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Who Said What? Madrid & Rome Edition

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

From goalkeeper and salad ingredient comparisons to a McDonald’s confession, ATP Tour players have shared memorable quotes these past two weeks from Madrid and Rome.

Can you remember who said what? Was it Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic or Gael Monfils who enjoyed a recent reunion with Andy Murray at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia? Who called it “one of the biggest wins of my career” to beat Rafael Nadal “in his house” at the Mutua Madrid Open? 

Take the quiz and prove how much you remember! (We won’t set a timer on this one, in case you want to do a little bit of research… 😉)

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Nadal: ‘It’s A Great Victory For Me’

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

Rafael Nadal was delighted with his performance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Friday, where he snapped his three-match losing streak against Alexander Zverev to reach his 12th semi-final in Rome.

Just one week after his quarter-final loss to the German at the Mutua Madrid Open, the 34-year-old was able to turn the tables on his Top 10 rival and consistently find his best tennis under pressure. Nadal found himself in trouble on multiple occasions against the in-form Madrid champion, but he was able to save nine of the 10 break points he faced with his attacking strategy from the baseline.

“I played much better than yesterday. I did a lot of things well [and I was] playing much more solid. I think I played one of [my] more solid matches on clay this year against a very tough opponent,” Nadal said.

“It’s a great victory for me. Of course it’s important because under pressure [and in] tough moments, sometimes I lost important points [in the] past couple of weeks. Today, yesterday [and] before yesterday too, I was able to manage [these situations] well. [I was able] to [absorb] the pressure, to put one more ball in.”

A tall task stands between Nadal and a place in his 12th Rome final. That task is 6’11” American Reilly Opelka. The World No. 47 is yet to drop a set this week and has struck 77 aces, compared to just four double faults, across his four wins in the Italian capital.

“[Reilly is] a very tough opponent to play. Super difficult. He has [a] huge, huge serve,” Nadal said. “I need to be very focused with my serve and try to give myself some chances on the return… He’s able to play aggressive from the baseline too, so I need to play well. [It is] going to be a tough one, of course, but [it is the] semi-finals of a Masters 1000, what can you expect?”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

Following the match, Nadal was reminded of one of his most memorable victories at the Foro Italico. Exactly 15 years ago, the Spaniard saved two championship points to defeat Roger Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) in the 2006 championship match.

“We [have had] some great battles here in Rome… I think we enjoyed [the 2006 final], both of us, even if that day was for me,” Nadal said. “We [have] played some great matches [against] each other, and this one [is] one of the longest that we [have] played.

“I think he played a good match. I was lucky in the fifth [set]. [They are] good memories. The best thing for me, without a doubt, is [that] 15 years later [I am] still here. [It is] something unexpected for a lot of people, and for me too.”

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Preview: Nadal & Opelka Beat The Rain, But Who Will Triumph In Rome?

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

After rain washed out half a day’s play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Semi-final Saturday will prove to be a hectic affair as six players are set to take the court at the Foro Italico and only two will emerge with spots in the championship match.

Second seed Rafael Nadal booked a first-time meeting against big-serving Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals, and the winner will have to wait to learn his final opponent. Top seed Novak Djokovic and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas were locked in their quarter-final clash when rain halted play, while seventh seed Andrey Rublev and Lorenzo Sonego were waiting in the wings. The quarter-final winners will have to do double duty and contest a semi-final match later in the day for a place in the final.

Unseeded Opelka has served up 77 aces on his way to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, and he got there without dropping a set. The American is by no means fond of the red dirt, and he tried to brush off his career’s best result as ‘probably just a fluke’ after his quarter-final victory over Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis.

“I am surprised [to reach my first Masters 1000 semi-final here]. Clay is not really my thing,” Opelka said in his post-match interview. “[It is] not much of an American thing. It is probably just a fluke, but I’ll run with it.”

Opelka’s performances this week are proving otherwise, despite arriving in Rome on a six-match losing streak. It was by no means a cakewalk, as he had to manoeuvre past experienced clay-courters and in-form players including Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti and Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev along the way.

The name Opelka is almost synonymous with booming serves, and he’ll have to hold for his life and back up his best shot to keep the pressure on Nadal on Saturday. But the key for the 6’11” American this week has actually been improving his overall movement around the court. 

“I hit a breaking point last week where I just felt slow on the court,” Opelka told ATPTour.com. “I’ve been in the gym a lot, I’ve been working on my speed and footwork, but this was something that was more technical about my movement. 

“I watched a lot of film of myself and I’m really happy with some habits that I broke pretty quickly. A lot of times my first step to a ball was a shuffle, a sidestep, and that’s just wrong. I’m going to be late and then I’ll be behind the whole time. Breaking that habit and making sure I’m turning my hips and running to the ball, just playing with some more urgency [and being] just more organised with my footwork has been huge.”

At this stage of the tournament, it’s usually Opelka’s opponent Nadal who can boast reaching an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final without dropping a set. That hasn’t been the case this week for the nine-time Rome champion, who has faced stern competition and had to save match points on his way to the last four.

[WATCH LIVE 1]

But champions adjust, and Nadal has had to dig deep to overcome #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-4 and tapped into Plan A, B, and to come back from a set and match points down against 13th seed Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3). That tactical thinking should come in handy against Opelka, a player who would likely tee off against the deep returns Nadal has been hitting all week but could struggle if the World No. 3 put his movement to the test by pulling him away from the baseline. 

Nadal’s most emphatic win of the week came against sixth seed Alexander Zverev, the player who defeated him en route to the Mutua Madrid Open title. Nadal needed two sets and two hours to claim his revenge with a confidence-boosting 6-3, 6-4 victory.

“It’s a great victory for me,” Nadal said. “Of course it’s important because [being] under pressure, under tough moments [was when] sometimes I lost important points last couple of weeks. Today, yesterday [against Shapovalov], before yesterday too, I was able to manage it well. To hold well the pressure, to put one more ball in. I think my movements have been improving.

“I’m super happy, because after the battle yesterday, to be able to be on court against a player like Sascha, he had [a] tough match too, but he’s more than 10 years younger than me… And I was able to be fit, to be ready, and [that is] something gives me confidence. So I’m very happy for that.”

Earlier in the day, last year’s champion Djokovic will try to come back from a set and a break down against Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters winner Tsitsipas, who was leading 6-4, 2-1 on Friday before rain washed out play. Djokovic leads Tsitsipas 4-2 in their ATP Head2Head, and he won their most recent meeting on clay 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 in a classic Roland Garros semi-final last year. 

Monte-Carlo finalist Rublev will take a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his clash with home favourite Sonego after defeating the Italian 6-4, 6-4 en route to the Vienna title last year. The Russian is tied with Race leader Stefanos Tsitsipas for most wins on Tour this year (29) and would meet the Greek in the semi-finals for a tie-breaker should both win.

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am

Quarterfinals – ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [5] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) 46 12

Not Before 12:00 noon
WTA MATCH

Not Before 1:00 pm
Semifinals – ATP – R. Opelka (USA) vs [2] R. Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA MATCH

Not Before 6:30 pm
Semifinals – ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) or [5] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs L. Sonego (ITA) or [7] A. Rublev (RUS)

GRAND STAND ARENA start 11:00 am
Quarterfinals – L. Sonego (ITA) vs [7] A. Rublev (RUS) 00
WTA MATCH
WTA MATCH
WTA MATCH

PIETRANGELI start 11:00 am
WTA MATCH
Quarterfinals – ATP – [4] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [5] R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR) 34
Semifinals – ATP – J. Peers (AUS) / M. Venus (NZL) vs [2] N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)

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Federer Lands In Tricky Quarter Of Geneva Draw

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

Roger Federer was placed into a tough section of the Gonet Geneva Open draw on Friday, ahead of his tournament debut at the ATP 250 next week.

In a loaded top quarter, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will face Australia’s Jordan Thompson or Pablo Andujar of Spain in the second round. If he can navigate his way through that match, Federer will likely face a difficult quarter-final encounter.

Federer shares the top quarter of the draw with Santiago champion Cristian Garin and former World No. 3 Marin Cilic. Fifth seed Garin will begin his title bid against Marton Fucsovics, while Cilic will meet #NextGenATP Swiss Dominic Stephan Stricker.

Garin has been one of the most consistent performers on clay in recent years. The Chilean has collected five ATP Tour titles on the surface since 2019, which includes his home triumph in Santiago this year. Federer has also faced tough competition against Cilic in the past. The Croat earned a straight-sets win against Federer en route to the 2014 US Open title and also pushed the Swiss to five sets in the 2016 Wimbledon quarter-finals and the 2018 Australian Open championship match.

Federer has also contested three tight ATP Head2Head encounters against Fucsovics in the past. This year’s Rotterdam runner-up pushed Federer to four sets at last year’s Australian Open and reached tie-breaks in his previous two matches against the 39-year-old.

Federer will be making just his second appearance of the year in the Swiss city and will be competing on clay for the first time since Roland Garros in 2019. The top seed returned to the ATP Tour for the first time in 13 months at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in March, where he fell to eventual champion Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals. Federer will be aiming to join Claudio Mezzadri (1987), Marc Rosset (1989) and Stan Wawrinka (2016-‘17) as the fourth Swiss player to lift the Geneva trophy.

Second seed Denis Shapovalov headlines the bottom half of the draw. The Canadian will hope to build on his strong third-round performance against Rafael Nadal in Rome this week, where he held two match points against the nine-time champion before falling a final-set tie-break.

Shapovalov will meet Stefano Travaglia or a qualifier in the second round. The 22-year-old shares the bottom half with fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov, 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini and eighth seed Adrian Mannarino.

In the second quarter, third seed Casper Ruud leads the way. The World No. 16 will face Tennys Sandgren or Salvatore Caruso in his tournament opener. Ruud, who is chasing his first ATP Tour title of the season, owns an 11-4 record on clay in 2021. The Norwegian has already reached three semi-finals on the surface this year in Monte-Carlo, Munich and Madrid.

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Mektic/Pavic Weather Day Of Upsets In Rome

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

On a Friday full of upsets and rainy weather, it was all sunshine for second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic as they cruised into the semi-finals at the Internazionali d’Italia without dropping a set.

Mektic and Pavic are seeking their third ATP Masters 1000 title of the year in Rome after claiming back-to-back wins at the Miami Open presented by Itau and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. They arrived in the Italian capital after reaching the championship match at the Mutua Madrid Open, and have lifted five trophies from seven final appearances since teaming up at the start of the season.

The Croatian duo was in full flight against Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Benoit Paire, who resumed their occasional partnership this year at Monte-Carlo. Mektic and Pavic converted four of the eight break points they created across 63 minutes to win 6-4, 6-2.

Mektic and Pavic held firm throughout a tough opening set, where they saved seven of the eight break points faced and edged ahead with a late break of their own for 5-4. In the second set, the second seeds reeled off five games in a row to seal the victory.

Mektic and Pavic will meet John Peers and Michael Venus in the Rome semi-finals after the Australian-New Zealander team toppled eighth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau 7-6(5), 7-5. Peers and Venus had to save a set point in the first set to take them into a tie-break, where they narrowly escaped with the lead, before breaking through at 6-5 in the second to claim victory.

[WATCH LIVE 1]

Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop also sent some seeds crashing out at the Foro Italico with a 2-6, 7-6(3), 10-5 victory over Wesley Koolhof  and Jean-Julien Rojer. Arevalo and Middelkoop were down a set and a break to the seventh seeds before they began their comeback. But after battling their way into a Match Tie-break, they quickly took a 5/1 lead and kept their noses in front to triumph after an hour and 43 minutes.

Arevalo and Middelkoop are into their second semi-final of the year after reaching this stage at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open. They await the winner of fourth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, the Madrid champions, and Australian Open finalists Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, the fifth seeds. 

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Nadal Gains Zverev Revenge In Rome

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

Exactly one week on from his quarter-final loss to Alexander Zverev at the Mutua Madrid Open, Rafael Nadal took his revenge against the German on Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The nine-time champion saved all eight break points he faced in the second set to defeat Zverev 6-3, 6-4 after two hours on Centre Court. Nadal’s win ended a streak of three straight losses against the World No. 6 and improved his ATP Head2Head record against Zverev to 6-3.

“[I am] happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to,” Nadal said in his post-match interview. “[It is] an important victory for me against a great player.”

Nadal is now just two wins away from equalling Novak Djokovic’s record haul of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles. The 34-year-old is also attempting to win 10 or more titles at a single event for the fourth time. Nadal already owns 13 Roland Garros crowns, 12 Barcelona trophies and 11 Monte-Carlo titles.

The Spaniard is through to his 12th semi-final in Rome. Nadal will attempt to extend his unbeaten 11-0 semi-final record at the Foro Italico when he faces first-time ATP Masters 1000 semi-finalist Reilly Opelka on Saturday. Opelka saved all four break points he faced to defeat Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6(2) on Grand Stand Arena.

“[I will face] a big chance against a player who has almost an unreturnable serve. [Reilly] is playing well,” Nadal said. “I need to be very focussed with my serve and then try to be ready to accept [the situation] and be [engaged] on the return. That is what I am looking for.”

In the first set, Nadal used his forehand to control the centre of the court and found consistent success behind his second-serve return (9/13). The 35-time Masters 1000 titlist raced into a 4-0 lead, but Zverev played with increased aggression from the baseline to reduce the gap. When serving for the set at 5-3, Nadal targeted Zverev’s backhand to save break point and convert his first set point.

Down 0/40 on his serve at 1-2 in the second set, Nadal played his way out of trouble with strong serving and powerful forehands. The second seed carried his momentum into the following game, where he dragged his opponent out of position with his forehand and broke serve with a series of topspin backhands. Nadal saved a further five break points in the second set and he clinched his place in the semi-finals by serving and volleying on his first match point.

[WATCH LIVE 1]

“I think I played more solid than in Madrid. At the same time, conditions are different,” Nadal said. “In Madrid, he was able to create a lot of damage with his serve and then with the first shot. Here, the situation is a little bit different. [These are] a little bit more normal conditions on the clay, so I was able to control a little bit more the game than in Madrid.”

Zverev was aiming to join Djokovic (7), Roger Federer (5) and Nikolay Davydenko (4) as only the fourth player to defeat Nadal in four or more consecutive matches. The 24-year-old entered the quarter-final clash on a seven-match winning streak, following his second title run in Madrid last week.

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Opelka Reaches Maiden Masters 1000 Semi-final

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

Reilly Opelka entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on a six-match losing streak, but he found his best level once again on Friday to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The American saved all four break points he faced to overcome Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6(2) after one hour and 41 minutes on Grand Stand Arena. Opelka, who is making his debut at the Foro Italico this week, has not dropped a set en route to the final four in the Italian capital.

“I am surprised [to reach my first Masters 1000 semi-final here]. Clay is not really my thing,” Opelka said in his post-match interview. “[It is] not much of an American thing. It is probably just a fluke, but I’ll run with it.”

[WATCH LIVE 1]

Not only is Opelka yet to drop a set in Rome, he is yet to lose his serve. The 6’11” right hander has struck 77 aces and just four double faults en route to the semi-finals.

“I’ve definitely served well. I hit my spots really well today, especially in big moments,” Opelka said. “I think that has been critical. I have stayed calm [and on] big points, I have delivered.”

Opelka will meet nine-time champion Rafael Nadal or Alexander Zverev for a spot in the championship match. The World No. 47 has not met either player on the ATP Tour. Nadal and Zverev will be meeting for the second straight week after Zverev’s straight-sets win at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Delbonis was making his first appearance in a Masters 1000 quarter-final. The Argentine won five matches from qualifying to reach the last eight in Rome, which included wins against 12th seed David Goffin and #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Berrettini, Schwartzman Headline Field in Lyon; All You Need To Know

  • Posted: May 14, 2021

The Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon will see a red-hot Matteo Berrettini continue his comeback. After a two-month layoff with an abdominal injury, the World No. 9 from Italy won the title in Belgrade and reached the final in Madrid.

He’s joined by another member of the Top 10, Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine is looking to get some momentum going after losing in the first round of both Madrid and Rome.

Also entered in the ATP 250 are World No. 13 David Goffin, French favorite Gael Monfils and #NextGen ATP stars Jannik Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev and Estoril winner Albert Ramos-Vinolas are also in the field. 

Established: 2017

Tournament Dates: 16-23 May 2021

Tournament Director: Thierry Ascione

Draw Ceremony: Saturday, 15 May at 11am

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Schedule (View On Official Website)
* Qualifying: Sunday & Monday from 10:30 am
* Main draw: Monday at 10:45 am, Tuesday – Friday at 11:00am, Saturday noon, Sunday 11:45 am
* Singles final: Sunday, 23 May at 11:45 am

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV 
TV Schedule

Venue: Parc de la Tete d’Or

Prize Money: €419,470 (Total Financial Commitment: €481,270) 

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

Honour Roll (Open Era)
Most Titles, Singles: Dominic Thiem, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Benoit Paire (1)
Most Titles, Doubles: Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Andres Molteni, Adil Shamasdin, Ivan Dodig, Edouard Roger-Vasselin (1)
Oldest Champion: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 32, in 2017
Youngest Champion: Dominic Thiem, 24, in 2018
Lowest-Ranked Champion: No. 51 Benoit Paire in 2019
Most Match Wins: Gilles Simon (6), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

2019 Finals
Singles: Benoit Paire (FRA) d [4] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4, 6-3   Read & Watch
Doubles: [2] Ivan Dodig [CRO]/Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d Ken Skupski (GBR) / Neal Skupski (GBR) 6-4, 6-3  Read More

Social
Hashtag: #OpenParc

Facebook: @openparcauvergnerhonealpes
Twitter: @OpenParcARA
Instagram: @openparcara

Did You Know?
Lyon hosted an indoor hard-court event from 1987-2009, before returning to the ATP Tour calendar as a clay-court tournament in 2017.

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