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Nadal, Norrie Drawn In Same Citi Open Quarter

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

World No. 3 Rafael Nadal has landed in a tricky section of the Citi Open draw as he begins his quest for an 89th tour-level title. The top-seeded Spaniard is set to make his debut in Washington D.C., and he could meet one of the most in-form players of the season in an early hard-court test. 

The Spaniard will be contesting his first hard-court tournament since the Australian Open in February, where he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set battle. Nadal has amassed a 22-4 record on the season after lifting trophies in Barcelona and Rome, but has not competed since reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Djokovic) after withdrawing from Wimbledon citing physical and mental fatigue. 

View full Washington DC draw. 

Should he reach the quarter-finals, top seed Nadal could get a big test in the form of seventh seed Cameron Norrie, who lifted his first ATP Tour trophy a fortnight ago in Los Cabos. Norrie is one of the winningest players on Tour, and he trails only Tsitsipas (40) and Andrey Rublev (36) with 35 matches won in 2021.

But that’s not the only challenge Nadal could face as he seeks his first hard-court title since Acapulco last year. He has landed in the same half as fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov, whom he could meet in the semi-finals. But plenty of unseeded threats also loom large, including big-hitting Nick Kyrgios and #NextGenATP Brandon Nakashima. Nadal will start his campaign against the winner of Jack Sock and Yoshihito Nishioka. 

Kyrgios, who won the title here in 2019, will face Mackenzie McDonald in the first round. He would set up an intriguing matchup with 13th seed Benoit Paire should he advance.

Second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime anchors the bottom half of the Washington D.C. draw, where youth rules as #NextGenATP Jannik Sinner, Sebastian Korda and wild card Jenson Brooksby are also in the mix. Fifth seed Sinner and 12th seed Korda could meet in the third round after landing in the same section, which also features third seed Alex de Minaur. De Minaur qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but had to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Auger-Aliassime will face the winner between Andreas Seppi and a qualifier, with a potential third-round clash against 16th seed Frances Tiafoe. Should he advance, big-hitting Reilly Opelka, the eighth seed, could be his opponent in the quarter-finals.

Did You Know?
Nadal is seeking to become the second Spanish champion to win in Washington D.C., and the first since Alex Corretja in 2000.

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Ruud Eyes Clay-Court Hat-Trick, Faces Martinez In Kitzbühel Final

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

Top seed Casper Ruud is one match away from lifting his fourth singles trophy of the year after taking down Arthur Rinderknech on Friday in a rain-interrupted 6-3, 7-6(7) victory at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel. 

The Norwegian added an 11th consecutive victory to a head-turning win streak that has seen him claim back-to-back trophies at the Nordea Open in Bastad and the Swiss Open Gstaad. Ruud, who also won at the Gonet Geneva Open earlier in the season, will take on Pedro Martinez in the Kitzbühel final as he seeks to claim his fifth career title – and lift his third trophy in as many weeks.  

“When I won in Gstaad, I was already thinking about it a little, that maybe I can try and get a hat trick. That would be unbelievable,” Ruud said. “And now I have fought my way to the final here, and I have the chance to play for it tomorrow. I will try to fight even more again tomorrow.” 

Ruud is seeking to become the first player since Andy Murray in October 2011 to win three ATP Tour singles titles in as many weeks. Murray achieved the feat by lifting the trophies in Bangkok (d. Young), Tokyo (d. Nadal) and Shanghai (d. Ferrer). 

The top seed had to fight through French alternate Rinderknech in order to reach the final. He broke early to take a 4-1 lead, and kept his composure after a rain delay halted play for several hours. Upon resumption, Ruud converted his fifth set point to close out the opening set. 

He had to save a set point in the second-set tie-break as Rinderknech saved two match points and took a 7/6 lead. But Ruud, who didn’t face a break point in the match, reeled off the next three points to seal the victory after one hour and 45 minutes.


“I think I played steady the whole match and with few mistakes. That was the plan all along, to try to feed him with a lot of balls as much as possible,” Ruud said. “He has a lot of big weapons, but sometimes when he plays it can be high-risk and there can be mistakes. I think I did the plan very well.” 

Ruud will take on Martinez next after the Spaniard rallied from a set down to take down Daniel Altmaier and book a place into his first ATP Tour final. Martinez won 74 per cent (42/57) and broke his opponent’s serve four times to seal the 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. 

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Think Pink! How Opelka & Schwartzman Have Turned Heads

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

You can normally identify Reilly Opelka by his booming serve and his 6’11” frame. This week at the Truist Atlanta Open, just look for pink.

Opelka and Diego Schwartzman during the European clay swing debuted an eye-catching pink tie-dye kit, which was made in collaboration with Italian fashion brand MSGM. The American has great interest in the fashion world, and he was really happy with the outfit, which he is wearing again this week in Georgia.

“This is my favourite kit hands down, the one Diego and I are both wearing. And I also like it because it’s just Diego and I wearing it,” Opelka said during the clay swing. “A lot of brands you see so many other guys just wearing the same stuff, it gets repetitive. You see [John] Isner, [Sam] Querrey and some of the other guys wearing a really classy, timeless Fila look with that lavender purple, and then Diego and I are wearing this loud tie-dye. It just changes it up a little bit.

“[WTA player] Sonya Kenin has a cool MSGM kit as well. I think it adds some diversity in one brand in tennis, which doesn’t happen at all.”

Reilly Opelka
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Opelka enjoys the collaboration with designer Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM, and he is especially pleased with the pink colour.

“Collabs that aren’t well done in my opinion are ones that aren’t on brand. You just have one brand that’s really hot with another brand that’s really hot. Just because you have two hot brands doesn’t mean they mix well,” Opelka said. “But I think they’re really on brand with one another.” 

Schwartzman, who made the quarter-finals in Paris with the kit, was happy with the fresh look.

“I really love it,” Schwartzman said at the time. “For me, if the people like [it], I like [it]… I think it looks good. I like to be on court with new clothes and different [looks].” 

This is not the first tie-dye kit they have worn. Both also sported a shirt with rainbow colours last year, including at the Western & Southern Open (picture below).

Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Bold does not always work in fashion or tennis. But according to Opelka, this pink collaboration has hit the mark. Call it an ace.

“A lot of times in the high-end fashion space people just collab to collab since they both have big-name brands,” Opelka said. “But I think this one is more precise.”

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Djokovic: ‘I Can Recover And Win At Least One Medal’

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

Despite Novak Djokovic’s disappointing semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev on Friday at the Tokyo Olympics, which ended the Serbian’s hopes of a historic Golden Grand Slam, the 34-year-old is still fully focused on gaining an Olympic bronze medal for his country.

Djokovic was chasing a 23rd straight singles win against the fourth seed, but struggled to find his best form against the German, who overcame the World No. 1 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic will now face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in Saturday’s bronze medal match.

“I feel terrible right now in every sense but tomorrow hopefully a fresh start I can recover and win at least one medal for my country,” Djokovic said.

Having won the first three major championships of the season, Djokovic was aiming to complete an achievement only WTA legend Stefanie Graf managed in 1988 by winning all four major championships and a singles Olympic gold medal.

The top seed looked on course to reach the gold medal match as he led by a set and a break against the World No. 5. However, Djokovic struggled on serve in the latter stages of the match in the high temperatures in Tokyo.

“Tough day, a really tough day,” Djokovic said. “I feel so terrible right now. I was leading [by] a set then a break and he managed to turn the match around. He served huge, was attacking, and I was not getting any free points on my first serves.

“I [have] got to give him credit for turning (the) match around. He served extremely well. I mean I was not getting too many looks on the second serve. My serve just drastically dropped. I didn’t get any free points from 3-2 up in the second. My game fell apart.

“To play someone of his quality, of his level, it’s just too tough to win a match (like that). It’s just sport. He played better.”

On a challenging day for Djokovic, the Serbian also fell in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles with countrywoman Nina Stojanovic to the ROC’s Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina.

After his bronze medal matches, Djokovic’s attention will turn to the hard-court season as he aims to capture a calendar-year Grand Slam at the US Open, a title he has won three times before. The only player in the Open Era to accomplish this feat was Rod Laver in 1969.

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Rublev's Roaring Forehand: 'Keep Your Arm Loose'

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

Executing a forehand like Andrey Rublev is not as easy as he makes it look. But with the right ‘coach’, it can be taught.

The Russian star blasts the ball at incredible speeds with deadly accuracy to all areas of the court. But there’s more to it than just “gripping and ripping”. According to Rublev, you need the right mix of serenity and intensity.

“The main thing is that your arm is loose and relaxed,” Rublev said. “If you do everything perfectly with the legs, then you give the easy job to the arm. You just need to do the swing and hit it.”

Learn more from Rublev at TopCourt

The Top 10 stalwart is bringing you plenty more advice as a TopCourt ambassador. Rublev will share with fans technical pointers, step-by-step instruction, tactical lessons and his favourite drills.

The Russian will also take you inside his journey as a professional tennis player. Rublev, the son of a former professional boxer and tennis coach, developed a love for competition at a young age and focused on his fitness and work ethic.

“One evening my mom arrived from her job and she bought some typical toys for the kids,” Rublev recalled. “She put them on the line for me to choose. I crawled to the tennis racquet.”

The eight-time ATP Tour titlist also delves into his daily routine and why it is important to always work to improve and respect every opponent.

To learn tennis from the world’s best, visit

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Mektic/Pavic Capture Olympic Gold In Tokyo

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic’s dream season continued on Friday as they battled past countrymen Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 to claim a historic first gold medal in tennis for Croatia at the Tokyo Olympics.

The top seeds, who booked their spot at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals earlier this month, won 75 per cent (27/36) of their first-service points and raised their level in the Match Tie-break to secure victory in one hour and 38 minutes.

“This is just a very happy feeling and we’re super thrilled to win the title and just to be at the Olympics,” Mektic told “To have such a great result is just more than a dream come true and I’m so delighted to share this moment with Mate [Pavic].”

View Order Of Play | View 2020 Olympics Results

Mektic and Pavic arrived in Tokyo having won eight tour-level titles in their maiden year together as a team. They became the first Croatian players to lift the Wimbledon men’s doubles title in July, and have captured three ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Miami, Monte-Carlo, and Rome.

The pair dominated in the first set as they closed the net effectively and returned with great depth. Mektic and Pavic broke in the opening game and were strong on serve as they moved ahead. Cilic and Dodig returned with greater power in the second set though as they caused problems for the top seeds to level.

However, Mektic and Pavic used their experience in the Match Tie-break to claim a 53rd win of the season and 15th in a row.

Cilic and Dodig were competing in their second tour-level event of the season as a pair, having enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart in June. The Croatians also teamed at the 2012 London Olympics where they advanced to the quarter-finals. They will leave Tokyo with a silver medal.

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Daniell/Venus Capture Bronze Medal In Tokyo

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

New Zealand duo Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus ended a strong week at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday by defeating Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3), 6-2 to capture the bronze medal.

Daniell and Venus, who also teamed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, saved all three break points they faced. They won 75 per cent (33/44) of their first-service points to claim victory in one hour and 49 minutes.

View Order Of Play | View 2020 Olympics Results

Venus has won two tour-level titles this year at the Hamburg European Open (w/Puetz) and the Gonet Geneva Open (w/Peers), while Daniell enjoyed a run to the final at The Qatar ExxonMobil Open (w/Oswald) in March.

Krajicek and Sandgren were making their Olympic debuts this week and were teaming for the fifth time this year.

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Khachanov To Compete For Gold, Reaches Tokyo Final

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2021

The ROC’s Karen Khachanov guaranteed himself at least a silver medal on Friday at the Tokyo Olympics as he produced a dominant display to move past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3 to reach the final.

The 12th seed, who is making his Olympic debut this week, was strong on serve throughout, hitting 10 aces and winning 93 per cent (26/28) of his first-service points to advance in 80 minutes.

View Order Of Play | View 2020 Olympics Results | View Draw

Khachanov will next face either top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic or German Alexander Zverev in the gold medal match.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon and the Great Ocean Road Open this year. Khachanov also equalled his best Grand Slam result at Wimbledon earlier this month as he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Shapovalov).

Carreno Busta upset World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals but could not match those performance levels against Medvedev’s countryman Khachanov on Friday. The sixth seed, who won his first ATP 500 trophy and sixth tour-level title earlier in July at the Hamburg European Open, had dropped just one set en route to the last four.

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