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Medvedev's Madrid Goal: 'At Least Win One Match'

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Ahead of the Mutua Madrid Open, Daniil Medvedev outlined his goals for the clay season. But the second seed had his eye on something far more straightforward than lofty targets like a 11th tour-level title or a fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown.

For the second-seeded Russian, as long as he wins one match the trip will be considered a success. After years of going winless in Madrid (0-2), Rome (0-2) and Roland Garros (0-4), Medvedev is eager to get out of the red as he works to translate his world-beating hard-court game onto clay.

“That’s the goal. I always said for me it’s always step by step,” Medvedev said in his pre-tournament press conference. “So the goal actually for all three tournaments, Rome, Roland-Garros, and Madrid, is to at least win one match in each of them.”

Coming from a player who has reached two Grand Slam finals and has been ranked as high as World No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, aiming for one victory might seem a surprising goal. But for Medvedev, keeping things simple might prove the key for a long-awaited clay-court breakthrough.

“Of course, when I come to [a] tournament, the main goal is to win it,” he said. “It’s tougher on clay than on hard courts, so [I] will adjust, try my best, [and] hope to show some good tennis, because that’s the most important. When I show good tennis I can win some great matches.”

There are a few encouraging signs for Medvedev. Most importantly, he’s won ‘some great matches’ on clay already. In 2019, he fought his way into the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals with victories over Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas. That same year, he went on to reach the final in Barcelona (l. Thiem) with a victory over two-time champion Kei Nishikori along the way.

Another positive sign? The conditions couldn’t be better for Medvedev. In Madrid, the altitude (667 metres/2,188 feet) has historically made the courts more forgiving for players like Medvedev who prefer faster surfaces.

“I would say it’s more comparable to hard courts here in Madrid because the clay is fast, altitude, serve goes fast,” Medvedev explained. “In the results and in the game, we can see that guys who suffer a little bit on clay can play better here.

“That’s also one of the things that makes me feel more comfortable before the tournament. After, it’s always the same thing that the first match is a first match.”


Medvedev will have to hit the ground running as he contests his first tournament since the Miami Open presented by Itau due to a positive COVID-19 test ahead of Monte-Carlo. He’ll take on either a qualifier or Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match. Davidovich Fokina recently reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Monte-Carlo (l. Tsitsipas, walkover) and recorded his first Top 10 win over a resurgent Matteo Berrettini.

“Of course [it] will be a little bit tougher [for me] than other guys,” Medvedev said. “For example, I will be playing maybe Davidovich or [a qualifier]. Davidovich played like five tournaments on clay already. I played zero.

“I definitely need to win some matches to just get this feeling of winning matches on clay, because that’s the most important.”

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Shapovalov's Big Swap: A Backwards Hat For A Bandana

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

When Denis Shapovalov began his clay-court season, he made news that had nothing to do with his game. The Canadian had traded his backwards hat for a bandana.

The 22-year-old has sported the new look in Barcelona, Estoril and now Madrid, where on Sunday he reached the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open with a 6-1, 6-3 win against Dusan Lajovic.

“I don’t know. I was just feeling it,” Shapovalov said, cracking a smile. “Actually, I had a haircut, and it went a little bit too short, shorter than I wanted it. I did want to get it short, but not this short.

“It was definitely the look I wanted to just change [things] up. But it’s tough to wear a bandana when you have long hair. So I have no idea how Rafa was doing it back in the day.”

According to Shapovalov, there was a practical reason to wear a backwards hat.

“The hair always gets in my face. I wanted to cut my hair a bit shorter and just try out the bandana look. I definitely like it. I feel like it’s different,” Shapovalov said. “I wore a bandana when I was really young, so it’s kind of cool to just change it up. I was just bored, I guess.”

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Ramos-Vinolas Captures Estoril Crown

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Albert Ramos-Vinolas’ impressive clay-court form in 2021 was rewarded on Sunday when the Spaniard collected his third ATP Tour title at the Millennium Estoril Open.

The 33-year-old rallied from a set and a break down and won 51 per cent of his second-serve return points (19/37) to defeat fellow left-hander Cameron Norrie 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). Ramos-Vinolas triumphed in two hour and 44 minutes, and he is now 16-5 on clay this year. The Spaniard owns seven more clay-court victories than any other player on the ATP Tour this season.

2021 ATP Tour Clay-Court Wins Leaderboard

Rank Player Win-Loss Record
1 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 16
T2 Pablo Carreno Busta 9
Federico Delbonis 9
Stefanos Tsitsipas 9
5 Facundo Bagnis 8

Ramos-Vinolas has won all three of his ATP Head2Head encounters against Norrie. The World No. 46 also beat Norrie on clay in the first round of the 2018 Davis Cup and at the 2019 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

After trailing by a set and a break, Ramos-Vinolas attacked with his forehand to recover the break in a marathon game at 2-1 in the second set and he capitalised on multiple Norrie errors to force the match to a decider. A final-set tie-break was needed to decide the outcome of the match and Ramos-Vinolas trusted his powerful forehand in key moments to dictate rallies, extract errors and clinch victory.

Norrie was aiming to capture his maiden ATP Tour title. The World No. 50, who won the Estoril doubles crown in 2018 (w/Edmund), defeated second seed Cristian Garin and sixth seed Marin Cilic en route to his second tour-level championship match (0-2).

Did You Know?
Norrie and Ramos-Vinolas’ clash was the second ATP Tour final of the season between left-handed players. At the Cordoba Open in February, #NextGenATP Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo defeated Ramos-Vinolas in another three-set championship match.

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De Minaur Battles From The Brink: 'I'm Very Proud How I Hung In There'

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Alex de Minaur made an impressive comeback on Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, rallying for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory against Jaume Munar to reach the second round.

The Australian No. 1 arrived in Madrid having lost five of his past six matches. But even though Munar led 6-4, 4-2, De Minaur continued to battle and eventually prevailed after two hours and 23 minutes.


“This is one of those wins that really helps your morale, helps build a lot of confidence,” De Minaur told Tennis Channel. “It was about an hour and a half of me not being too comfortable out there, not playing my best tennis knowing I could bring a higher level, but just not executing. I’m just very proud how I hung in there. I just kept going, kept trying to stay positive and eventually kept putting myself in a position to break.

“It finally went my way and I was able to play some much better tennis and tennis that I wanted to play. [I am] very happy.”

Munar, a wild card, got to within two service holds of a victory without dropping his serve. But De Minaur ultimately broke the Spaniard four times on Stadium 3 to set a second-round clash against 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov or South African Lloyd Harris.

“I’m glad that today I told myself that whatever happened, I was going to stay positive the whole way. Even if it didn’t go my way, at least I wasn’t going to lose that match because of my attitude,” De Minaur said. “It worked out today.”

De Minaur now leads Munar 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. In their only previous tour-level clash, the Aussie triumphed in five sets at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

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Khachanov/Rublev Roll Past Fognini/Schwartzman In Madrid

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev overcame a tricky first-round test against Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman 7-6(5), 6-2 to make a winning start at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.

The Russian duo recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the first set against Fognini and Schwartzman, who recently reached the quarter-finals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Khachanov and Rublev broke back and took them into a tightly-contested tie-break, where just one mini-break for 2/0 made the difference for the Russians.

Khachanov and Rublev took charge in the second set, creating four break opportunities and converting twice to close out the victory in an hour and 18 minutes. They booked a second-round clash against third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

Also in action, Marcelo Demoliner and Daniil Medvedev reprised their occasional partnership to take down Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski 6-3, 7-6(4) in an hour and 22 minutes. Demoliner and Medvedev saved six of the seven break points they faced en route to victory against the Brits, who arrived in Madrid after reaching back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 finals in Miami and Monte-Carlo (l. Mektic/Pavic).


Demoliner and Medvedev await the winner between seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot and wild cards Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round.

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Felix: 'I Feel Super Privileged & Lucky To Have Toni Nadal'

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

In an extract from Eurosport’s Players’ Voice series, Felix Auger-Aliassime discusses working with Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle. The #NextGenATP Canadian reveals how their relationship came together, how much respect he has for “Uncle Toni” and more.

I feel super privileged and lucky to have Toni in my team. Throughout my whole childhood I remember him by the side of his nephew, Rafa. He’s been around for a long time and has won everything the sport has to give as a coach so it’s extremely motivating to have him by my side. I think he’s a person I can learn a lot from, both as a person and as a coach.

Growing up, I remember seeing a lot of him on TV when I was watching Rafa’s matches and he just struck me as this very devoted and passionate coach. Of course he was his uncle, but ultimately he’s a coach that was willing to go above and beyond for his player – he seemed to have this vision for Rafa’s career and gave him everything he needed.

The first time we both met was actually at Monte-Carlo two years ago. Each year there’s a players’ party and I was rehearsing for my part, which was a piano performance. He came into the room, saw me and stopped to say that he’d seen me play in Indian Wells and that he liked my attitude and my game.

His words kind of stayed with me and it got me thinking about how great it would be to have somebody like him on my team; somebody who had a different, fresh view to potentially see things that we may be missing.

So at the end of last year when I was back home in Canada, we approached him to see if it could be a possibility. He agreed to talk to us and suggested a trial at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, so we headed out there for two weeks and everything just seemed to work really well. After that, I started my season and we kept in touch before announcing the partnership not long after.

From the feedback I’ve had, I think everyone thinks it’s only a good thing; my coach Frederic, the rest of the team, my family, and other coaches and players on the tour. Will it give me an advantage? We will see, but I think in the end, what happens on the court is most important and I still have to do the work – it’s not like having Toni automatically improves my performances or my ranking right away.

It’s very early days, but so far we’ve been talking a lot about where we see my career heading, which is essentially to reach the highest levels and win the biggest tournaments.

Read Auger-Aliassime’s Full Eurosport Players’ Voice Column

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Shapovalov Superb In Madrid Opener

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Denis Shapovalov arrived in Spain on a two-match losing streak, but the dynamic lefty was near his best on Sunday, defeating 2019 Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

“Just definitely felt a lot better today. I felt very good on the court,” Shapovalov said. “I’m just happy to get the first win.”

The Canadian was nearly flawless on serve, winning 90 per cent of his first-serve points and saving all three break points he faced. Shapovalov won a higher rate of second-serve points (63%) than Lajovic did first-serve points (50%).

The 11th seed broke the Serbian’s serve in his first return game and he ran away with the momentum from there.

Shapovalov’s Second Serve Location & Speed

Denis Shapovalov
Graphic courtesy of Hawk-Eye Innovations/ATP Media
Shapovalov was the aggressor at the Caja Magica, going after his shots to the tune of 21 winners to just five for Lajovic. But the 22-year-old did not overplay, and he was able to advance after 63 minutes.

“Not much can change in the span of a couple of days, but Madrid is a place where I have had a lot of success, from back in juniors, making semis here in the Masters [1000 event] and finals of Davis Cup,” Shapovalov said. “It’s just a place where it kind of feels like home to me and I just feel so comfortable.” 


Shapovalov will next play unpredictable Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik, who battled past Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6(5), 6-3. Fucsovics served for the first set and led the tie-break 5/2, but was unable to take advantage of that lead, and Bublik hit eight aces in the match.

The Kazakhstani defeated Shapovalov in three sets in their only previous ATP Head2Head clash last year in Marseille. This year’s Singapore runner-up and Miami quarter-finalist is making his Madrid debut.

In other action, American Tommy Paul ousted home favourite Pedro Martinez 6-4, 7-5 after one hour and 34 minutes. The World No. 58 will next challenge sixth seed Andrey Rublev. The Russian has won their two previous meetings.

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Nys/Puetz Collect First ATP Tour Team Title In Estoril

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Hugo Nys and Tim Puetz clinched their maiden ATP Tour team title on Sunday at the Millennium Estoril Open.

The Monegasque-German pair survived its second straight Match Tie-break in Estoril to defeat Luke Bambridge and Dominic Inglot 7-5, 3-6, 10-3 after 89 minutes. Nys and Puetz were competing together for just the second time at an ATP Tour event, following their run to last month’s AnyTech365 Andalucia Open semi-finals in Marbella.

“We are very, very happy… We have known each other for a very long time and we have just recently decided to play more tournaments together,” Puetz said. “It has been a really good start. We won a Challenger at the beginning of the year, made the semi-finals in Marbella and now won here.

“We just want to keep improving… This is a really great week and it is a very [good] tournament. We have beaten four very good teams… I am definitely very happy and I am sure Hugo feels the same.”

Nys and Puetz, who won the Biella 2 title on the ATP Challenger Tour in February, were both chasing their first ATP Tour trophies since 2019. Nys won his maiden tour-level crown two years ago at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos (w/Arneodo). Puetz, a three-time ATP Tour titlist, captured his first trophy since the 2019 BMW Open in Munich (w/Nielsen).

“We played four big teams and this one in the final was a big team as well,” Nys said. “They were serving pretty well… We managed to stay calm during the whole match, even though we [were] a set and a break up and lost the second set. In bad moments, we were very strong. We had a good attitude and that is what made the difference in the end.”

Bambridge and Inglot did not drop a set en route to their first ATP Tour final as a team. The Brits have compiled an 8-7 team record since making their debut as a pair at the Delray Beach Open by in January.

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Koolhof/Krawietz Capture Munich Doubles Crown

  • Posted: May 02, 2021

Wesley Koolhof and Kevin Krawietz captured their first ATP Tour team title on Sunday at the BMW Open in Munich.

The top-seeded Dutch-German team got off to a strong start in the Match Tie-break en route to a 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 victory over third-seeded Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in 87 minutes. The final was interrupted for 35 minutes by rain at 1-1 in the second set.

Koolhof, 32, captured the seventh ATP Tour title of his career, while 29-year-old Krawietz, who normally partners fellow German Andreas Mies, earned his fifth doubles crown.

Gille and Vliegen, who lost one set en route to the ATP 250 tournament final, picked up the Singapore Tennis Open trophy (d. Ebden/Smith) in February. They are now 5-2 in ATP Tour team finals.

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