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Nadal: 'Living With An Injury, It Is Nothing New'

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Nadal: ‘Living With An Injury, It Is Nothing New’

Spaniard to monitor foot in lead up to Paris

Rafael Nadal says that he will do everything in his power – including having his doctor on hand in Paris – to mount a competitive bid to win Roland Garros despite bowing out of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Thursday below his best due to a chronic foot injury.

After a competitive first two sets with Denis Shapovalov, Nadal was clearly impeded in the third as Shapovalov rallied to a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory, reversing a loss to the Spaniard at the same stage in Rome last year, when the Canadian failed to convert two match points.

“I had my foot again with a lot of pain,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “I am a player living with an injury; it is nothing new. It’s something that is there.

“Unfortunately my day-by-day is difficult, honestly… it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes. Today at half the second set, it starts and then it wasn’t playable for me… I don’t want to take away anything from Denis… Today is for him. Well done for him.”


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A 10-time champion in Rome, Nadal was playing just his second tournament since sustaining a rib injury in March during Indian Wells. Last week he fell in three sets to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid quarter-finals and today the lefty was looking to reach his 100th quarter-final at ATP Masters 1000 level.

The 36-time Masters 1000 champion was devastated to finish another tournament suffering from injury, even though this one is a long-term known ailment.

“Since I came back, the foot has been tough,” he said. “It’s tough for me to be able to practise the proper way days in a row. So then you need to move well to compete at the highest level, something that I am not able to practise.

“The toughest thing for me today is honestly I start to feel myself play much better. I started the match playing much better. My practice was much better, the warmup, than the other day.”

With Roland Garros beginning 22 May, Nadal was asked whether his foot would allow him to mount a serious bid for a record-extending 14th title at the clay-court major.

“What can happen in the next couple of days, I don’t know. What can happen in one week, I really don’t know now,” he said.

“It’s the time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it… I don’t know if rest, I don’t know if maybe practice. But I still have a goal in one week and a couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming about that goal.

“First thing that I need to do is to don’t have pain to practise, that’s it… It’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I’m going to have my doctor there with me. That sometimes helps because you can do things.

“In the positive days and in the negative days, you need to stay and to value all the things that happened to me in a positive way. Then days like today, just accept and try to keep going even if sometimes it’s not easy for me.”

Nadal began the year by winning three consecutive titles, including a record-breaking 21st major at the Australian Open. He is hoping to move two majors clear of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic after Paris this year. But Djokovic will be attempting to join the Spaniard as a holder of 21 Slams.

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Shapovalov Completes Unfinished Business vs. Nadal In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Shapovalov Completes Unfinished Business vs. Nadal In Rome

Canadian to face Ruud in quarter-finals

Denis Shapovalov had Rafael Nadal on the brink one year ago at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, creating two match points before losing in a third-set tie-break. It was the Canadian who engineered a comeback on Thursday in Rome, scoring his second win over an ailing Nadal with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.

The 13th seed advances to his sixth ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, denying the Spaniard a landmark 100th trip to that stage at the Masters 1000 level. 

After going down an instant break in the final set, Shapovalov won the final five games as Nadal struggled with an apparent foot injury, likely related to his chronic left-foot problem. The one-sided finish belied the hard-fought nature of the contest to that point, with the first two sets seeing a combined 17 break points.

“I am living with an injury. My day by day is difficult,” Nadal said post-match. “I am trying hard but of course it’s difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can’t practise the proper way.

“Today it started halfway through the second set and it was unplayable for me. I don’t want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves… Today is for him.”

He later added: “I started playing the match much better… so I feel sad about that. A lot of positive things but when this happens the rest of the positive things disappear. It’s time to accept the situation and fight.”

Nadal indeed set the tone early in the match, bringing up three break points in his first return game before breaking twice later in the opening set. But despite the 6-1 scoreline, Shapovalov maintained his threat and was rewarded early in the second. He began to get the better of the punishing rallies that Nadal had edged in the opener and — after saving three break points in a seven-deuce opening service game — broke for 2-0 with more aggressive baseline play.

“I was just trying to change something,” Shapovalov said of that crucial phase. “He was completely outplaying me at the beginning of the match. Obviously the first set, the beginning of the second, I was just hanging in there. Definitely really happy to turn it around.”


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The Spaniard reeled off nine straight points to level at 4-4, but Shapovalov raised his game from there as Nadal began to struggle physically. After missing out on a set point on the return at 5-4, the Canadian cashed in to break for the set as Nadal tried to force a tie-break.

Nadal made one last charge as he broke to open the final set, but with his movement hampered, Shapovalov took full advantage to run away with the match — though he needed three match points as his opponent flashed his trademark fighting spirit one last time.

“Obviously I’m a huge fan of his, growing up,” Shapovalov said of the Spaniard. “I watched him play so many times. Growing up, I wanted to play and behave like him. So I definitely super look up to him and hopefully he’s fit for [Roland Garros].”

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Shapovalov, who this week rose to No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, improved to 2-4 against Nadal, picking up his first win in the ATP Head2Head since his breakout 2017 win in Montreal. The Canadian can reach as high as No. 11 by winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Rome.

He next faces fifth seed Casper Ruud, who’s rounding into form following a slow start to the European clay swing by his standards. The Norwegian reached the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000s in Monte Carlo and Madrid last season but has yet to reach that stage this year on the continent. 

Ruud won their only ATP Head2Head matchup to date, in the 2021 Geneva final.

“Casper is extremely difficult,” the Canadian previewed. “I’ve only played him one time and he got the better of me. He’s an opponent with almost no weaknesses so it’s going to be another challenging match for me.”

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Two Men & A Baby, 20 Missed Calls & A Rome Quarter-final

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Two Men & A Baby, 20 Missed Calls & A Rome Quarter-final speaks to the alternates about their rush to Rome

At 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, Harri Heliovaara woke up to his one-year-old daughter crying. The Finnish doubles player checked his phone and saw something jarring: 20 missed calls from his partner, Lloyd Glasspool.

That started a wild adventure that less than two days later has seen the pair defeat the best doubles team in the world and reach the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals on their ATP Masters 1000 team debut.

“My baby turned one-year-old that day and she gave me a birthday surprise by waking me up and giving me a chance to play the tournament,” Heliovaara told “I woke up, saw my phone and that I had like 20 calls from Lloyd. I knew something must have happened.”

The night before, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev withdrew from the doubles draw, opening a spot for an alternate team. At 10:30 that night, Glasspool learned there was a chance they could get in. But neither player was in Rome.

“I couldn’t contact Harri,” said Glasspool, who contacted his partner’s brother and wife to no avail. “His baby actually woke him up in the middle of the night at 2 a.m. his time. Then once I got a hold of him, we [decided] we were going to go and sign [in].

“I had a 6 a.m. flight. I actually missed my alarm and baggage check was closed by the time I could get there, so I just had to take two racquets, a pair of shoes, some match kit and jump on the plane.”

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Glasspool was in London and Heliovaara was in Helsinki, but they both booked flights to Rome. They went straight to the Foro Italico and signed in, and received the alternate spot. There was no time to go to the hotel or do anything else.

“He didn’t have any baggage, why would he go to the hotel?” Heliovaara said as they both cracked a laugh. “We were both prepared to fly home the same evening if we lost.”

“We didn’t know where anything was either. We had to go straight and warm up. We didn’t even know where the gym or the practice desk or anything, so it was pretty crazy,” Glasspool said. “But actually playing those guys for me was pretty comforting because one of them is British and I practise with him a lot, so it kind of eased all the pressure for me.”

Glasspool and Heliovaara stunned top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in straight sets. 

“I would say how we felt on the court was great. How it happened, that we could play with absolutely zero pressure, that’s something you want to get often,” Heliovaara said. “You can swing freely, you can do your best, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t really matter. We did really well on court.”

<a href=''>Harri Heliovaara</a> and <a href=''>Lloyd Glasspool</a>
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
There was little time to enjoy it, though. After the whirlwind of a morning, they had to reset for a second-round doubles match on Thursday.

“For me it’s actually been eye-opening a little bit, being able to play so freely… I was still so tired from the night before when I got one hour of sleep, I missed my alarm again. We had a car at 10 and I woke up at 10,” Glasspool said. “Normally I’d panic, but I was just like, ‘This is what’s happening this week. Just get there, you’ll practise fine.’ It’s taken a lot of pressure off. Everything doesn’t need to be perfect, so I will take that moving forward.”

The pair played a thriller against singles stars Thanasi Kokkinakis and Frances Tiafoe in front of a raucous crowd that was largely behind Kokkinakis and Tiafoe. The alternates triumphed 6-3, 3-6, 10-8.

“Now we felt the pressure. We were the doubles team playing two singles guys. They were pretty relaxed,” Glasspool said. “The pressure was back on us and the crowd was loud for them as well. It was kind of just back to business today, a bit more normal.”

Glasspool competed in his first Masters 1000 earlier this year in Miami alongside Michael Venus, while this is Heliovaara’s first Masters 1000. They had played two Grand Slams together, and compared the atmosphere to the majors.

“This feels actually a little bit similar to those events,” Heliovaara said. “There is a massive amount of people here watching the matches. We have women, men, everything. This is where we want to be.”

Glasspool only has the two match kits, racquets, shoes and string he carried onto the plane, and today Heliovaara is down to his last pair of socks. But that doesn’t matter now to last year’s Marseille champions, who reached the final in Montpellier and Dallas earlier this season. What does is that they will play John Isner and Diego Schwartzman for a place in the Rome semi-finals.

“Before we flew here I had four days off for a stag party of my friend. I practised once on Tuesday in Finland. Sometimes you just trust it,” Heliovaara said. “The skills are there, it doesn’t matter the preparation if you actually trust it and keep going without pressure.”

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Alcaraz's Reaction As El Palmar Welcomes Home Its Champion

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Alcaraz’s Reaction As El Palmar Welcomes Home Its Champion

Spaniard has returned to El Palmar, Murcia to be among his own

Carlos Alcaraz is only 19 years old, but he has become one of the most recognisable faces in the Region of Murcia. Even more so in his birth town, El Palmar. After winning his second ATP Masters 1000 title at the Mutua Madrid Open last Sunday, he returned home to a rapturous welcome.

The affection for the new No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in his hometown is mutually reciprocated. In the Manolo Santana Stadium, a few seconds after defeating Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final, he wrote a special dedication to it on a TV camera: “Viva El Palmar! Viva Murcia!”.

In this video shared on social media by 7 TV [public television in the Region of Murcia], the five-time tour-level titlist’s reaction when he greets his people can be seen. Without hesitation, he went out onto the balcony of his family home to show them the trophy and thank his lifetime neighbours for their support.

“Thank you! Thank you so much!”, he mouthed, before flashing his customary grin beside his smiling parents. Such is the excitement surrounding a young man who is a prophet in his own land and beyond.

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Ruthless Djokovic Ends Wawrinka's Comeback Run In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Ruthless Djokovic Ends Wawrinka’s Comeback Run In Rome

Serbian now leads Wawrinka 20-6 in their ATP Head2Head series

Novak Djokovic moved to within one win of retaining his World No. 1 status Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, overcoming Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-2 in chapter 26 of their long-running rivalry.

The Serbian, who must reach the semi-finals to stop Daniil Medvedev from climbing to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Monday, soaked up Wawrinka’s heavy ball-striking and pulled the former World No. 3 around to advance to the quarter-finals after 75 minutes.

Djokovic now leads Wawrinka 20-6 in their ATP Head2Head series, with their meeting in Rome their first since the Swiss star defeated the top seed at the US Open in 2019.

“It is great to see Stan back and winning. He won two tough matches. You can see he is still not physically where he wants to be. But nevertheless he is Stan Wawrinka and he can hurt you if you give him time,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I managed to do well from the beginning. I really moved him around the court and held my serve comfortably except for that loss of my serve in the second set.”

The 34-year-old will compete in his 89th ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final on Friday against Felix Auger-Aliassime after the eighth-seeded Canadian defeated American Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-2.

“I have known Felix for quite a few years,” Djokovic said. “He is established, a Top 10 player, so is right up there. He is as hard worker on the Tour that you see and he is a nice guy. His all-around game is improving. He is improving on clay. I know his game and what is expected.”

The World No. 1 has been building momentum over the past month following his second-round exit in Monte Carlo. The 86-time tour-level titlist enjoyed a run to the final in Belgrade before he reached the semi-finals at the Mutua Madrid Open last week.

Djokovic is trying to capture a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 crown in the Italian capital, where he is a five-time champion. His first title in Rome came in 2008, when he beat Wawrinka in the championship match.


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In front of a packed crowd on centre court, it was Djokovic who made the faster start as he quickly found his range on return to break immediately. The Serbian hugged the baseline throughout the set and successfully outmanoeuvred Wawrinka through a combination of precise groundstrokes and drop shots to lead after 31 minutes.

With his foot on the pedal, Djokovic continued to demonstrate great feel and power in the second set to frustrate Wawarinka. The 34-year-old returned aggressively as he read the Wawrinka serve well throughout, breaking three times in the second set to triumph.

Wawrinka earned his first tour-level win in 15 months when he defeated Reilly Opelka in his opening match in Rome, before he edged Laslo Djere to set up a meeting with Djokovic.

The 37-year-old, who was sidelined last season due to a foot injury, was aiming to reach his fourth quarter-final in Rome.

Did You Know?
Djokovic has reached at least the quarter-finals in all 16 of his appearances in Rome.

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First-Class Tsitsipas 'Upgrades' To Stop Khachanov

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

First-Class Tsitsipas ‘Upgrades’ To Stop Khachanov

Greek seeking second title of the season in Rome

Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from a slow start Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia as he raised his level and intensity to overcome Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 and reach the quarter-finals in Rome.

After losing the first set, the Greek won nine consecutive games as he turned the match around on Grand Stand Arena by finding more first serves and hitting his groundstrokes with greater consistency.

“It was a great, great match. I really upgraded my game in the second set,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “I was really able to follow through after every shot. I loosened up a little bit and concentrated on depth a little bit more.

“I hit great serves towards the end of the third set. I was able to stay calm on each serve and I was not rushing. I tried to visualise my patterns and it was a great last game.”

The fourth seed, who saved two match points against Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match, made just 52 per cent of his first serves in the opening set. However, he improved to 70 per cent in the second set and then 100 per cent in the decider, allowing him to dictate rallies and advance after one hour and 51 minutes.

“It hasn’t been easy the past two matches, but as long as I find my way, that is what matters the most,” Tsitsipas added.

With victory, Tsitsipas has improved his perfect ATP Head2Head series record against Khachanov to 5-0. The Greek has now climbed above Rafael Nadal to No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and will next play Italian Jannik Sinner or Filip Krajinovic in what will be his third quarter-final appearance in the Italian capital.

The 23-year-old is aiming to win his second title of the season in Rome, after he retained his trophy in Monte Carlo. Tsitsipas holds an 11-2 record in clay in 2022, having reached the semi-finals in Madrid last week.

Khachanov was seeking his maiden Top 10 win and first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final since he advanced to the last eight in Montreal in 2019.

Did You Know?
Tsitsipas has earned a tour-leading 29 victories this season, one more than second-placed Carlos Alcaraz (28).

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Sinner Reaches First Rome QF

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Sinner Reaches First Rome QF

Ruud battles past Brooksby

Jannik Sinner secured his best Rome result in his fourth appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a battling win over Filip Krajinovic on Thursday. The Italian was cruising toward a straightforward victory, up a set and a break on Centre Court, but was made to work for a 6-2, 7-6(6) result to advance to his first quarter-final at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Krajinovic was firmly on top in the second set after falling behind 0-2, but could not find a second break to complement his three love holds in the stanza. In the tie-break, Sinner surrendered a 4/1 lead but escaped in straight sets on his second match point.

The Italian advanced to his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final, a stage he’s twice reached at the Grand Slam level at Roland Garros in 2020 and this season at the Australian Open. His Rome run secured his fifth tour-level quarter-final of the season. If Sinner is to get beyond that stage for the first time this year, he’ll have to knock off Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday after the Greek downed Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Sinner dominated the opening set against Krajinovic, who was seeking his third Masters 1000 quarter-final, but the 10th seed’s struggles on first serve left the door open for Krajinovic in the second. The Serbian grew into the match after his first break and threatened throughout the second stanza with consistent, deep groundstrokes.

With the help of the Italian crowd, Sinner held on to force a tie-break without facing another break point, then capitalised on some untimely errors from the Serbian to advance in straights despite a sub-50 per cent first serve percentage in the set.

His quarter-final matchup against Tsitsipas will be the pair’s fifth ATP Head2Head meeting, with the Greek leading 3-1. They split second-round meetings in Rome in 2019 and 2020 before Tsitsipas dominated their more recent matchups in Barcelona last season and at the Aussie Open earlier this year.

After Sinner moved up to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings with his Rome run, he can rise to No. 11 by reaching the semis and as high as No. 7 with the title.

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On Pietrangeli, fifth seed Casper Ruud came through his first encounter with rising American Jenson Brooksby. The 2020 Rome semi-finalist is into his eighth Masters 1000 quarter-final after an entertaining 6-3, 6-4 victory.

The 21-year-old Brooksby, making his Rome debut, earned his first tour-level clay-court wins this week to reach the last 16 but fell short of what would have been his second-best win by the Pepperstone ATP Rankings against the Norwegian World No. 10. 

Ruud won the opening set on his fourth set point, saving two break points as he served it out. He did not face a break point in the second despite being pushed to 30/30 on three occasions. In the face of Brooksby’s unique shotmaking, the 23-year-old was able to control enough of the rallies to escape unscathed in one hour and 36 minutes. Ruud hit five aces and won 86 per cent (36/42) of his first-serve points in the contest.

Seeking his second title of the season after a Buenos Aires triumph in February, he now awaits the winner of the Centre Court evening matchup between defending champion Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov.

Ruud is rounding back into form after 4-4 start to the European clay swing prior to Rome, which included a 1-2 mark at the Masters 1000s in Monte Carlo and Madrid. He reached the semi-finals at both those events last season, compiling 11 clay victories leading into Rome, though he did not compete in the Italian capital.

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Zverev Downs De Minaur To Reach QFs In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2022

Zverev Downs De Minaur To Reach QFs In Rome

German next plays Cilic or Garin

Alexander Zverev earned his 100th ATP Masters 1000 win Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, moving past Australian Alex de Minaur 6-3 7-6(5) to reach the quarter-finals in Rome.

The German, who arrived in the Italian capital off the back of a run to the final at the Mutua Madrid Open, won 76 per cent (31/41) of his first-serve points and recovered from squandering a break advantage in the second set to eventually triumph after one hour and 50 minutes.

“My performance was better than yesterday. I managed to keep my focus,” Zverev said. “Alex is a great player and he is a great returner, so losing your serve here and there can happen. I need to work on serving out a little more. I tried to stay aggressive. I had to hit my shots quite hard against Alex and it worked out well today.”


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The World No. 3 is still aiming to capture his first title of the season, but has now won six of his past seven matches and will aim to improve that record when he plays Chilean Cristian Garin or Croatian Marin Cilic in the last eight. It is the fifth time Zverev has advanced to the quarter-finals at a tour-level event in 2022.

The five-time Masters 1000 champion is making his sixth appearance in the Italian Capital, with his best result at the clay-court tournament a run to the title in 2017.

With his victory, Zverev now leads de Minaur 6-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with this their first meeting on clay. The World No. 22 was trying to reach the quarter-finals at a Masters 1000 event for the first time, after defeating Dusan Lajovic and Tommy Paul earlier this week.

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