Upsets Garin To Reach Estoril Semi-finals

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

To kick off quarter-finals Friday at the Millennium Estoril Open, Cameron Norrie picked up his fifth Top-30 win of the season with an upset of Cristian Garin. In two hours and 28 minutes, the Brit battled past the World No. 22-ranked Chilean 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

With a clutch break of serve at 6-5 in the second set, Norrie took control of the momentum and he had a chance to close it out at 5-2 in the third set. He’d serve it out at love in the next game.

“Garin is always so tough on the clay and I think [it’s] one of my best wins ever on the clay,” Norrie said on-court. “It was a battle. He came out a bit sharper than me. I managed to play a good return game in the second set to break there and held my nerve and played some of my best tennis of the week at the 3-2, 4-2 games.”

World No. 50 Norrie has been in excellent form as Friday marked his fourth quarter-final appearance of the year. Garin, a five-time ATP champion on clay, won the crown in Santiago earlier this season. The last time the two had played each other on clay was at Roland Garros in 2013 in the junior draw (Garin won that bout).

Norrie will meet Marin Cilic in the semi-finals Saturday after the Croatian’s highly anticipated clash with Kevin Anderson ended abruptly. Clic had captured the first set 7-6(7) when the South African was forced to retire with a left adductor injury. 

Cilic entered the showdown with a 6-1 lead in their ATP Head2Head Series. Though very familiar with each other, the two former Top 5 stars hadn’t faced off since 2017 and hadn’t played a complete match since Cilic beat Anderson on his way to the 2014 US Open title.

The sixth seed just squeaked out the tie-break, saving a set point before converting on his second opportunity with a big first serve. At the changeover, Anderson, who has been dealing with injuries for more than a year, decided to retire. The two-time Grand Slam finalist is currently ranked No. 105. Heading into this week, he had played just three events this year, going 2-3.

Cilic will play his second semi-final of 2021 as he continues the pursuit for his first title since 2018.

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Nys/Puetz Keep Their Composure In Estoril

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

Hugo Nys and Tim Puetz needed five match points and a 26-point Match Tie-break on Friday to defeat Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 3-6, 6-4, 14-12 and reach their first ATP Tour team final at the Millennium Estoril Open.

The Monegasque-German team saved two of the three break points it faced and held its nerve in the Match Tie-break to reach its second final of the season at all levels. Nys and Puetz lifted the Biella 2 trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour in February (d. Glasspool/Heliovaara).

Nys and Puetz own an 8-1 record at all levels in 2021. Earlier this month, the pair also reached the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open semi-finals (l. to Behar/Escobar).


Gille/Vliegen Save M.P. To Reach Munich Final
Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen saved a match point in another marathon Match Tie-break to reach the BMW Open final in Munich. The third seeds recovered from 9/10 down in their Match Tie-break to defeat German wild cards Dustin Brown and Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-7(2), 13-11.

Gille and Vliegen are attempting to capture their second trophy of the year, following their title run at the Singapore Open in February. The Belgians will meet top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Kevin Krawietz for the title.

Koolhof and Krawietz were handed their place in the final on Thursday, following their 6-4, 6-3 quarter-final win against Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith. Koolhof and Krawietz advanced to the final by walkover, due to the withdrawal of their semi-final opponents Yannick Hanfmann (neck injury) and Dominik Koepfer.

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Struff Survives Krajinovic Thriller In Munich

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2021

Jan-Lennard Struff needed three hours and a final-set tie-break to reach his second BMW Open semi-final on Friday.

The seventh seed recovered from a break down on two occasions in the decider and closed the net well in the final-set tie-break to defeat Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3) on Centre Court. Struff is through to his second semi-final in Munich, seven years after reaching the same stage in 2014 (l. to Fognini).


“It was a very, very hard match,” Struff said in his on-court interview. “I expected a very tough match and a hard fight… In the end, I am very happy that I could reach my second semi-final in Munich.” 

With his first ATP Head2Head victory against Krajinovic (tied at 1-1), Struff improved to 11-6 at the ATP 250. Struff is attempting to reach his maiden ATP Tour championship match this week.

The 31-year-old will face Ilya Ivashka for a spot in the championship match. The Belarusian recovered from a set and a break down to eliminate top seed and two-time champion Alexander Zverev 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3. Struff won his only previous ATP Head2Head encounter against Ivashka last year.

Due to rain, the two remaining quarter-finals will be completed on Saturday. Casper Ruud was leading John Millman 6-3 and Nikoloz Basilashvili held a 5-4 advantage against Norbert Gombos when rain cancelled play for the day.

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Federer To Auction Memorabilia For Charity

  • Posted: Apr 29, 2021

For those dreaming of getting their hands on authentic Roger Federer memorabilia straight from his closet will have their chance in the near future. On Thursday, the 39-year-old Swiss announced he is putting a collection of personal items up for auction at Christie’s to raise money for his foundation. 

“Every piece in these auctions represents a moment in my tennis career and enables me to share a part of my personal archive with my fans around the world,” Federer said. “More importantly, the proceeds will support The Roger Federer Foundation to help us continue to deliver educational resources to children in Africa and Switzerland.”

On 23 June, a live auction will showcase 20 lots (one for each of his Grand Slam titles) with item prices ranging from £3,000-£70,000. A second online auction will be held in July with 300 lower-priced items such as the wristbands from his 1,500th ATP Tour match in Basel.

Items up for auction include:

•The outfit and racquet from his 2007 Wimbledon and 2009 Roland Garros final wins, respectively 
•The cardigan he wore while walking onto Centre Court to play the 2012 Wimbledon final
•The shoes from his 2005 Wimbledon final victory

The collection is estimated to be worth £1 million but the end result could be closer to £1.5 million.

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Klaasen/McLachlan Move Into Estoril Semi-finals

  • Posted: Apr 29, 2021

Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan made it through to their second semi-final of the year on Thursday at the Millennium Estoril Open.

The second seeds claimed 75 per cent of their first-serve points and won six of the final seven points of their quarter-final to defeat Nicholas Monroe and Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(4), 10-6. Klaasen and McLachlan, who also reached the Santiago semi-finals last month, are aiming to capture their second tour-level team trophy this week.


The 2020 bett1HULKS Championship winners will meet Hugo Nys and Tim Puetz for a place in the final. Nys and Puetz defeated Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6(3), 6-1 on Wednesday to reach the final four.

Koolhof/Krawietz Advance To Munich Final
Wesley Koolhof and Kevin Krawietz earned their second straight-sets win of the week on Thursday at the BMW Open in Munich.

The Dutch-German tandem needed just 66 minutes to beat Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court. Following their quarter-final win, Koolhof and Krawietz were handed a place in the championship match after the withdrawal of Yannick Hanfmann and Dominik Koepfer. Hanfmann was forced to withdraw from both the singles and doubles competitions due to a neck injury.

Koolhof and Krawietz will face third seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen or German wild cards Dustin Brown and Peter Gojowczyk for the trophy. Brown and Gojowczyk earned their place in the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win against second seeds John Peers and Luke Saville.

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