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Zverev Eager For Quarter-final Clash With Nadal In Madrid

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Alexander Zverev is cautiously optimistic about his chances of beating Rafael Nadal on clay. With a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Daniel Evens on Thursday, the German set up a blockbuster quarter-final against Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Nadal leads their ATP Head2Head Series 5-2, but Zverev has won their past two matches (on indoor hard courts at the Rolex Paris Masters in 2020 and the Nitto ATP Finals in 2021).

“I’ve beaten him the last few times that we’ve played but obviously beating him on a clay court is very different,” Zverev told “I’ve had some tough battles. I think also when you beat him a few times in a row it doesn’t matter where it is he’s going to be more motivated to beat you the next few times.”

Nadal and Zverev’s last clay-court meeting was the 2018 Rome final, which Nadal won in three sets. They have never faced off in Madrid, where Nadal has the home-court advantage but the high altitude favours Zverev’s big serve and aggressive game style.

“There’s a higher bounce, and definitely the serve goes through the court quicker,” Zverev said. “Also the ball flies through the air much faster so you can play more aggressively here than you can play on other clay courts. But still, I think Rafa is the favourite anywhere he goes, that’s not going to change.”

The German, who won the title in Madrid in 2018, says Nadal’s greatest strength on clay may be his movement.  

“He moves better on a clay court than he does on a hard court so it’s not easy to hit winners against him,” Zverev said. “But I have to manage it tomorrow and I have to definitely [hit winners].”

Zverev will be ready to bring his best against the best and he has certainly risen to the occasion before. While the World No. 6 has losing records against Nadal and Novak Djokovic, he has scored two wins against each of them, and he boasts a 4-3 winning record against Roger Federer.

“I feel like when you play against [the Big 3] you play in the later stages of a tournament, you play at the biggest moments,” the 23-year-old Zverev said. “And I feel like you’re playing at your best as well so you’ve got to play your best to have a chance. But I’ve also gotten killed by all of them a few times in my life so I hope tomorrow is not going to be a case like that.”

Zverev enters the highly anticipated showdown on the heels of a composed win over an on-fire Evans. Zverev had to be patient while the Brit switched up his tactics in the second set.

“He’s a great player with a lot of things he can change,” Zverev said of Evans. “You saw it during the match when he all of a sudden starting serving-and-volleying. He has a great variety in his game which can cause a lot of problems to a lot of top guys.”

Evans entered the week at a career-high FedEx ATP Tour Ranking of No. 26 after reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo, complete with an upset of World No. 1 Djokovic.

On Friday, Zverev will be seeking his first clay-court semi-final appearance at the Masters 1000 level since losing to Nadal in the Rome final in 2018. 

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Ruud Stuns Tsitsipas In Madrid

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Casper Ruud earned one of the biggest wins of his career on Thursday, upsetting red-hot Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Norwegian had previously been winless against top five opponents in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But the World No. 22 showed no fear against the fourth seed, earning the lone break of serve in the second set to triumph after one hour and 34 minutes.

“He is one of the best players this year on the Tour, one of the ones who has won the most matches. He’s won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well,” Ruud said of Tsitsipas. “But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don’t usually [get] on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage.

“I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn’t always do. I was just trying to take care of the chances that I got.”


Ruud is into the quarter-finals of his third consecutive clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event. The 22-year-old made the semi-finals of last year’s International BNL d’Italia and this season’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

“It’s given me more and more confidence the more matches I’ve won,” Ruud said. “I’m feeling good, especially here in Europe on the clay.”

Tsitsipas is the leader in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, having lifted his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Monte-Carlo and reaching the final in Barcelona, where he held championship point against Rafael Nadal in the final before losing. But he was unable to overwhelm Ruud, who did not face a break point in his victory.

The Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus will have a chance to make the last four in the Caja Magica when he plays Alexander Bublik, who defeated 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 6-3 earlier in the day. The Norwegian won his only previous ATP Head2Head clash against Bublik in three sets in St. Petersburg two years ago.

“He’s definitely playing very well here in Madrid. He also won three matches. He’s serving unbelievable,” Ruud said. “He can do anything with the ball. He can play drop shots and winners, the most incredible shots. Underarm serve. I have to be prepared for everything tomorrow.”

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Rafael Nadal Named 2021 Laureus Sportsman Of The Year

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Rafael Nadal reached the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday, but that was not his only victory of the day. Later in the evening the Spaniard was announced as the 2021 Laureus Sportsman of the Year.

Nadal also claimed the prestigious award in 2011 and was a nominee in 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2020. The other nominees this year were Joshua Cheptegei, Armand Duplantis, Lewis Hamilton, LeBron James and Robert Lewandowski.

“I want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus Academy. I have had some amazing competitors,” Nadal said. “The rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me, but this was the year for me and I can’t be happier.

“Winning the French Open and equalling the 20th Grand Slam of Roger Federer has been an unforgettable moment. It means a lot to equal my great rival, but at the same time, my great friend. It’s something very special after all the history we have had together on and off court.

“The pandemic that we are facing is something unprecedented and I want to send a message of support to all the families that have suffered or lost somebody.”

The Spaniard received a message of congratulations from WTA legend Martina Navratilova.

“What can I say to you that hasn’t been told to you by countless others? But, for me, watching you play, watching you compete for every point as if it is match point, your total and utter commitment to the sport, your professionalism is off the charts,” Navratilova said. “People will be writing books about you so that they can teach others to do what you have done so well for, now almost 20 years. So, I salute you, I respect you, I love watching you play and I hope you never quit so you can win, maybe 30 Roland Garros titles. Anyway, congratulations.”

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Dodig/Polasek Through To Madrid Quarter-finals

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek opened their Mutua Madrid Open title bid on Thursday with 6-4, 6-7(2), 10-7 victory against Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau.

The fourth seeds won 70 per cent of their first-serve points (23/33) and did not face a break point throughout the one-hour, 52-minute match. Dodig and Polasek will face Munich finalists Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen for a place in the semi-finals.


Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic also needed a Match Tie-break to defeat Max Purcell and Luke Saville 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 and extend their unbeaten record at ATP Masters 1000 events this year to 10-0. The reigning Miami and Monte-Carlo champions, who are chasing their sixth team title of the year, own a 30-3 record in 2021.

Mektic and Pavic will next face seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot in the quarter-finals. This will be the first time Koolhof and Mektic have shared the court since they ended their partnership with a title run at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut also advanced on Thursday with a 7-6(5), 7-6(5) win against Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan. The Frenchmen will next face third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

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Nadal Seeks Double Digits In Rome; All You Need to Know

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Rafael Nadal will attempt to win 10 or more titles at a single tour-level event for the fourth time in his career at next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

The nine-time champion, who has already reached double digits at Roland Garros (13), the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (12) and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (11), will return to Rome with his sights set on a 10th title run at the Foro Italico. Nadal owns a record 63 victories at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament and will be seeking his first trophy in Rome since 2019, when he defeated Novak Djokovic in a three-set championship match.

Djokovic headlines this year’s draw as not only the World No. 1, but also the defending champion. The Serbian captured his fifth Rome title and a record 36th Masters 1000 crown last year with a straight-sets final victory against Diego Schwartzman.

Djokovic and Nadal lead a packed field in the Italian capital, which also includes World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, two-time Roland Garros runner-up Dominic Thiem and reigning Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Here’s all you need to know about the Rome tennis tournament: when is the draw, what is the schedule, where to watch, who has won and more.

Established: 1968

Tournament Dates: 9-16 May 2021

Tournament Director: Sergio Palmieri

Draw Ceremony: Saturday 8 May. 11.30am CEST

Are You In? Subscribe To Get Tournament Updates In Your Inbox

* Qualifying: 8-9 May, 10:00am
* Main draw: Sunday 9 May – Sunday 16 May 
* Start times: Sunday – Sunday 11:00am and 7:30pm
* Doubles final: Sunday, 16 May, 3pm, CEST
* Singles final: Sunday 16 May

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV
TV Schedule

Venue: Foro Italico
Surface: Clay 

Prize Money: €2,082,960 (Total Financial Commitment: €2,563,710)

View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown

Honour Roll
Most Titles, Singles: Rafael Nadal (9)
Oldest Champion: Novak Djokovic, 33, in 2020
Youngest Champion: Bjorn Borg, 17, in 1974
Highest-Ranked Champion: No. 1 Ivan Lendl in 1986, 1988; No. 1 Jim Courier in 1992; No. 1 Pete Sampras in 1994; No. 1 Rafael Nadal in 2009; No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 2015, 2020
Lowest-Ranked Champion: No. 47 Felix Mantilla in 2003
Most Match Wins: Rafael Nadal (63)

2020 Finals
Singles: [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) d [8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 7-5, 6-3 Read & Watch
Doubles: [4] Marcel Granollers (ESP) / Horacio Zeballos (ARG) d Jeremy Chardy (FRA) / Fabrice Martin (FRA) 6-4, 5-7, 10-8 Read More 

Hashtag: #IBI21

Facebook: @InternazionaliBNLdItalia 
Twitter: @InteBNLdItalia
Instagram: @InternazionaliBNLdItalia

Did You Know?
The Foro Italico is also home to the Stadio Olimpico, which hosted the athletics events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. The stadium is the current home of Serie A football teams A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio.

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Isner Upsets Rublev In Madrid

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

John Isner knocked out sixth seed Andrey Rublev 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-6(4) at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday. The World No. 39 moves into his second quarter-final appearance of the season and faces Dominic Thiem for a place in the semi-finals.

“I’m very happy,” Isner said. “I wasn’t the better player out there today; I did win the match. My serve kept me in it. There’s a reason he’s won so many matches this year.”

Until Madrid, Rublev had advanced to the quarter-finals or better in all seven of his tour-level appearances and entered his second meeting with Isner with a 27-6 match record in 2021. Isner had won their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting in Miami six years ago.


The upset marks Isner’s first Top 10 win since beating Alexander Zverev at the Laver Cup in 2019, and his first Top 10 win at an ATP Masters 1000 event since winning the Miami crown in 2018.

“It’s perfect serving conditions out here, especially on this court,” the 36-year-old said. “It’s got a nice sound, kind of like an indoor court. I can’t ask for anything better. “

Isner hit 28 aces inside Arantxa Sanchez Stadium, bringing his total for the week across three matches to 88. It’s the 61st time the American has won a deciding tie-break (61-49), and it’s his second in a row after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) on Wednesday.

Against Rublev, Isner racked up 21 winners in the first set to Rublev’s 11 as neither player saw a break point opportunity. Isner took early control of the tie-break for 4/0 and closed it out 7/4.

Rublev would pick up his level in the second set to extend the rallies and he capitalised on his first break point for 2-1 as well as another break point at 5-3. Rublev converted on 100 per cent of his chances in the set while Isner managed just five winners. When the third set ultimately went to a deciding tie-break, Isner jumped on the first lead for 5/3 and it would be enough to seal the victory.

Thiem leads the ATP Head2Head Series 2-1 against Isner but they haven’t faced off since 2017. Thiem topped Alex de Minaur earlier on Thursday 7-6(7), 6-4.

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Nadal On Ronaldo: 'He Was One Of My Favourite Football Players'

  • Posted: May 06, 2021

Rafael Nadal has big fans around the world. But one attendee inside Manolo Santana Stadium on Thursday at the Mutua Madrid Open during his win against Alexei Popyrin was more familiar than others for the Spaniard: football legend Ronaldo.

“I always admire the top athletes,” Nadal said. “I am a big fan of sport. When I was a kid, Ronaldo was playing in Barcelona with my uncle. So yeah, [he was] one of my favourite football players of all time, one of the best players that I saw play.”

One of Nadal’s uncles, Toni Nadal, is well-known in the tennis world for his work as Rafa’s coach. “Uncle Toni” is now mentoring Felix Auger-Aliassime. But another of the five-time Madrid champion’s uncles, Miguel Angel Nadal, played football with Ronaldo for FC Barcelona from 1996-97. Another member of that team, Luis Figo, was also in attendance at the Caja Magica on Thursday.

Nadal is a big fan of Real Madrid, which was knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday by Chelsea.

“I saw the match. Like a spectator, I have to say I’m very proud of my team. Of course, I don’t like to lose,” Nadal said. “With all the difficulties that we had during the whole season with, I don’t know, 60 injuries, it’s difficult to be where we were until yesterday, fighting for the two most important competitions we [are playing in]: semi-finals in the Champions League, and still fighting for La Liga.

“For me 100 per cent Zidane is one of my favourite [managers], without a doubt. Great person, great values for Real Madrid. I think the season is doing great after all the bad luck with injuries that we had. [It is] difficult to ask for more. If I will be the one to decide, of course I don’t have any doubt that Zidane is the right guy to prepare probably the next team.”


Since he was a kid, Nadal has always found interests outside of tennis. While the Spaniard has become known for his legendary intensity and fight on the court, he has enjoyed other things, too, including football.

“I was not the kind of guy or person that I was just focussed on tennis, tennis, tennis every single day. I was practising very hard, yes. I was focussed when I was on court, 100 per cent. But outside of the court I enjoyed all my life,” Nadal said. “I was able to do the things that my friends did, just I was not able to go party every Friday and Saturday. I was [okay going to a] party one Saturday every few weeks, but I had a lot of parties in my life, too. I went to the beach. I played football. I went to the cinema a lot of times. I spent time having dinners with the family, with everyone.

“I don’t think I missed anything, honestly. The only thing that I can say, if they did 100 or 1,000 times, I did probably 100, that’s all.”

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