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Berrettini Bests Garin To Reach Madrid Semi-finals

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Eighth seed Matteo Berrettini rallied from a set down against Cristian Garin on Friday to grab the last semi-final berth at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Coming into the Spanish capital, Berrettini was regaining his rhythm after needing a lengthy break to recover from an abdominal injury. The Italian was quickly back to his winning ways, lifting his fourth ATP Tour trophy at the Serbia Open in Belgrade.

The World No. 10 is now on a seven-match win streak after taking down the 16th seeded Garin 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 in his Manolo Santana Stadium debut, and improved to 15-3 on the season.

“I’m really proud that I came from not an easy place mentally after my injury,” Berrettini said in his post-match press conference. “I really worked hard. There were days where I wasn’t really feeling into practice because I felt like kind of there was a lot of work to be done. Sometimes I was feeling kind of unlucky that I got injured again. It was just tough.

“But then I came back stronger in Belgrade. For here, I proved to myself that I’m strong inside.”

Berrettini will next face Norway’s Casper Ruud in the semi-finals. Before this week, neither player had played a main draw match in Madrid; now, they are fighting for a spot into their maiden ATP Masters 1000 final on Sunday.

“I think he’s a great, great player, especially on clay,” Berrettini said. “He’s been playing really good, really solid so far this season. We always had, like, tough matches.

“Last year in Rome was really tricky match. Still if I think about it, it hurts. I’m really looking forward to get my revenge, not in a bad way, but just in a way that’s in a sports way.”

Garin came out firing against Berrettini, high on confidence after equaling the biggest win of his career against World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev in the previous round (also No. 3 Zverev, 2019 Munich). His speed around the court kept Berrettini on the back foot, and Garin powered his way to early break leads in the first two sets.


The Italian looked to be in danger after going down a set and 3-1 to Garin, but the eighth seed raised his level emphatically in the second set to level at 3-3. Garin couldn’t come up with answers for his opponent’s powerful surge as Berrettini reeled off the last 11 games in a row.

Berrettini fired his 14th ace to seal the victory after two hours and six minutes, booking a place into his second Masters 1000 semi-final and the first since Shanghai in 2019. Berrettini recorded 33 winners to Garin’s 18, and kept his unforced error count to a tidy 21 (30 for Garin).

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Nadal Makes 95-Year-Old Manuela’s Dream Come True

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Early this morning, Rafael Nadal received a very special message. Before playing in the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open, the Spaniard read some heartfelt words on social media. Among his 15 million followers on Twitter, somebody’s message stood out over the rest.

“Today, my grandmother, at 95 years of age, will fulfil her dream of seeing you live,” wrote Carlos Carrizosa, the grandson of the protagonist of this wonderful story. “She is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and she told me that before she forgets what tennis and you mean to her, she wanted to see you live. I hope that she enjoys this day as much as I’m enjoying it.”

Carrizosa’s grandmother, Manuela Navarro Esteban, was hugely excited as they made their way to the Caja Mágica on Friday. There, they were able to see the winner of 87 ATP Tour titles and one of the legends of modern sport in the flesh in Madrid.

But Carlos and Manuela could not have imagined how much more they would enjoy their day, all thanks to the power of social media.

At 3pm, Manuela was in one of the seats in the Manolo Santana Stadium taking in the intense atmosphere. Just a few metres from the court, Manuela got to enjoy the power of the Mallorcan close up. Although Rafa ultimately did not reach the semi-finals, the support from one of his biggest fans was just as strong as it has been for his greatest victories.

Despite being unable to celebrate a victory for her favourite player, who was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by the German Alexander Zverev, Manuela was able to enjoy a special moment with the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

At the end of the match, having been knocked out of the ATP Masters 1000 event, the Spaniard was delighted to meet Manuela, who was patiently waiting at the exit to the locker rooms. Behind the scenes in the Caja Magica, minutes after competing in front of all the fans, Nadal dedicated some of his time to one of his biggest fans.

They shared a conversation in which they were able to exchange words of affection. Nadal met one of his most fervent supporters, contemplating what he represents to so many generations of fans. And Manuela, simply delighted to see him play live, then had the pleasure of meeting him face to face.

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Ruud Moves Into Madrid Semi-Finals Over Bublik

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Casper Ruud eased past Alexander Bublik 7-5, 6-1 to move into the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals on Friday.

“It’s a great feeling, it’s my third Masters 1000 semi-final, third in a row on clay,” Ruud said. “I’m just playing the tennis of my life for the moment and I’m enjoying it.”

In a tight first set Ruud broke Bublik at 6-5 by capatilising on his fourth set point. Ruud would then run away with the match in just 69 minutes. He’s into his third ATP Masters 1000 clay-court semi-final (Rome and Monte-Carlo).

“This is the third time now; I hope that’s the lucky charm,” Ruud said. “The previous two times I lost to [Novak] Djokovic, then I lost to [Andrey] Rublev. Whoever it will be tomorrow will be at least a lower-ranked player. But they’re both great players. I hope that I can try to take advantage of that.”

In addition to three consecutive clay-court Masters 1000s semi-finals on clay dating back to Rome last year, Ruud has now reached three semi-finals from his past three outings (Monte-Carlo, Munich and Madrid).

“I’ve just had an unbelievable motivation to play the European clay swing and when we didn’t get to play it last year, I was very sad,” Ruud said. “So I think I just have double motivation compared to last year.”


Ruud becomes the seventh unseeded ATP player to reach the semi-finals in Madrid and will be aiming to become the first to make a final when he takes on the winner of Matteo Berrettini and Cristian Garin on Saturday.

He improves to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head Series against Bublik. The Kazakh hit 23 winners to Ruud’s 19, but Ruud missed far less, giving up just four unforced errors to Bublik’s 21.

Bublik tried to mix things up by serving-and-volleying and Ruud responded by forcing net errors and consistently making passing shots. With Bublik taking big risks, Ruud was able to stay patient and make the most of his chances.

“I guess I’m just enjoying it here in Madrid, playing good tennis,” Ruud said. “Today was almost without any unforced errors. That’s probably the biggest confidence boost you can give yourself for a big match tomorrow.”

Ruud has yet to be broken and faced his first break point this week in the first set against Bublik.

“I tried to have the toss a little bit more in front, do a little bit more turning of my upper body on the serve, which are some small technical things. So far it’s been working out well,” Ruud said. “I only faced one break point through the whole tournament. That’s not normal from my standards.”

On Thursday, Ruud scored the biggest win of his career by upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas for his first Top 5 win. He started his campaign in Madrid with a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 22 and is guaranteed to crack the Top 20 next week.

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Nadal: 'This Is Very Difficult To Understand, Especially For Me'

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Top seed Rafael Nadal was left ruing his missed opportunities after bowing out of the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals to an on-song Alexander Zverev on Friday.

The World No. 2 led Zverev 4-2 in the first set, but the German broke straight back after a spate of uncharacteristic errors from Nadal. The Spaniard then had a break chance at 4-3, but flubbed a forehand to give his opponent a lifeline back into the set.

From there, Nadal said, the match completely turned. The 2018 champion Zverev rallied to win 6-4, 6-4 and book a place into the semi-finals.

“I’m leaving Madrid with an overall positive feeling, but at the same time with the ugly feeling of having played a match like this today against a great player,” Nadal admitted in his post-match press conference. “I think for most of the first set, I was playing better than him. And this is the negative part; while playing better than him in the first set, I still lost 6-4.

“This is very difficult to understand, especially for me.  When this happens to me, it’s usually in the opposite way – I find a way to win sets even though I’m not playing my best or as good as the opponent.”

Nadal fired only six winners across both sets, and more than doubled the unforced error count at 17. His normally deadly forehand only generated four of those winners, and 10 of the errors. By contrast, Zverev fired 28 winners – including 18 off the forehand – to dictate the outcome.

“I felt like I was playing better for much of the first set, but after a couple of errors – unjustifiable errors at the worst times – I found myself down a set,” Nadal said. “The outlook of the match changed there, both for me and for him. I knew then that a lot of suffering was waiting for me [in the second set], and for him, the knowledge that he just took a huge step forward during the match.”

The five-time Madrid champion was quick to give his opponent credit for putting him in uncomfortable situations throughout the match. Zverev claimed his third consecutive victory over Nadal, and the first on clay, to improve his ATP Head2Head record to 3-5.

More From Madrid:
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Nadal Makes 95-Year-Old Manuela’s Dream Come True

According to Nadal, part of what makes the World No. 6 such a tough opponent to face is his huge serve. Zverev’s average first serve speed was 25 kph faster than Nadal’s (217 kph to 192) on Friday and bounced much higher in Madrid’s high altitude.

“It’s not that I wasn’t able to find my ‘minimum level’, it’s that you’re playing against someone whose serve gets you into big trouble,” Nadal said. “Every serve goes above 220, so in conditions like these I have to return like six metres behind the baseline and even then I’m still hitting the returns at shoulder height.”

After a bad day at the office on his home turf, Nadal was eager to look ahead to the rest of the clay season as he prepares for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and Roland Garros. He is aiming to add a 10th title at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, and extend his record haul in Paris to 14 titles. Victory in Paris would also put Nadal at the top of the all-time Grand Slam winners list with 21 major crowns.

“Where the clay season stands is very simple: quarters, champion and quarters. And now comes Rome,” Nadal assessed. “That’s all there is. I’ve been able to reach quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo, win in Barcelona and reach quarter-finals here, and I feel like I’ve been moving forward.

“We’ll see what happens in Rome. For me, the objective before Roland-Garros is to go to Rome and win it. That’s the truth.”


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Puetz & Zverev Reach Madrid SFs

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Alexander Zverev had a winning day on Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open. After taking out Rafael Nadal in the singles quarter-finals, he took to the court with compatriot Tim Puetz to beat Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 for a spot in the doubles semi-finals.

On Saturday, Zverev will first take on Dominic Thiem and then he and Puetz will face third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos. Granollers and Zeballos took out the French tandem of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 7-6(3), 6-2.

Second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic advanced with a tight 6-3, 6-7(4), 10-7 win over seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot. Mektic and Pavic are seeking their sixth title of 2021, and third ATP Masters 1000 crown after winning Miami and Monte-Carlo.

The Croatian pair will play Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen after the Germans upset fourth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-3, 3-6, 10-5. Gille and Vliegen just reached the Munich final last week and won in Singapore earlier this season for their fifth ATP Tour crown together.

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Zverev Claims Third Straight Nadal Victory

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Alexander Zverev earned his third straight victory against Rafael Nadal on Friday to reach his second Mutua Madrid Open semi-final.

The German rallied from 2-4 down in the first set to clinch his first clay-court win against the five-time Madrid champion 6-4, 6-4. Zverev also won the pair’s two most recent indoor hard-court meetings at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals and last year’s Rolex Paris Masters in straight sets.

“[It is] definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in his post-match interview. “Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Zverev, who is yet to lose a set this week, is two wins away from his second Madrid title. The 24-year-old owns a 13-2 record at La Caja Magica, highlighted by his run to the 2018 trophy when he did not drop his serve throughout the tournament.

Nadal played with consistent depth to extract Zverev errors and gain the first break of the match at 3-2, but Zverev responded immediately to claim four straight games and the opening set. The German caught Nadal out at the net with back-to-back passing shots at 4-2 and, two games later, he used his cross-court forehand to drag Nadal out of position and gain the decisive break.

Zverev Forehand Placement

– Graphic courtesy of Hawk-Eye Innovations/ATP Media
– Take a deep dive into this match with Match Insights powered by Infosys NIA

Zverev continued to pile the pressure on the top seed’s serve in the second set. Nadal was able to escape danger at 1-1 with an inspired drop shot, but Zverev stepped inside the baseline and dictated with his forehand to convert his next chance at 2-2. The World No. 6 maintained his advantage on serve and converted his first match point when Nadal fired a crosscourt forehand into the net.

“I had the match under control at the beginning, playing well for six games, probably playing better than him,” Nadal said. “In the 4-2 [game], serving for 5-2, I [had] a disaster. Another bad game with my game [from] 30/0. Of course, playing against one of the best players of the world, under these circumstances, with this speed of the court, [it] is very difficult to still [feel] confident. I tried, [but it] is true that the serve was difficult to control today. Well done [to] him.”

In a repeat of the 2018 championship match, Zverev will face third seed Dominic Thiem for a place in the final. Thiem recovered from a set down to defeat three-time Madrid quarter-finalist John Isner 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Thiem owns an 8-2 lead in his ATP Head2Head rivalry against Zverev, which includes a 4-1 record in clay-court encounters. In the pair’s most recent meeting, Thiem recovered from two sets and a break down against Zverev to win his maiden Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open.


Can You Pass The Madrid Champions Challenge?


“I know that I can do it [against Dominic],” Zverev said. “Everyone remembers the US Open final that we played. I remember it certainly and it is still going to be in the back of my mind when we play tomorrow. I am looking forward to the match.”

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Thiem On Isner's Serve: ‘Like A Goalkeeper Facing A Penalty’

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Dominic Thiem has compared facing John Isner’s serve to a football goalkeeper in a penalty shootout after beating the American on Friday for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals.

Speaking after his 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win on Friday, Thiem admitted, “I think it’s comparable to a goalkeeper [facing] a penalty. If he places it well, if it has the right speed, there’s just no time to react.

“You either have to guess or hope that he’s missing the first serve. It’s just pure luck actually to return it. It’s like a 50/50 chance. That’s why it’s so, so tough.”

Isner, who has struck 12,582 aces over the course of his career according to Infosys ATP Stats, hit 107 aces in his fourth matches this week at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid.

“It’s not only the first serve, it’s the second as well, which has such a high bounce,” said Thiem. “You go close, return it, which is unbelievably tough, especially here on clay in altitude, or you go five, six metres back behind the baseline. He has a lot of time to come in the net. It’s just incredibly tough to be a returner against him.”

It was the third time that Isner had hit 100+ aces in a clay-court tournament.

Player Aces Tournament (Result)
Martin Verkerk (NED) 124 2003 Roland Garros (F)
John Isner (USA) 110 2014 Roland Garros (4R)
Michael Stich (GER) 108 1996 Roland Garros (F)
John Isner (USA) 107 2021 Mutua Madrid Open (QF)
John Isner (USA) 101 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia (SF)

Third seed Thiem, who has also beaten Marcos Giron and Alex de Minaur this week, is competing at his first tournament since losing to Lloyd Harris on 16 March at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I’m pleased with everything [in] my game,” said Thiem. “I’ve played three very different opponents. Everything is working quite well. [My] groundstrokes are working well. The serve was pretty good all the time. The return today, especially in some parts of the game, was very good.

“I guess that I’m on the right [path] definitely. But still many things to improve, getting 100 per cent back in the match rhythm, anticipation and everything… I am surprised to be in the semi-finals.”

Thiem will play top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the five-time former champion, or fifth seed and 2018 titlist Alexander Zverev of Germany on Saturday.

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Federer Enters Comic Book World With Globi

  • Posted: May 07, 2021

Roger Federer fans will be delighted to hear that the Swiss will never stop playing tennis, at least in cartoon form.

This week, Globi released its 92nd edition of the Globi series titled “Globi and Roger”. The iconic blue parrot, who can best be described as Switzerland’s Mickey Mouse, was created by Robert Lips in 1932 as a cartoon strip that later became a picture book. Globi has been most popular in Switzerland and Federer boasts his own comic collection from his childhood.


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A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer)

Globi’s latest adventure might be his biggest ever as he and Federer go to Wimbledon, play tennis together and visit a school in Africa. Globi is well-known for wearing his beret and wide plaid trousers on his many adventures, while the cartoonists stay true to Federer’s style by putting him in matching outfits complete with his signature bandana. Federer’s four children and wife Mirka even make a cameo appearance.

Federer was involved in more than permitting the use of his name and likeness as the 39-year-old offered up his life stories, took part in the conceptualisation of the book and penned the foreword.

The comic is available in German, English and French as well as an audio book CD.

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