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Garin Perfect In The Clutch To Beat Verdasco In Madrid

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

Cristian Garin was perfect in the clutch moments on Monday evening to dismiss home favourite Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Chilean No. 1 saved all eight break points he faced and converted the three opportunities he earned to advance after one hour and 27 minutes, setting a second-round clash against German Dominik Koepfer, who ousted American Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.

The difference in Madrid experience could not have been greater inside Manolo Santana Stadium, as Garin was making his tournament debut and Verdasco was competing in the Spanish capital for the 18th consecutive edition (he also played in qualifying in 2002). But when it mattered most, Garin was the more comfortable player. 

The 16th seed played aggressively when he needed to. But more importantly, he gave very few free points away, forcing Verdasco to beat him. The Spaniard could not do so, as he made 32 unforced errors, more than doubling Garin’s count (15).


One seed who was unable to move on was 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Qualifier Federico Delbonis rallied from a set and two breaks down to defeat the Spaniard 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the last match of the day. The Argentine will next challenge Estoril champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas or American Taylor Fritz.

In other action, Marcos Giron won a marathon three-setter against Pablo Andujar, clawing past the Spaniard 6-7(8), 7-6(4), 7-5 after three hours and 26 minutes. The American had already played a match that lasted longer than three hours in the first round of qualifying against Thiago Monteiro.

Giron will have to recover quickly when he plays third seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday evening. The 27-year-old owns one Top 10 victory, which he claimed against Matteo Berrettini at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.

Did You Know?
Garin is in second seed Daniil Medvedev’s section of the draw. If both men reach the third round, they will meet for the second time in their ATP Head2Head series. The Russian triumphed in straight sets two years ago in Montreal.

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Preview: ‘Recharged’ Thiem Leads Seeds, Rublev Ready For Debut

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

The top seeds are set to hit the courts as first-round action wraps up at La Caja Magica on a jam-packed Tuesday at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Third seed Dominic Thiem leads the way, set to start against American qualifier Marcos Giron under the lights inside Manolo Santana Stadium. Into the second round with a bye, the two-time Madrid finalist is contesting his first tournament since the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after taking a break to recharge.

“It had something to do with [winning] the US Open title,” Thiem said in a pre-tournament interview. “Chasing a goal for such a long time and then finally achieving it, it took a lot out of my body and my head. With all the euphoria and everything, I was playing well the rest of last year. And then in Australia, it somehow got to me a little bit. I decided to take a little bit of time off to recover and make a small reset.

“I feel recharged. I was away from tennis for a while and away from everything, so I definitely recharged and I’m ready again for everything.”

Thiem, who owns a 5-4 record on the season, is looking for his 18th tour-level title in Madrid, and his second ATP Masters 1000 crown.

Sixth seed Andrey Rublev will start his debut Madrid campaign against American Tommy Paul in the second round at Arantxa Sanchez Stadium. The World No. 7 is hoping that his snakebitten years are behind him, after a series of unfortunate events – ranging from a wrist injury and a spinal fracture to a global pandemic – kept him out of the tournament for the past three years.


“When my ranking became [high enough] and I was around 30 in the world, I was injured twice, two seasons in a row, during the summer which is the clay-court season. And then last year was pandemic,” Rublev said with a wry smile. “So unlucky three seasons already, and now finally I’m here. I’m feeling like hopefully it’s going to be my first year when I play the whole season, non-stop, all the tournaments.”

Rublev couldn’t be in a better position for his first Madrid venture, after recently reaching his first Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. Tsitsipas). He is tied for the most wins on the ATP Tour with 26, and will hope to add one more and extend his ATP Head2Head lead against Paul to 3-0.

Also in action, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini booked an all-Italian second-round battle. It will be their second career meeting, with Fogini claiming a straight-sets victory in their 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia match.

#NextGenATP stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner will also be among those searching for a spot into the second round on Tuesday. Coached by the inimitable Toni Nadal, Auger-Aliassime will face Norway’s Casper Ruud in his opening match, while Miami finalist Sinner will meet Argentina’s Guido Pella for the first time. Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori also feature, facing off for the fifth time in the first match of the day.


First Round – K. Khachanov (RUS) vs K. Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 1:00 PM
WTA MATCH – [13] E. Mertens (BEL) vs [3] S. Halep (ROU)

Not Before 3:00 pm
First Round – [9] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [Q] M. Cecchinato (ITA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
Second Round – [3] D. Thiem (AUT) vs [Q] M. Giron (USA)

First Round – [15] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
Second Round – T. Paul (USA) vs [6] A. Rublev (RUS)

Not Before 3:00 PM
WTA MATCH – [5] A. Sabalenka (BLR) vs J. Pegula (USA)
Second Round – [8] M. Berrettini (ITA) vs F. Fognini (ITA)
WTA MATCH – [ND] M. Keys (USA) / J. Pegula (USA) vs [2] B. Krejcikova (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE)

STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
First Round – G. Pella (ARG) vs [14] J. Sinner (ITA)
First Round – C. Norrie (GBR) vs F. Krajinovic (SRB)
Second Round – A. Bublik (KAZ) vs [11] D. Shapovalov (CAN)

Not Before 5:00 PM
WTA MATCH – A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [11] J. Brady (USA)
Second Round – A. de Minaur (AUS) vs L. Harris (RSA)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
[Q] P. Herbert (FRA) vs A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
T. Fritz (USA) vs A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
N. Basilashvili (GEO) vs B. Paire (FRA)
K. Krawietz (GER) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

COURT 5 start 11:00 am
[12] H. Hurkacz (POL) vs J. Millman (AUS)
[Q] A. Popyrin (AUS) vs J. Struff (GER)
T. Puetz (GER) / A. Zverev (GER) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / H. Hurkacz (POL)
[7] W. Koolhof (NED) / L. Kubot (POL) vs [WC] P. Tsitsipas (GRE) / S. Tsitsipas (GRE)

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
WTA MATCH – E. Perez (AUS) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs [5] A. Guarachi (CHI) / D. Krawczyk (USA)

Not Before 12:30 PM
WTA MATCH – [OSE] B. Bencic (SUI) / J. Teichmann (SUI) vs N. Hibino (JPN) / R. Voracova (CZE)
WTA MATCH – [DA PR] E. Vesnina (RUS) / V. Zvonareva (RUS) vs [OSE] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / I. Swiatek (POL)
WTA MATCH – [3] G. Dabrowski (CAN) / D. Schuurs (NED) vs V. Kudermetova (RUS) / A. Potapova (RUS)
After Suitable Rest – S. Gille (BEL) / J. Vliegen (BEL) vs M. Fucsovics (HUN) / C. Ruud (NOR)

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Nadal, Thiem, Tsitsipas & More Stars Training Hard In Madrid

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

With the Mutua Madrid Open underway, the world’s best players, including Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas, are working hard in practice to prepare themselves for a big run at the Caja Magica.

Nadal is chasing a sixth title at the Spanish ATP Masters 1000 tournament, where he has lifted the trophy in 2005, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017. The top seed has been training hard with the likes of World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini and countryman Jaume Munar.

Other stars who have practised together this week include Thiem and Andrey Rublev as well as Tsitsipas and Sebastian Korda.

The stars have not just been working hard on the court, though. They have also been preparing their bodies, both to be ready for training and for the rigours of tough clay-court matches.

Players have shown a variety of excercises, from typical work with bands to football warmups.

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Alcaraz On ‘Dream’ Nadal Clash: ‘It’s The Best Birthday Present’

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz made sure that his birthday bash will be one for the ages.

The teenager will turn 18 on Wednesday, and he will celebrate with a second-round meeting against Spanish legend and top seed Rafael Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open.

“It’s the best present for my birthday,” Alcaraz told Tennis Channel, cracking a laugh. “It’s a dream come true. To play against Rafa here in Madrid in front of the Spanish crowd, I will never forget this moment and I will learn from him.”

“I don’t know how to describe this feeling now,” he added. “It’s a dream come true.”

In order to book the blockbuster clash against his childhood idol, Alcaraz had to go through Adrian Mannarino, a player sitting 86 spots higher in the FedEx ATP Rankings at No. 34. But Alcaraz got the job done in convincing style, blasting 19 forehand winners en route to a 6-4, 6-0 victory.

“They always say the 18th birthday is special, but it will be even more special to turn 18 playing against one of the best tennis players of all time, and the best for me,” Alcaraz said in his post-match press conference. “Rafa is one of my childhood idols. It’s going to be very special.”

With his first ATP Masters 1000 victory, Alcaraz checked off a new milestone in a season full of firsts. He began 2021 by qualifying for his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, where he claimed a victory in his main draw debut after impressing at the end of last season with back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles.

Alcaraz’s rapid rise has drawn comparisons to Nadal’s own ATP breakthrough as a teenager. In fact, the 17-year-old just became the youngest match winner in tournament history in Madrid – passing 18-year-old Nadal’s record in 2004.

“There will be many comparisons. I’m sure they’ll talk about me and Rafa. They will compare the new generation with the legend,” Alcaraz said. “But I’ll try to give my best. I have to play my game, try to keep improving and enjoy it. I’ll stick with my feelings on court. I’ll be nervous, but I’ll try to play as relaxed as possible and give my absolute best.”


Alcaraz will aim to keep his nerves in check as he takes on Nadal inside Manolo Santana Stadium on Wednesday. The top seed will be going for his sixth Mutua Madrid Open title and arrived in the Spanish capital after winning his 87th tour-level title in Barcelona.

“I’m working to manage the nerves. In the difficult moments I try to be aggressive and play my style,” Alcaraz said. “I’m improving step by step and these kinds of matches are helping me a lot to grow. I’ll use each difficult moment that arises in matches to keep improving.”

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Alcaraz Sets Nadal Clash In Madrid

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

Carlos Alcaraz booked a dream Mutua Madrid Open second-round encounter against five-time champion Rafael Nadal on Monday.

The #NextGenATP Spaniard, who will celebrate his 18th birthday on Wednesday, ripped 19 forehand winners en route to a 6-4, 6-0 win against Adrian Mannarino. This is Alcaraz’s maiden ATP Masters 1000 victory in just his second event at the level. The 17-year-old made his Masters 1000 debut at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March (l. to Ruusuvuori).

The World No. 120 will meet Nadal for the first time in the second round. However, the pair has already shared some court time together this year. Alcaraz and Nadal met for a practice session ahead of this year’s Australian Open.

Backed by a reduced home crowd inside Manolo Santana Stadium, Alcaraz rushed Mannarino in the early stages with depth on his groundstrokes and fired multiple forehand winners to race into a 2-0 lead. The Murcia native maintained his lead to serve for the first set at 5-4 and he converted his first set point with a crosscourt backhand winner.

Alcaraz breezed through the second set to book his encounter against Nadal. The Spaniard continued to dictate rallies with aggressive forehands and showed great touch at the net to improve to 7-7 this season.

Fabio Fognini booked a second-round clash against countryman Matteo Berrettini on Monday. The 33-year-old overcame Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3 in two hours and 15 minutes.

Fognini and Berrettini, who helped Italy reach the ATP Cup final in February (l. to Russia), will meet for the second time in their ATP Head2Head series. Fognini won the pair’s maiden encounter in straight sets at the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

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Melo/Rojer Eliminate Murray/Soares In Madrid

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer eliminated eighth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3, 6-4 on Monday in their opening match at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The unseeded pair, which entered the tournament with a 1-8 team record, saved all seven break points it faced to eliminate the Great Ocean Road Open champions in 70 minutes. Melo and Rojer are both aiming to add to their Madrid trophy collections, having both lifted the trophy with previous partners.

Melo did not drop a set en route to the Madrid trophy in 2017 alongside Lukasz Kubot. Rojer is a two-time champion in Madrid, following title runs with Horia Tecau in 2016 and 2019.

Melo and Rojer will meet Millennium Estoril Open champion Tim Puetz and 2018 singles titlist Alexander Zverev or last year’s Rolex Paris Masters winners Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

Later in the day, John Peers and Michael Venus will meet Max Purcell and Luke Saville. Spanish wild cards Marc Lopez and Jaume Munar will also be in action against Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov.

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Harris Wins On Madrid Debut, Overcomes Dimitrov In Tie-break Decider

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

Lloyd Harris maintained his perfect record in 2021 against Top 20 opponents (4-0) on Monday, when he began his Mutua Madrid Open debut with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory over No. 13 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

The South African failed to convert three match points on Dimitrov’s serve at 5-2 in the deciding set, and was subsequently broken, but won four straight points from 2/3 down in the tie-break.


“It was a big up and down match, [I led by] a set and a break, then [I was] a break up in the third too,” said Harris. “I got a little bit nervous at the end, but I’m happy to close it out. I started to dictate again at the end.”

The 24-year-old Harris, who hit 34 winners past 2015 quarter-finalist Dimitrov, will next challenge Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the second round. “He is a very tough opponent and he doesn’t give you much,” said Harris, who is now 10-6 on the season. “We had an epic match in the past.”

Six weeks ago, Harris qualified for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and beat the likes of Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov en route to the final (l. to Karatsev).


Elsewhere, 2015 and 2018 Madrid quarter-finalist John Isner worked his way past Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-6(6) in 80 minutes. The American saved four break points at 4-4 in the second set and a set point at 5/6 in the tie-break.

Isner, who hit 28 aces past Kecmanovic, will next face ninth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or qualifier Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

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Karatsev Earns Debut Win In Madrid

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

Aslan Karatsev opened his debut Mutua Madrid Open campaign on Monday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Ugo Humbert.

In his first appearance since his run to the Serbia Open final in Belgrade (l. to Berrettini), the Russian struck 24 winners to reach the second round after one hour and 31 minutes. Karatsev, who entered 2021 with a 3-10 tour-level record, improved to 18-5 this season with his first win in the Spanish capital.

2021 ATP Tour Wins Leaderboard

Rank Player Win-Loss Record
T1 Stefanos Tsitsipas 26
Andrey Rublev 26
T3 Aslan Karatsev 18
Cameron Norrie 18
Jannik Sinner 18

A single break in each set proved the difference for Karatsev. The Dubai champion neutralised Humbert’s serve with consistent depth on his backhand returns and he turned points in his favour with forehand aggression. Karatsev converted his first match point with an ace out wide to move through to the second round.

Karatsev will meet seventh seed Diego Schwartzman for a place in the third round. The 27-year-old overcame Schwartzman in straight sets en route to the Australian Open semi-finals in February.

Daniel Evans earned his third win of the season against Jeremy Chardy on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium. The Monte-Carlo semi-finalist, who held three match points in the second set, withstood 35 forehand winners from his opponent to record a 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-2 win after two hours and 46 minutes.

The British No. 1 will face Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz or John Millman in the second round. Evans is tied at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head rivalry against Hurkacz and has not met Millman at tour-level.

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Ramos-Vinolas Returns To Top 40, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: May 03, 2021

No. 37 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, +9
The Spaniard captured his third ATP Tour title on Sunday with a hard-fought 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over Briton Cameron Norrie in the Millennium Estoril Open final. The 33-year-old rises nine places to No. 37 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, marking a return to the Top 40 for the first time since the week of 2 March 2020 (No. 40). Ramos-Vinolas attained a career-high of No. 17 on 8 May 2017.

No. 93 Ilya Ivashka, +14
The Belarusian qualified for the BMW Open in Munich and beat World No. 6 Alexander Zverev en route to the semi-finals (l. to Struff). Ivashka rises 14 spots to No. 93 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. It is the first time the 27-year-old has been in the Top 100 since the week of 11 March 2019 (No. 96).

View Latest FedEx ATP Rankings

Other Notable Top 100 Movers

No. 22 Casper Ruud, +2 (Career High)
No. 31 Nikoloz Basilashvili, +4
No. 40 Jan-Lennard Struff, +4
No. 67 Corentin Moutet, +6 (Career High)
No. 84 Ricardas Berankis, +5
No. 89 Norbert Gombos, +6

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