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Sock Closes In On Top 100 Return With Savannah Title: "Playing Challengers Is A Great Step"

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Sock Closes In On Top 100 Return With Savannah Title: “Playing Challengers Is A Great Step”

Former World No. 8 claims first title of 2022

It was exactly eight years ago that Nick Kyrgios battled Jack Sock for the title at the Savannah Challenger. A pair of future Top 20 stars grabbed the spotlight on the green clay of the Franklin Creek Tennis Center, dueling for nearly two hours under the searing Savannah sun. In the end, it was Kyrgios who prevailed in three tight sets, denying Sock his first Challenger clay-court crown.

Eight years later, the American would have his shot at redemption. He did not disappoint. Sock continued his quest to return to the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, blasting to the Savannah title on Sunday afternoon. After rising to a career-high No. 8 in 2017, the man with the ferocious forehand and lightning-fast hands is on the road back.

Back-to-back straight-set victories over countrymen Bjorn Fratangelo and Christian Harrison saw Sock find his way to the winners’ circle in Savannah. He defeated Harrison 6-4, 6-1 in Sunday’s championship, earning his first title of the year and fourth overall at the Challenger level. Moreover, it was his first crown on clay since prevailing at the ATP Tour event in Houston in 2015.

At the age of 29, Sock is on the rise after years of fighting to rediscover his elite form. It was nearly one year ago that he triumphed in Little Rock, en route to a return to the Top 200 in the ATP Rankings, and he is now on the cusp of the Top 100, soaring to No. 123 with his latest title.

Photo: Jacob Stuckey/Savannah Challenger

Sock spoke with broadcaster Mike Cation after prevailing in Savannah…

The 2014 final was such a battle against Nick Kyrgios. You were up big and he came back and won. A lot has changed since then for you, but tell me what this win means to you.
When you’re younger you take a lot of stuff for granted. Not necessarily in a negative way, but when you’re starting on the Challenger Tour, things just happen so fast. You don’t have the time to sit back and reflect. You’re bouncing from one tournament to the next. Now, things are a lot different for me. I have a wife, my family, Robby [Ginepri] and my team are around me. I’m able to calm down and soak in a lot of moments on court, compared to where I was even two years ago when I wasn’t sure I would keep playing.

Everyone here is good at tennis and you have to get through a whole draw, which is never easy. I don’t care if you’re playing singles or doubles, to get through a tournament always feels great. Of course, my goal at this point in my career is to not be playing Challengers, but this is a great step. You’re playing these to win them and advance to the next stage [on the ATP Tour]. It’s a positive step in the right direction and I take it day-by-day and keep going.

How did these courts make your forehand even more of a weapon this week? It really seemed to give you an advantage here.
With the green clay you can get a few more funky bounces than the red stuff in Europe, which can actually work to my advantage with a little more spin. That’s why I love clay, as it suits my game so much. I move very well on it. My forehand does really well on it too and the kick serve is very useful here. I used that a ton this week. It helps me a good amount.

You mentioned in the trophy ceremony that you’re now working with Robby Ginepri. What does he bring to your game?
It’s not rocket science necessarily. Especially at this point in my career. I’m almost 30 years old. Everyone here knows how to play tennis. But there are still little intricacies and things to work on, either pre-tournament or during the tournament. To his eyes, he might see something a little different. Obviously, Alex [Bogomolov, Jr.] brought me back from nothing and helped me get my ranking back up. With Robby, he’s known me for so long and we had a good start together from week one. He’s got a good eye for my game, has seen me play for a long time and has a vision for how I can win matches. I think that will be a big help as well.

It’s not easy to keep your focus at this level, especially when you’ve accomplished as much as you have. How have you been able to do that, and looking forward, how can you continue doing that in the months ahead?
It’s all about keeping the right perspective, honestly. These tournaments are super exciting when you’re young and just turned pro. Playing in Challengers feels awesome and you’re out here trying to work your way to the ATP Tour. And then you get there and you’re doing well for a bunch of years, as I was, but to come back to Challengers is a bit different.

I know what it takes and I know what it looks like to get back there. For me, I honestly don’t care if it’s a Challenger, a Masters 1000 or a Slam, I feel like if I can get through the first round or two, my level always rises. It always has.

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Murray Breaks Down Thiem In Madrid Clay Return

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Murray Breaks Down Thiem In Madrid Clay Return

Briton earns first clay win since 2017

Andy Murray owned the top spot in the ATP Rankings when he last took the court at the Mutua Madrid Open in 2017. His performance in a Monday victory over Dominic Thiem showed that his current level remains far closer to that mark than his current position of World No. 78.

Back on clay for the first time in nearly two years, the two-time Madrid champion looked right at home in a 6-3, 6-4 win. It was his first victory on the surface since the 2017 Roland Garros quarter-finals, when he beat Kei Nishikori.

Murray’s last clay-court match came at Roland Garros in 2020, and he had initially planned to skip this year’s clay swing before deciding to accept a wild card into the Spanish ATP Masters 1000 event. Nonetheless, he showed very few signs of rust in a dominant display.

In a strong serving performance that included nine aces, Murray saved all three break points he faced, with all three coming in in his opening service game of the second set. He won 78 per cent of his first-serve points in the one-hour, 42-minute contest.

Thiem, still seeking the first win of his comeback from a right-wrist injury, was brilliant in stretches on Manolo Santana Stadium — never more so than when he flicked a stunning backhand pass late in the opening set.

But the Austrian’s powerful forehand misfired too often in what was just his third tour-level event of the year, and Murray zeroed in on that wing to break serve in both sets. Thiem finished with 33 unforced errors, 24 of them coming from the forehand.

Both men used the drop shot to great effect throughout the match, with Thiem creating his own personal highlight reel early in the early stages. But Murray showed his touch, too, and came up with the pick of the bunch in a smooth half-volley as he drove home an early-break advantage in the second set.

With the victory, Murray improves to 8-1 in first-round matches on the year. He next faces the winner of 14th seed Denis Shapovalov’s matchup with lucky loser Ugo Humbert of France.

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Norrie's Brick Wall Indestructible Against Kwon In Madrid

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Norrie’s Brick Wall Indestructible Against Kwon In Madrid

Ninth seed will next play Isner

Cameron Norrie is known for his hard-court success, but the Briton showed he is plenty capable on clay Monday in Madrid.

The ninth seed made a good Mutua Madrid Open debut when he clawed past South Korean Soonwoo Kwon 7-5, 7-5 at the Caja Magica. He will next play big-serving American John Isner, who hit 30 aces in his straight-sets victory on Sunday.

There was not much to differentiate between Norrie and Kwon, a qualifier, on Stadium 3. But according to Tennis Data Innovation’s Insights, the Briton was just a bit better converting his offensive positions and escaping defensive positions, which made all the difference.

That was especially clear in the second set. After losing the opener, Kwon increased his aggression and dominated the pair’s Balance of Power, playing 25 per cent of his points from an attacking position compared to just 19 per cent for Norrie. 

But Norrie was a brick wall on defence, and the South Korean was unable to break through. The British lefty stole 47 per cent of his points from a defensive position, and was also more efficient converting his offensive positions, 68 per cent to 53 per cent (Learn More About Conversion & Steal Scores).

Set Two Insights:


Norrie, who competed in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate, let slip a break advantage in the second set. But he recovered thanks to his defensive skills and on match point, he stepped into the court and crushed a forehand winner to triumph after one hour and 49 minutes.

The 26-year-old will hope to take a lead in his ATP Head2Head series with Isner, against whom he has split four previous meetings. Their most recent clash came earlier this year on the hard courts of Acapulco, where Norrie triumphed 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4.

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Monfils To Take On Djokovic: 18th Time's A Charm?

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Monfils To Take On Djokovic: 18th Time’s A Charm?

Frenchman has never beaten World No. 1 Serb

Gael Monfils looked in vintage form in his opening round win over Carlos Gimeno Valero at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday afternoon, but the World No. 21 will have to go where he has never been before if he wants to extend his run at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Monfils holds a 0-17 record against his second-round opponent, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and the two-time quarter-finalist is aware of the size of the task that lies ahead.

“[Playing Djokovic] is going to be a big challenge for me,” Monfils told after his quickfire 6-3, 6-0 win over Spanish wild card Gimeno Valero. “I have never beaten him on the ATP Tour. I am getting my rhythm back as well and it is funny because he is too but has more matches on clay than me. I will try and make good decisions on the court, to try and beat him.”

If the Frenchman wants to notch a maiden win against 37-time Masters 1000 champion Djokovic, his outstanding defensive skills could be key. Perhaps more importantly, Monfils will have to use that defence to win points as effectively as he did against Gimeno Valero.

According to Tennis Data Innovations’ Conversion and Steal scores for the match, Monfils won 19 of 33 points after being in a defensive situation against the Spaniard. This gave him an impressive Steal score of 58 per cent for the first-round clash, showcasing Monfils’ ability to find a way to win points when under pressure (Learn More About Conversion and Steal Scores).

<a href=''>Gael Monfils</a> Vs. <a href=''>Carlos Gimeno Valero</a> Conversion & Steal Scores

According to the match’s Balance of Power, Gimeno Valero was actually in an offensive position more often than Monfils. But the home favourite struggled to convert because of Monfils’ dogged defence, which made the difference.

Monfils will hope to regain his early season form as he faces Djokovic for the first time since 2020 in Dubai. The Frenchman began the season with an 8-2 record after clinching an 11th ATP Tour title in Adelaide and reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open in January. His form has dipped since then, but the 35-year-old is comfortable with his underdog status as he prepares to face three-time champion Djokovic in Madrid for the first time.

“The guy is better than me, that is it,” said Monfils. “Every match is an opportunity to win, I try to take some lessons. He can beat me tomorrow and maybe at Rome and then Roland Garros, and then maybe I can beat him once.”

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Sinner Saves Three MPs, Survives Paul Duel In Madrid

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Sinner Saves Three MPs, Survives Paul Duel In Madrid

Italian to face De Minaur in second round at ATP Masters 1000 event

Jannik Sinner clinched the win on Monday at the Mutua Madrid Open, but the 10th seed had to come back from the brink against Tommy Paul at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Paul let slip two match points when serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set and another at 6-5 on the Sinner serve in the Spanish capital. The Italian upped his level at crucial moments to bounce back for a dramatic three-hour win.

Sinner is yet to reach a semi-final in 2022 but has shown good form at some of the biggest events this year, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the Masters 1000 events in Miami and Monte Carlo. The Italian will hope his hard-fought win over Paul can be the catalyst for a deep run at the Caja Magica, where he holds a 1-1 match record.


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Things were running smoothly for Sinner early as he dominated from deep in the opening stages on Manolo Santana Stadium, but Paul admirably stuck with his opponent. The American began to settle into the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting and recovered 2-4 to force a first-set tie-break, which he took comfortably after opening an unassailable 5/0 lead.

Paul continued to strike the ball cleanly and show imagination when coming forward, but the momentum of the match changed when the American served for it at 5-3 in the second. Sinner ripped a series of blistering forehands to reclaim the break and then fended off another match point to force a tie-break.

The 20-year-old looked to have found his range and after claiming the tie-break to level the match, he began to find searing winners off both wings to clinch an intriguing encounter 6-3 in the final set. A powerful serving performance aided the Italian when other parts of his game weren’t firing — he struck eight aces and won 72 per cent (46/64) of points behind his first delivery, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

Sinner now faces a second-round meeting with Alex de Minaur, who earlier defeated home favourite Pedro Martinez, 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-3. Sinner holds a 3-0 ATP Head2Head series lead over the 23-year-old Australian, a record that includes a straight-sets win for the Italian in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.

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Clay-Court Ready: Hurkacz Hunts Winning Formula In Madrid

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Clay-Court Ready: Hurkacz Hunts Winning Formula In Madrid

Pole competes in second clay-court event of the season in Madrid this week

The clay-court swing on the ATP Tour is a time for high-bouncing balls, lung-busting exchanges, red-stained socks and sliding into shots.

For Hubert Hurkacz, the period represents a chance to climb the ATP Rankings as he looks to transfer his strong hard-court form onto the red dirt. The Pole went 1-4 on clay in 2021 but has already earned three wins on the surface this year after advancing to the quarter-finals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Ahead of making his third appearance at the Mutua Madrid Open, Hurkacz revealed he is feeling confident that his game can continue to match up well on the clay this year.

“It is going to be better than last year because I was not winning matches then,” Hurkacz told “I have done some work with my coach and I am starting to feel better on clay courts. I think my game is going to be good. I think I have the capacity to play really well on the surface.

“I think I can move decently on clay courts. That helps, I can get to the ball. I feel that I can hit the ball hard on clay because I have more time on clay, so that is beneficial for me. I am just working on my game generally to improve on the surface.”

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The World No. 14 has enjoyed standout results on both hard and grass, capturing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami last year before he defeated Roger Federer en route to the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

While his thunderous groundstrokes and powerful serve are well suited on hard and grass courts, Hurkacz actually played primarily on clay when he was younger as he developed his game in Poland.

“In Poland we have so many clay courts, so when I was young I played a lot on clay courts,” Hurkacz said. “I definitely played way more on clay than I did on hard. From the age of eight all the way through until I was 16, I used to play on clay courts and enjoyed it. I feel comfortable playing on it.”

Hurkacz is defending just 143 ATP Ranking points from this week through the week of 20 June. He has already earned 180 points on the surface this year from Monte Carlo. With American Taylor Fritz the only player ranked above Hurkacz defending fewer points in that period, the Pole is targeting a return to the Top 10, after dropping out on 4 April 2022.

“It is definitely a focus to get back into the Top 10,” Hurkacz admitted. “If I can play at a good level, I will have chances to win tournaments. It is all about getting my game to a good spot and then I will have bigger opportunities to produce better results and reach finals.”

The 25-year-old was ranked outside the Top 30 at the start of the 2021 season. However, after capturing three tour-level titles, he qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin for the first time.

He is aiming to use the prestigious end-of-year event as fuel for further motivation in the coming weeks.

“Turin was a huge experience for me. I felt great there and the experience has really helped me,” Hurkacz said when reflecting on the prestigious end-of-year event. “It is also a big motivation to try and qualify again this year. Trying to become a better player and person. I want to improve my ranking and qualify for Turin.

“At the beginning of the year I had high expectations of myself. I wanted to do really well. I feel that I have got used to it now and am dealing with the pressure better and doing well.”

Hurkacz will face Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien in his opening match in Madrid as he looks to carry his Monte Carlo momentum into the second clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event of the season.

“I really, really like the city. Madrid is great,” Hurkacz said as he aims to win his first title of the season in the Spanish capital. “It is quite quick the surface here, which I feel suits my game and I feel I can have a good run here.”

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Rune Cracks Top 50, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Rune Cracks Top 50, Mover Of Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 2 May 2022

No. 45 Holger Rune, +25 (Career High)
The #NextGenATP Dane cracks the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings for the first time after marching to a maiden tour-level title at the BMW Open by American Express in Munich without dropping a set. Rune notched a first Top 10 win over Alexander Zverev in the second round and celebrated his 19th birthday by dropping just two games in a stunning quarter-final win over Emil Ruusuvuori. He then lifted the trophy after Botic van de Zandschulp retired in the championship match. Read Munich Final Report & Watch Highlights.

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No. 31 Botic van de Zandschulp, +9 (Career High)
The 26-year-old continued his solid rise with a run to a first ATP Tour final in Munich, jumping nine places to a career-high No. 31 after a productive week in Bavaria. The Dutchman took out second seed Casper Ruud in an impressive straight-sets win and battled past the in-form Miomir Kecmanovic in the semi-finals before he was forced to retire from his encounter with Rune.

No. 40 Sebastian Baez, +19 (Career High)
The 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist joins Rune in breaking the Top 50 after a stirring run to the title at the Millennium Estoril Open. The unseeded 21-year-old beat 2018 winner Joao Sousa, former World No. 3 Marin Cilic and defending champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas on the way to the championship match in Portugal, where he dominated fifth seed Frances Tiafoe to clinch a maiden ATP Tour title. Read Estoril Final Report & Watch Highlights.

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Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, +2
No. 25 Frances Tiafoe, +4 (Career High)
No. 30 Sebastian Korda, +7 (Career High)
No. 32 Miomir Kecmanovic, +6 (Career High)
No. 53 Oscar Otte, +9 (Career High)
No. 84 Alejandro Tabilo, +7 (Career High)

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Davidovich Fokina: 'I Needed To Reset'

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Davidovich Fokina: ‘I Needed To Reset’

Spaniard rose to a career-high No. 27 in the ATP Rankings in April

Having endured a bumpy start to the season, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina arrives at the Mutua Madrid Open flying higher than ever after his year took off in style at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters last month.

The Spaniard produced aggressive and explosive performances as he soared to his maiden tour-level final at the ATP Masters 1000 event, climbing to a career-high No. 27 in the process.

It was a welcome return to form for Davidovich Fokina, who had struggled to achieve the results his hard work deserved in the early months of the season. The 22-year-old was 4-9 on the year prior to his arrival in the Principality and admitted that he was drained following his first-round defeat in Marrakech at the start of April.

“The beginning of the season was tough,” Davidovich Fokina told “The week before I played in Marrakech and I lost in the first round. I needed to reset my mind because it was not going well. I took three days off, and went away to disconnect my mind. I continued to work on my fitness but I turned my phone off, I was just reading books and was trying to see what I wanted to do with my life.

“I took a flight to Monte Carlo on Saturday and then played Sunday and I was like ‘OK, I don’t care’. I just wanted to reset my mind. In the first round I played against [Marcos] Giron on the centre court and it was fun and I was nervous but it felt different. I was refreshed and it was good.”

Following his opening win, the refocused Spaniard then met World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who was competing at an event for just the second time this season. Davidovich Fokina battled hard in front of a packed Court Rainier III to topple the Serb 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 for the biggest win of his career.

For the two-time ATP Challenger Tour champ, it was another key moment in the changing of his fortunes.

“From the beginning of the tournament I didn’t think I would reach the final. I had a very tough draw,” Davidovich Fokina said. “In the second round, I had Djokovic. He had not had a lot of rhythm of matches, so I thought I had an opportunity to win that match. After that win, I had a lot of confidence in myself.

“The beginning of the season was tough because in a lot of matches I had a lot of control but that escaped, and I lost. However, after beating Djokovic, everything grew confidence-wise and I started to believe in myself and pushing myself to see where my limits are.”

Push himself he did, earning further victories against David Goffin, Taylor Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov, before World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas halted him in the final.

By advancing to his maiden tour-level championship match, Davidovich Fokina was rewarded for all the hard work he has put into his game for the past decade.

A crucial figure behind the 22-year-old’s success is coach Jorge Aguirre. The pair has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship after they started working together at Racket Club Fuengirola, Malaga, in 2011.

“I started with him when I was 11. He is obviously my coach but he is more like my father,” Davidovich Fokina said, cracking a smile. “He is teaching me new things every day, keeping me in line. The good line. Because sometimes you go to a line you shouldn’t. Without him and his help, I wouldn’t have been a tennis player.”

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Under Aguirre’s guidance, Davidovich Fokina has won two ATP Challenger titles, competed at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in 2019 and steadily climbed the ATP Rankings.

Now his goals for the rest of the season are clear.

“Our objective this year was to be Top 20. But after the start of the season, I was around No. 50 and struggling a little bit. However, to be in the Top 30 after Monte Carlo, it has changed a lot of things,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I have to believe in myself more and be more ambitious. I want to be Top 20 before the clay season is over. Then after that we will see what happens.”

The Spaniard, who revealed he loves watching the Marvel movies when he is not competing, will begin his Mutua Madrid Open campaign against Lloyd Harris on Monday. It will be the first time Davidovich Fokina has played on home soil this year and he is relishing the opportunity.

“For me to play in Spain is so exciting. You play in front of your people and the Spanish fans,” Davidovich Fokina said. “It is my third year here playing in Madrid and it is always fun because you can feel the support and the energy the people can give you. After what I did in Monte Carlo, I have more confidence to play well and I will really enjoy it.”

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Day 2 Preview: Thiem vs. Murray Headlines Packed Monday Slate

  • Posted: May 02, 2022

Day 2 Preview: Thiem vs. Murray Headlines Packed Monday Slate

Sinner, Schwartzman, Shapovalov also in action

After a trio of matches opened men’s singles play Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, a full slate awaits on Monday. A marquee evening matchup between Dominic Thiem and Andy Murray headlines the action on Manolo Santana Stadium, with 10th seed Jannik Sinner set to open the day’s play against Tommy Paul.

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Thiem and Murray will play for the fifth time, with their ATP Head2Head series locked a two wins apiece. But they have not met since 2019, when Thiem won the only straight-sets match in their history in Beijing.

The Austrian is seeking the first win of his comeback from a right-wrist tear following appearances in Belgrade and Estoril. Murray is playing for the first time since posting a 2-2 record at the Indian Wells and Miami ATP Masters 1000 events, and accepted a wild card after initially announcing he would skip the clay season. 

Both are previous ATP Masters 1000 champions, with Thiem winning Indian Wells in 2019 and Murray owning 14 titles at that level, most recently in Paris in 2016.  The Briton is a two-time Madrid champ, lifting the title at the 2008 hard-court event and the 2015 edition on clay. Thiem has been to the semi-finals or beyond in each of his past four Madrid appearances, including back-to-back finals in 2017-18.


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Sinner and Paul will meet for the first time, with the 20-year-old Italian making his first appearance since his Monte Carlo quarter-final run. Sinner is making his second Madrid appearance after a second-round showing one year ago. While Sinner stands at No. 12 in the ATP Rankings, three spots off his career high, Paul enters at No. 34, just one spot off his own career best. With a 15-9 record on the season, Paul will be looking to atone for his lone first-round loss last week in Estoril.

Rounding out the centre court action is another first-time matchup between Gael Monfils and Spanish wild card Carlos Gimeno Valero, with the winner advancing to face top seed Novak Djokovic. The 20-year-old Gimeno Valero will be making his ATP Tour main-draw debut, while World No. 21 Monfils seeks to return to the Madrid quarter-finals for the third time. The Frenchman last played in the Spanish capital in 2019, when he lost a third-set tie-break to Roger Federer in the last 16.

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Also on the schedule for Monday is 13th seed Diego Schwartzman vs. qualifier Benoit Paire, and 14th seed Denis Shapovalov vs. lucky loser Ugo Humbert. Prior to those two matchups on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium, home favourite Alejandro Davidovich will face South Africa’s Lloyd Harris.

In doubles action, Miami champions Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner will open their Madrid campaign against Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar on Court 5.

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