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Rafa Nadal Academy Hosts ATP Challenger Tour Event

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2022

Rafa Nadal Academy Hosts ATP Challenger Tour Event

Fourth edition of tournament in 2022

The ATP Challenger Tour takes over the world-class facilities at Rafael Nadal’s tennis academy in Mallorca, Spain for one week to host the Rafa Nadal Open by Sotheby’s.

The tournament site is on an island of tennis paradise. The academy is home to 26 tennis courts (hard and clay), multiple pools, an on-site hotel, a full service restaurant, squash courts, padel courts, a state-of-the-art gym, physio rooms, and the Rafa Nadal Museum.

The tournament’s facilities stand out to Challenger Tour players, including Belgian Zizou Bergs, who is seeded fourth at this week’s tournament.

“It’s my second time here, at the Rafa Nadal Academy. Honestly, I would pay money to be here,” Bergs said. “I see tourists coming in and I’m thinking how special it is to stay here and compete. They are here to see the museum in the day and come to watch you play tennis in the evening. Seeing all the facilities they have, it’s a privilege to be here. I think a lot of players think this way too.”

The world-class academy facilities stand out during the ATP Challenger Tour event.

Since the event began in 2018, Joan Suasi has been the tournament director. Though the work is hard, Suasi knows how vital hosting a Challenger at the Academy is.

“It’s the most important event of the academy,” Suasi said. “We put a lot of energy into it and are super happy to see that people are having such a good time.”

The week following the tournament, the annual and semester educational programs begin for players from 11 to 18-years-old. During the summer months, the academy holds a variety of summer camps. Despite the challenge of hosting the tournament during the first week of the US Open, Suasi claims it’s the perfect week for the academy.

“We have our annual school starting next week and we ended summer camps last week. Basically, we have this gap in between those weeks, which we use for our Challenger event. We need all the facilities to organise this event, including the hotel and the residences that we use to house staff. There’s a lot of people involved in the tournament so we need to be at full capacity.”

Some of the games’ best players have made their way to the Mallorca Challenger. In 2019, three-time major champion Andy Murray opted to play in his return from hip surgery. A large smile came across Suasi’s face as he recalled the day the former World No. 1 played in his backyard.

“I remember friends of mine were calling me the afternoon Andy was supposed to play, saying, ‘Is he really here? Is he really going to play the Challenger here?’”

Former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco made his tournament debut last year, when he reached the quarter-finals. Carlos Alcaraz, Bernard Tomic, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and Pablo Andujar are among others that have paid a visit to the event.

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Suasi takes pride in providing an enjoyable experience not just for the players, but also for the fans, including a focus on being family-friendly.

“It’s a free ticket so many people who come here can also go to the museum, which has reduced admission this week. The museum is where Rafa has all his trophies and there are also a lot of activities to do at the museum, including different simulators like Formula One, mountain biking, and skiing. It’s very nice because it’s very family oriented.”

The Rafa Nadal Academy opened in 2016 and when the tournament began two years later, the goal has always been to give back to the sport.

“The highlight for me is when I look around and see lots of people coming and having a good time. We are trying to give something back with this tournament, this is not our business. We are a tennis academy, our business is in something else. When somebody comes to me and says, ‘Thank you, you’re doing a good job, this is a great place to be.’ When I go to sleep, I’m proud of that.”

The academy invests in hosting a Challenger tournament because they recognise how vital the ATP Challenger Tour is to professional tennis. This year, academy graduates Abdullah Shelbayh and Daniel Rincon are among the field, providing them an opportunity to play in front of a home crowd.

“For us as an academy, it’s super big to have a Challenger… It’s the path you need to go through if you want to become one of the top players in this sport. The Challenger Tour puts a lot of effort in making the path easier and is always looking for the benefit of the player,” Suasi said.

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US Open Day 5 Preview: Berrettini & Murray Ready For Battle

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2022

US Open Day 5 Preview: Berrettini & Murray Ready For Battle

Medvedev continues title defence, Draper, Kyrgios & Ruud in action

Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray will meet in a blockbuster clash on Day Five at the US Open, where the top half of the draw will take to court in third-round action.

Reigning champion Daniil Medvedev will look to continue his title defence when he faces history-maker Wu Yibing, while #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper aims to build on his standout win against sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime when he plays Karen Khachanov. looks at five things to watch on Friday in New York.

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1) Berrettini & Murray Clash: Berrettini and Murray have tasted success at the hard-court major over the years. The Italian reached the semi-finals in 2019, while Murray lifted his maiden Grand Slam trophy at the event in 2012.

Both will be desperate to create more standout memories in Flushing Meadows over the next week. However, with the pair meeting in the opening match of the day on Arthur Ashe Stadium, only one will be able to continue their journey.

Murray backed up his first-round victory against Francisco Cerundolo by defeating American wild card Emilio Nava to reach the US Open third round for the first time since 2016. The former World No. 1 heads into his match against Berrettini trailing 1-2 in their ATP Head2Head series and expects it to be a difficult test.

“He’s been up at the top of the game for quite a number of years, and now he’s very consistent,” Murray said when asked about the Italian. “He’s a big server who puts down a pretty high percentage of serves usually, so always makes it difficult to break and is always in the match because of that. He’s not just a big server, though. He has a good slice backhand, he has a big forehand. I think he’s a very good competitor as well.”

The 13th seed Berrettini arrived in New York off disappointing first-round exits in Montreal and Cincinnati. The 26-year-old has started to find form, though, defeating Nicolas Jarry and Hugo Grenier in his first two matches. Berrettini holds a 14-4 record at the hard-court major, having reached the quarter-finals last year.

2) Medvedev’s Title Defence Mission: Medvedev has made a perfect start to his US Open title defence this week, cruising past Stefan Kozlov and Arthur Rinderknech in straight sets. The top seed, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the championship match last season, will look to improve his 22-4 record at the major when he faces history-maker Wu Yibing in the night session on Arthur Ashe stadium.

Prior to this week, no Chinese man had competed in the main draw at the US Open in the Open Era. Now they have a player in the third round after the 22-year-old became the first Chinese man to reach the third round at a Grand Slam since Kho Sin-Khie at Wimbledon in 1946.

With the odds stacked against him, Yibing will look to score a seismic upset against Medvedev, who is aiming to capture his second major title and second tour-level crown of the season after he triumphed in Los Cabos in August.

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3) Cachin & Draper Look To Continue Runs: Argentine Pedro Cachin dropped to the floor after he edged American qualifier Brandon Holt in a fifth-set tie-break to reach the third round at a major for the first time. The 27-year-old qualifier, who is 52-15 across all levels this year, rallied from two-sets-to-love down to advance on debut in New York. Cachin, currently up to No. 58 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, will look to carry his momentum into his match against Frenchman Corentin Moutet.

#NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper’s standout season hit new heights on Wednesday when he upset sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets. The 20-year-old, who is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, will next face Karen Khachanov as he aims to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time.

“I’ve watched [Khachanov] a fair bit. A tough competitor. He’s physical,” Draper said when looking ahead to the match. “It’s going to be a really tough match. He’s been inside of the top 50 for a long time now. So in a Grand Slam, it’s going to be a physical match again.”

4) Kyrgios & Ruud Take To Court: Following his second-round win against Benjamin Bonzi, Nick Kyrgios admitted his mentality has changed this season. The Australian, who reached the final at Wimbledon and holds a 33-9 record on the season, revealed he has tried to reinvent himself this year in an attempt to rise to the top of the game again.

So far, it is a strategy that has worked well for the 23rd seed and one he will look to continue when he plays American J.J. Wolf for the first time in the third round on Louis Armstrong Stadium. A victory for Kyrgios will see him reach the fourth round at the US Open for the first time.

Casper Ruud could leave New York as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if results go his way over the next week. The Norwegian, who has never been beyond the third round in five previous appearances at the US Open, rallied past Tim Van Rijthoven in the second round and will now take on 29th seed Tommy Paul. The American eliminated countryman Sebastian Korda to reach the last 32.

5) Ram/Salisbury Headline Doubles Action: Last year’s champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury will look to capture their sixth consecutive win when they face Aslan Karatsev and Luke Saville in the second round. The American-British team lifted their third ATP Masters 1000 trophy as a team in Cincinnati last month, before they cruised past Federico Coria and Cristian Rodriguez in their opening match in New York.

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski became the first team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals following their first-round win in Flushing Meadows. The second seeds will play Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow, while third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer will face Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.

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Nadal Bloodied, But Not Beaten At US Open

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2022

Nadal Bloodied, But Not Beaten At US Open

Spaniard overcomes freak accident to defeat Fognini

Rafael Nadal was left bloodied but unbeaten after a freak accident late in his four-set win over Fabio Fognini at the US Open Thursday night.

Seeking a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title, Nadal was cruising towards a comfortable win when he stretched for a wide backhand. His racquet rebounded off the court and onto the bridge of his nose, immediately drawing blood and prompting the Spaniard to walk back to his chair and lay down.

“[It] was just a strong hit. At the beginning I thought I [broke] the nose because it was a shock at the beginning. Was very painful. I lost little bit the… feeling of my head. It’s about being a little bit out of the world,” Nadal said. “I don’t know, seems like it’s not [broken]. I am not sure yet. I don’t know. I think it’s getting bigger and bigger.

“That’s just a shock some way I deserved to play that bad for a while. No, it’s [a joke]. [These are] things that happen sometimes.”

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After having a physio apply tape to his nose, Nadal returned to the court a few minutes later to close out the 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

It was a dramatic moment in a dramatic match between the longtime rivals. Fognini led by a set and moved ahead by a break on three occasions in the second set before Nadal found his game to surge ahead. The Spaniard will play former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet on Saturday.

“I am practising much, much better than what I am playing. That’s a positive thing. Then I need to make that happen in the matches. It’s something that is not easy. But I’m making a step forward,” Nadal said. “I think at the end of the match today I played better than in the first round without a doubt, too. It’s an improvement. Two matches already. Two victories. That helps. Now another opportunity against Richard.”

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With his victory, Nadal qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the 17th time. The lefty is the first singles player to earn his spot at the Pala Alpitour from 13-20 November. Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski qualified in doubles on Wednesday.

The 22-time major winner significantly reduced his mistakes to remain in the second set despite the deficit he faced. That paid dividends when Fognini’s level dipped, completely changing the momentum of the match.

“I stayed there. I was positive. Even if the disaster was huge, I was not too frustrated,” Nadal said. “Just accepted the situation, stayed humble enough that [I didn’t] consider myself too good to not accept a lot of mistakes.”

Nadal won 17 of the set’s final 21 points to level the clash and from there he surged through the final two sets. The only hiccup came when the freak accident occurred at 3-0 in the fourth set. However, that did not prevent Nadal from powering to the finish line behind nine service breaks. 

“I was [a] little bit in shock. I knew that when I came back on court I [was] going to be in trouble for a while,” Nadal said. “But I needed to save that [service game]… I had a couple of good serves and a good passing shot with the backhand. I won the game.

“Tennis is a lot about moments. The most important thing in this game is when you are playing bad or when the opponent is playing too good, don’t be too far on the score.”

Nadal was well aware of the threat Fognini posed, having let slip a two-set advantage against the Italian in the third round of the US Open in 2015. But despite the slow start, he managed to weather his opponent’s serve. The former Top 10 star’s 60 unforced errors proved his undoing.

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Murray & Soares Continue Quest For Second US Open Title

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2022

Murray & Soares Continue Quest For Second US Open Title

Sixth seeds Mektic and Pavic also advance

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares cruised through their opening match at the US Open Thursday, defeating Americans Hunter Reese and Max Schnur 6-3, 6-3. Needing just one hour, 13 minutes to seal the victory, Murray and Soares won 24/32 points off their first delivery to advance.

The 10th seeds have fond memories at Flushing Meadows. In 2016, the duo claimed its second Grand Slam title when they triumphed in New York. The pair will next meet Poland’s Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski in the second round. Murray paired with Australian Matthew Ebden in Winston-Salem this past week to defeat the Polish duo in the championship match.

Sixth seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic also produced a strong first-round performance, ousting home favourites Brandon Holt and Govind Nanda 6-3, 6-4. The four-time titlists in 2022 face American teenagers Ethan Quinn and Nicholas Godsick in the second round.

Two seeded duos were upset in Thursday afternoon’s action. Italians Lorenzo Sonego and Andrea Vavassori upset ninth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop 7-6(2), 6-2, while Wimbledon champions Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden ousted 14th seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 7-6(7), 6-7(8), 6-1.

Both pairs will meet American duos in the second round. Sonego and Vavassori will meet Christopher Eubanks and Ben Shelton, while the Australian duo Purcell and Ebden face Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson.

Among other doubles results Thursday, seventh seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek advanced, as did 2019 US Open champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

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