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Scouting Report: Thiem Returns In Cordoba; Zverev & Karatsev Headline Fields In Montpellier & Pune

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

The action on the ATP Tour will be spread across three continents this week, with ATP 250 tournaments taking place in Argentina, France and India.

Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman lead the field at the Cordoba Open, while Alexander Zverev is the top seed at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Aslan Karatsev will be targetting his second tour-level title of the season at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. looks ahead at 15 things to watch this week.

View Draws: Cordoba | Montpellier | Pune

1) Schwartzman Top Seed: Argentine Schwartzman will lead the way as the top seed on home soil in Cordoba, where he reached the final in 2020. The 29-year-old, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup earlier this month, will be making his fourth appearance at the ATP 250 event and starts against countryman Federico Coria or a qualifier.

2) Thiem Returns: Dominic Thiem has not competed at a tour-level event since Mallorca last June due to a wrist injury he sustained while he was in action on the grass in Spain. The former World No. 3 will make his return on the Argentine clay as he makes his debut at the Cordoba Open. The second seed, who has won 10 tour-level titles on this surface, will play Argentine wild card Tomas Martin Etcheverry or a qualifier in the second round.

3) Clay-Court Standouts: With the ATP Tour returning to clay for the first time this year, there are many stars who flourish on the surface relishing the opportunity. Cristian Garin has won five tour-level titles on clay, including in Cordoba in 2020, while Federico Delbonis captured his two trophies at this level on the surface in Sao Paulo in 2014 and Marrakech in 2016. Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas was a finalist at the event last season and has triumphed at three ATP Tour events in his career on clay. All three are in the field this week.

4) Home Favourites: Alongside Schwartzman and Delbonis, there are six other Argentines in the main draw at the Cordoba Open (this does not include potential qualifiers. Sebastian Baez, Facundo Bagnis, Francisco Cerundolo, Federico Coria, Etcheverry and Juan Ignacio Londero will all be targetting deep runs in front of home support. Londero tasted success at the ATP 250 event in 2019, capturing his maiden tour-level crown at the tournament.

5) Sonego To Go Deep? Lorenzo Sonego is the fourth seed in Cordoba and will look to improve on his 2021 performance at the ATP 250 tournament where he reached the second round. However, the Italian, who advanced to the third round at the Australian Open this month, could face a tricky opening test against #NextGenATP Holger Rune of Denmark in his first match if the 18-year-old can overcome Roberto Carballes Baena.

1) Zverev In Action: Zverev has fond memories in Montpellier, having won the title in his last appearance at the ATP 250 event in 2017. The World No. 3 is the top seed after receiving a wild card and will be aiming to bounce back from the fourth-round defeat he suffered against Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open. The German will play 27-year-old Ilya Ivashka or American Mackenzie McDonald in his opening match.

2) Home Favourite Monfils: Gael Monfils arrives in Montpellier full of confidence following his strong start to the season. The Frenchman captured his 11th tour-level title at the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month, before he advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

The 35-year-old has lifted the trophy in Montpellier three times (2010, 2014, 2020) and will aim to enjoy another deep run on home soil as the third seed. He will begin his campaign against countryman Corentin Moutet or Swede Mikael Ymer.

3) Can Bautista Agut Go One Step Further? Second seed Roberto Bautista Agut advanced to the final at the ATP 250 indoor-hard event last year, advancing to the championship match without dropping a set. The Spaniard has already earned Top 20 wins against Garin, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkcaz this year at the ATP Cup and will look to maintain his good form against Lucas Pouille or a qualifier in his first match.

4) Field Full Of Past Champions: French pair Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have lifted the trophy in Montpellier four times between them, with Gasquet triumphing in 2013, 2015 and 2016, while Tsonga was the victor in 2019. The experienced duo begin against seventh seed Ugo Humbert and a qualifier, respectively.

Meanwhile, David Goffin triumphed at the tournament last year. The eighth seed will play Benjamin Bonzi in the first round on Monday.

5) Herbert/Mahut Top Seeds: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champions, will play their first tournament of the year as a team in Montpellier. The Frenchmen are the top seeds. Mahut lifted the Montpellier trophy in 2012 alongside countryman Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Three-time champion Roger-Vasselin and Israeli Jonathan Erlich, the third seeds, face a tough opening challenge against Zverev and close friend Marcelo Melo.

1) Karatsev Leads The Field: Aslan Karatsev will aim to win his second tour-level title of the season when he competes in Pune for the first time. The Russian, who triumphed at the Sydney Tennis Classic earlier this month, is the top seed and will open against a qualifier in the second round.

2) Is Musetti Ready To Go Deep? #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti will look to continue his good work from last season, where he rose from outside the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 57. He also competed in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The 19-year-old is the second seed and begins his tournament against Australian Aleksandar Vukic or Frenchman Hugo Grenier.

3) Former Champion Returns: Czech Jiri Vesely clinched his second ATP Tour crown in Pune in 2020, winning three three-set matches en route to the trophy. The fourth seed, who will make his fourth appearance at the hard-court tournament, will face Dennis Novak or Bernabe Zapata Miralles in his first match.

4) First-Time Winner? Third seed Gianluca Mager, fifth seed Daniel Altmaier and sixth seed Emil Ruusuvuori will all be aiming to win their first tour-level title this week in India. The trio has captured 11 ATP Challenger Tour trophies between them, but they have never triumphed at this level.

Mager opens against Indian wild card Arjun Kadhe or Portugal’s Joao Sousa, while Altmaier plays another Indian wild card in the form of Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Ruusuvuori kicks off his campaign against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.

5) Saville/Smith Top Seeds In Doubles: Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith are the top seeds in the doubles draw and are teaming for the third time this season. The Australians will face stiff competition from second seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan and third seeds Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski. Marc Polmans and Matt Reid are the fourth seeds, with singles stars Musetti (w/Gaio) and Vesely (w/Erler) among those also in doubles action. 

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Relive Nadal's Epic Australian Open Victory In Pictures

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in a thrilling five-hour, 24-minute Australian Open final to earn a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title. relives the memorable battle through pictures.

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit:AFP/Getty Images
This was the fifth ATP Head2Head meeting between Nadal and Medvedev. They also clashed in the 2019 US Open final, which Nadal won in five sets.

Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Medvedev got off to a quick start inside Rod Laver Arena. The World No. 2 made just five unforced errors in the first set to sprint to a 6-2 lead.

Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
The Russian then clawed through a gruelling 84-minute second set to take a two-set lead. Medvedev was firing on all cylinders. Not only was he more consistent than Nadal, but he used his baseline game to push the Spaniard all over the court. 

Leading 3-2 in the third set, he earned a 0/40 advantage on Nadal’s serve. A second consecutive major title was drawing near for the 2021 US Open champion.

Rafael Nadal Fans
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
But the crowd was fully behind Nadal throughout. The legendary lefty continued to fight for every point, and the fans helped inspire the 35-year-old to continue looking for ways back into the match.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Nadal had only come back from two sets down three times in his career, with the most recent instance coming at Wimbledon in 2007 against Mikhail Youzhny. Nevertheless, the World No. 5 raised his level and forced a fourth set.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Nadal fully seized the momentum from there, firing away with his lethal forehand and stepping into backhands inside the baseline. As Medvedev began to show holes in his game, the Spaniard took full advantage to push the clash into a deciding set. This was the seventh time a Grand Slam final Nadal has contested has gone to a fifth set.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Despite letting slip his first opportunity to serve out the championship at 5-4 in the fifth set, Nadal immediately broke back to earn another chance. This time, the lefty converted to break a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most men’s singles major crowns in history.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Nadal quickly went to his box to celebrate with his team and family. He shared an emotional moment with his father, Sebastian Nadal.

Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
This was Nadal’s 21st Grand Slam trophy and his 90th tour-level victory overall. The former World No. 1 is now 21-8 in major finals.

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Nadal: 'Biggest Comeback of My Career'

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

Rafael Nadal has never been one to give up in moments of adversity, but he surprised even himself with his stunning five-set win over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

“If we put everything together, the scenario, the momentum, what it means…yeah, [it’s] probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career,” said the Spaniard in his post-match press conference.

The sixth seed rallied from two-sets-to-love down to seal an epic 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Rod Laver Arena and become the first man to 21 Grand Slam singles titles.

“At the end history is about the victory, but the way that you win the match in terms of personal feelings is different,” Nadal said. “The way that I achieved this trophy tonight was just unforgettable, one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career, without a doubt. [It] means a lot to me.”

Despite being 0/40 down on his own serve with the Russian up two sets and leading 3-2 in the third set, Nadal said he had nonetheless retained a semblance of belief that he could stay in contention with Medvedev.

“In that moment, of course, the situation was critical,” said Nadal, “but sport is unpredictable. The normal thing is to lose the match in straight sets from that situation. On the other hand, I had a big chance in the second [set] too.

“I was repeating to myself during the whole match, I lost a lot of times here [in Melbourne] having chances, sometimes I was a little bit unlucky. I just wanted to keep believing until the end. I just wanted to give myself a chance.

“That’s what I did. Just fight, just keep belief in trying to find a solution. Of course, I was lucky to save that moment. [There were] a lot of moments that can decide the final like this.”

The Spaniard was also full of praise for Medvedev, who won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September. “I think Daniil is a great champion,” said Nadal. “He accepted the loss very well and I can say thanks because it’s a very hard night for him. I know how tough it is to be in that position.”

Nadal acknowledged the significance of winning his 21st Grand Slam title but insisted his title in Melbourne will not suddenly make him view his own career any differently. “It’s amazing to achieve another Grand Slam at this moment of my career,” said the Spaniard. “Of course, I know it’s a special number, 21. I know what it means, but from my point of view today is an unforgettable day…I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career.

“I really believe that I hold a very positive spirit. For the last six months, I really fought a lot to try to be back on court…[There] have been very tough moments because you don’t know if you’re going to have the chance. I feel honoured.”

It’s been a long journey since a 19-year-old Nadal picked up his first major crown at Roland Garros back in 2005, and he also admitted the feelings around his major victories had changed with age.

“[Today was] more emotional than the first one, no doubt about that,” said Nadal. “At the latter stages of your career, I think you enjoy these moments more because you know the chances are less. When you are 19 of course it is super special, but you know if you are playing well, you’re going to keep having chances to enjoy [such] moments.”

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Medvedev: “Huge Respect” For History-Maker Nadal

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

Up against an all-time legend on the brink of history, Daniil Medvedev came oh-so-close to spoiling Rafael Nadal’s chase for major title No. 21.

The World No. 2 led the Spaniard by two sets in Sunday’s Australian Open final before an inspired Nadal roared back for a thrilling 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

“[I have] huge respect for Rafa,” said Medvedev in his post-match press conference. “Huge respect for beating me because I tried my best.”

The Russian was particularly impressed with how Nadal handled the pressure knowing he was trying to achieve something no male player had before.

“The way he managed to play throughout all these sets, even in the tough moments, for him it was for making history,” said Medvedev. “For sure he tried not to think about it, but it must have been somewhere in his head.”

Earlier, during the trophy ceremony, Medvedev had highlighted the physical prowess of the Spaniard as a key decider in the marathon encounter.

“[It’s] tough to talk after five hours, 30 minutes and losing, but I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed,” said Medvedev. “I tried during the match just to play tennis, but after the match I asked him, ‘Are you tired?’, because it was insane.”

Medvedev added that the level was “very high” before addressing Nadal directly. “You raised your level after two sets for the 21st Grand Slam. I thought you were going to get tired, maybe you did just a little but still won the match,” said Medvedev. “You’re an amazing champion.”

Despite coming painfully close to picking up consecutive Grand Slam titles after his maiden major win at the US Open last September, the Russian was not downbeat about his own performance in the Melbourne final. “I’m not that disappointed,” said Medvedev. “It was a huge match, for sure some small points, small details that I could have done better if I wanted to win. But that’s tennis. That’s life.”

Medvedev explained how he tried to make Nadal run in the fifth set. But it was to no avail.

“He was really strong, even at four hours,” said Medvedev. “He didn’t play for six months. He told me after the match that he hadn’t practised much. It was unreal.”

The Russian also refused to dwell on the three break points he held on the Nadal serve when 3-2 up in the third set, opportunities that ultimately got away from him. “I don’t remember all of [the break points] in detail, but I remember that I made all three returns,” said Medvedev. “Just got a little bit tight. But, again, that’s tennis. Should have done better. Should have hit a winner. Maybe would have won the match.”

Medvedev still holds great belief in the methods that have taken him to No. 2 in the ATP Rankings and has already identified his areas for improvement for next time. “Tactically nothing changed. I feel like I was playing right, but Rafa stepped up,” said Medvedev. “The only thing was he was stronger than me physically today. There were some shots and points where I was a little bit on the back foot. Rafa takes control of these moments.”

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Social Media Reacts To Nadal's Thrilling Australian Open Win

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

Rafael Nadal completed a thrilling comeback from two sets down against Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final. It was just the fourth time the Spaniard has rallied from two sets down and the first time since his fourth-round Wimbledon victory against Mikhail Youzhny in 2007.

The stars — including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic — took to social media to congratulate the lefty on his record-breaking 21st major title. Australian legend Rod Laver, former World No. 1 Andy Roddick, three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka, WTA icon Billie Jean King and others also shared their praise.

Several athletes from outside of tennis also congratulated Nadal, including football star Toni Kroos, Formula 1 driver George Russell and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

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