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Toni Nadal’s New ‘Challenge’: Coaching Felix Auger-Aliassime

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2021

Toni Nadal is back on the ATP Tour with Felix Auger-Aliassime. The No. 22 in the FedEx ATP Ranking, his coach Frederic Fontang and Toni himself made the announcement during a Zoom conversation on Thursday with journalists. “We’re calling you to announce that I’ll be working with Toni Nadal, starting from this tournament [Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters],” revealed the Canadian before answering some questions.

“We had the chance to work also together with him and Fred, and the rest of my team in Mallorca in December. But officially we are starting our relationship and our partnership. So far it’s been going really well,” added Auger-Aliassime, who will be playing his first clay match of the year in Monte-Carlo.

ATP caught up with Nadal and Auger-Aliassime ahead of Monte-Carlo to discuss their new partnership and expectations – as well as what would happen should the Canadian take on Rafael Nadal.

Why did you decide to add Toni Nadal to your team?
Felix Auger-Aliassime: At the end of last year, I sat down with Fred, the rest of my team, my parents… I told myself that it would be good to go to somebody who has been at the highest level of our sport. Someone who has been to where I want to go one day. We approached Toni with the possibility to come to Mallorca to meet him, to train and to discuss, so we did.

And what convinced you to take on the challenge of coaching Felix?
Toni Nadal: I’d already had a chat with him quite a while ago and he left a good impression on me. Also through my nephew, everyone has always had nice things to say about him. When the idea of working together was put to me, I told him to come to the Academy in 10 days so that we could get to know each other and to see whether what I had to say to him would be of use.

And you decided to try it out…
Nadal: I’m still the director of the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, and of course I’ve worked with my nephew – I’m his uncle and I hadn’t considered being with another player. Knowing that I have the chance as director of the Academy to work with a player with huge potential is a challenge to me and, in particular, it gives me satisfaction. It’s a challenge for everyone.

How have the first days of coaching gone?
Auger-Aliassime: From the first practice, the work was great. The first thing is the respect, the honesty and the trust. For me, [those] are very important values that Toni tries to bring to the table. It matches and works with which I believe in. For me, they are simple things, but simple things that are not always easy to do. But are very important.

The consistency of my work, the precision of my work, the intensity that I’m gonna put and if I can repeat that at a very high level, I believe good things could happen. The great words that Toni has told me from the first time we were together with him and with Fred and I think it brings great things to me. I really like him as a person, so that’s a great thing.

What was the most notable thing for you?
Nadal: I wouldn’t be able to work with someone who wasn’t respectful, who had no values, because I’ve been lucky enough to work for my entire life with a boy who has always been respectful and has earned himself a good name. I aspire to that. I was delighted the moment they put the idea to me. Let’s not beat about the bush, this is a kid who theoretically should be among the best in the world in years to come. It’s always nice to work with someone like that.

Felix Auger-Aliassime

How will you work together?
Auger-Aliassime: Toni will be on the major tournaments, the Grand Slams and a couple of other big tournaments on the calendar. He’s giving advice, experience, but just working on the day-to-day to become a better player. It’s not like there is a secret tool or a single recipe where you click your fingers and things work. But we are at the start of working together and building something solid and neat becoming a better player overall. I think that’s what I want to do to reach the highest levels of tennis.

Do you remember the first time you saw Felix play?
Nadal: When I saw him play for the first time, we said to Rafael ‘this kid is going to be very good’. And I think that he should aspire to that. He left me with a feeling that he was a great player. I saw him in a Challenger event against Jaume Munar, a player from our Academy, and I thought, ‘What a player!’ He was 16, but you could already see that he would be one of the best in the world. Now he has to work to confirm it and to become that.

The competition is tough.
Nadal: At the moment we’re in an era of tennis with some very good players. Felix will have to compete in the coming years with players like [Daniil] Medvedev, [Alexander] Zverev, [Dominic] Thiem, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, and other players coming through like [Jannik] Sinner and I guess [Carlos] Alcaraz too. The competition will be tough, but I believe he’ll be there.

The situation you’re describing is similar to what Rafael went through when he was starting out.
Yes, it was a tough panorama with a lot of young quality players such as [Roger] Federer, [Andy] Roddick, [Lleyton] Hewitt, [Guillermo] Coria, [David] Nalbandian, [Juan Carlos] Ferrero, [Marat] Safin… They were all young and it looked like it would be very difficult to be at the top. We knew that we had to prepare in order to compete with players like that. I believe Felix has to do the same.

Having won practically everything as Rafael’s coach, why have you decided to return to the Tour?
Nadal: I’ve always liked tennis. I’m motivated by the process of trying to progress at what you enjoy, and I’m motivated by knowing that I’m working with a great person, with a player with great potential. That’s the challenge. I’m delighted on a personal and professional level to be able to work with a person like him and with a team as great as his.

What will happen when Felix has to face Rafael?
Nadal: I’m Rafael Nadal’s uncle and director of his Academy. But, above all, I have a special affection for my nephew. If he has to lose to someone, then let it be Felix. Forgetting that I’m his uncle, I’ve been linked to him for many years and the day they eventually play, I won’t be in either box out of respect to them both.

I am very interested in Felix doing as well as possible and hopefully in the future he can be World No. 1. I’m in no doubt. At the moment he has to improve, and I am still Rafael’s uncle.

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Munar Moves Past Fognini In Marbella

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2021

Jaume Munar claimed his first Top 20 victory of the year in style, dropping just three games against second seed Fabio Fognini on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open.

Munar looked right at home for an hour and 24 minutes on Estadio Manolo Santana, where he reached the final here in Marbella at the ATP Challenger Tour event last week. The Spaniard broke Fognini’s serve on six occasions from 16 break opportunities on his way to a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

The No.95 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings arrived in Spain after a strong run in South America. He reached the quarter-finals at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires from qualifying, and backed it up with a final in doubles at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago (w/ Delbonis).

By contrast, his opponent Fognini was contesting his first clay court match of the year in Marbella ahead of his Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title defense. It took a few games for Fognini to find his range in the opening set, but by then he was already down a double break and trailing 5-1. The Italian was unable to recover, and won only one more game as Munar stormed through the second set.


Munar will take on Ilya Ivashka in the quarter-finals, after the Belarusian scored an upset of his own over fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-1, 6-3. Ivashka, No. 115 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, fired six aces and saved all nine break points he faced to take down the Spaniard and reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final of the year.

Also in action, third seed Casper Ruud booked his own quarter-final spot after a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Gianluca Mager. He awaits the winner of sixth seed Feliciano Lopez and #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. 

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Musetti Saves 4 M.P. In Evans Thriller

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2021

Lorenzo Musetti may be the youngest player in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, but he showed great composure under pressure to eliminate top seed Daniel Evans 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(8) on Thursday at the Sardegna Open.

The #NextGenATP Italian saved four match points in a final-set tie-break — at 3/6 and 7/8 — to overcome Evans in two hours and 10 minutes. Musetti struck two winners, including a precise forehand drop shot at 5/6, and fired an unreturned serve to save three of the four match points he faced. Musetti converted his second match point with another forehand drop shot winner.

“It was really tough. I was 3/6 down in the tie-break and he was playing good, always going to the net and always aggressive,” said Musetti. “I tried to stay calm and tried to play each point. That is what I did and it worked, so I am really happy and really proud of myself with this win.”


Musetti owns 12 tour-level victories, and seven of those wins have come against Top 35 players. The 19-year-old is one win away from reaching his third ATP Tour semi-final, following his runs to the final four at last year’s Forte Village Sardegna Open and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in March.

“The secret for me is not to think about [their Top 35 Ranking], to just play them like other opponents,” said Musetti. “I try to play my game… and try to play as good as I can. That is what I did. With them, I always play good. I don’t know why. I have no pressure and I feel free. I have no pressure to win and today was the same.”

The World No. 90, who is competing at a career high in the FedEx ATP Rankings this week, will meet Laslo Djere in the semi-finals. The Serbian broke sixth seed John Millman’s serve on four occasions to record a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Djere handed Musetti his only tour-level loss in Sardinia (5-1), when the pair met in the 2020 Forte Village Sardegna Open semi-finals.

In the opening match of the day on Campo Centrale, Yannick Hanfmann saved both break points he faced to beat 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 6-1. The German will face another Italian, Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 35 minutes.

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Roland-Garros Postponed One Week

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2021

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced Thursday that Roland-Garros will be pushed back one week due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now be played from 30 May through 13 June.

Last year, the clay-court Grand Slam was moved from its traditional dates to 27 September-11 October because of the pandemic.

The ATP and WTA released a joint statement on the tournament’s one-week postponement:

“Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case. The decision to delay the start of Roland-Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID-19 restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.

“Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments and fans in the lead up to and following Roland-Garros. Further updates will be communicated in due course.”

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Brkic/Cacic Upset Second Seeds In Marbella

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2021

Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic upset second seeds Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald 4-6, 7-6(5), 11-9 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open in Marbella.

Brkic and Cacic won their first ATP Tour title together earlier this year in Buenos Aires, and they are now two wins from a second trophy as a team. Daniell and Oswald had a match point at 9/8 in the Match Tie-break, but they were unable to convert.

There were two more doubles matches in Spain on Wednesday. Third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop beat Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski 6-4, 7-6(2) to make the quarter-finals, and Andre Goransson and Nicholas Monroe ousted Alexander Bublik and Dominic Inglot 6-3, 1-6, 12-10 to advance to the last eight.


Sonego/Vavassori Make the Cagliari Semis
Lorenzo Sonego and Andrea Vavassori won an all-Italian battle at the Sardegna Open, eliminating Andrea Pellegrino and Giulio Zeppieri 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.

In Round of 16 clashes, Treat Huey and Frederik Nielsen ousted third seeds Matthew Ebden and Divij Sharan 6-1, 6-4 and Federico Coria and Daniel Evans defeated Harri Heliovaara and Denys Molchanov 6-4, 2-6, 10-6.

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Carreno Busta Begins Chase For First Title At Home In Marbella

  • Posted: Apr 07, 2021

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta made a good start towards claiming his first ATP Tour title on home soil Wednesday when he defeated countryman Mario Vilella Martinez 7-6(2), 6-3 in one hour and 38 minutes to reach the quarter-finals of the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open.

The top seed saved the two break points he faced and won 73 per cent of his first-serve points to triumph against the qualifier. Carreno Busta has lifted four tour-level trophies in his career, and the World No. 15 is trying to add a fifth to his collection this week in Marbella.

The 29-year-old will next face seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon, who swept past Facundo Bagnis of Argentina 6-1, 6-3. The South Korean began the week without a tour-level win on clay, but he has now strung together two consecutive victories to reach the last eight.


Fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas booked his place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in two hours and 12 minutes. It was the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting for nine years (2012 Stockholm).

The 33-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, who advanced to his ninth ATP Tour final at the Cordoba Open (l. to Cerundolo) in February, will now play Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos. 

Gombos dug deep to record only his second match win of the season over three hours and 20 minutes. The World No. 99 advanced to his fourth ATP Tour quarter-final with a 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-6(1) victory over eighth-seeded Argentine Federico Delbonis. Gombos won the first three games of both the first and third sets, only to see Delbonis fight back.

Did You Know?
Top-seeded Carreno Busta won his only previous ATP Tour title on clay in Estoril, where he was also the No. 1 seed, in 2017.

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Food Court: Berrettini Dishes On Sardinian Cuisine, His Guilty Pleasures & More

  • Posted: Apr 07, 2021

It’s not often players get to enjoy food tastings at tennis tournaments, but that’s what Matteo Berrettini and his younger brother, Jacopo Berrettini, did Monday evening.

The doubles wild cards, who won their first-round match on Tuesday, had a special meal prepared by the chef of “Circolo dei buoni e cattivi”, the Tennis Club Cagliari’s restaurant.

The Roman brothers began with local cheese and sausage served with typical Sardinian ‘Carasau’ bread, before enjoying homemade pasta with tomato sauce and pecorino cheese. For the main course, they had lamb with artichokes. The Berrettini brothers passed on a dessert of pancakes with orange flavour.

The Italians feasted under the watchful eye of their mother, Claudia, who assured those there that her sons know how to prepare a decent meal, adding that Jacopo has been interested in cooking since an early age. spoke to Matteo about the food he enjoys, how he alters his diet during tournaments and more.

Matteo Berrettini, Jacopo Berrettini
Photo Credit: Giampiero Sposito
How much did you enjoy the Sardinian food and what did did you like the best?
Yeah, [I liked it] a lot. It was a really nice experience, especially during these lockdown times. We cannot go to restaurants and stuff, so it was nice to have really nice food. I love Sardinia, I have been coming here since I was a kid. It was nice and reminds me of good times with my brother when we were young.

How much do you change your diet during a tournament and before matches?
I try to eat more clean, more white rice, chicken, not heavy stuff, even though I can eat a lot. But sometimes you have to balance also the mental part, because it’s important to feel happy about what you’re having and what you like to eat. But for sure before the matches, you have to be careful and eat pretty clean.

What are some foods you love that you know you cannot always eat because of tennis and how tough is it to adjust to not enjoying them as much if at all?
I love burgers. Normally when I lose, I have burgers, because it’s the first time I can have it during the week. But I’m a great lover of obviously pasta and pizza and they’re not that bad for the diet when you have to play, especially to recover.

It’s some carbs and it’s important to have fat, carbs and protein, so you have to mix it up a little bit. It’s not that tough. I can handle it and luckily I’m a big guy, so I can take a lot of food.

Besides Italy, what’s the best city on Tour for food and what is your favourite dish there?
I would say I really like Spain. It’s similar to the Italian kitchen, but it’s a little bit different. I like its Mediterranean. I like the Jamon Serrano, I like how they do stuff with fish, so I like Spain and maybe it’s that the weather is similar to Italy, but I really like the food there.

Did You Know?
The club restaurant, which is also serving as the player restaurant this week, partakes in a project that gives back to the community by providing job opportunities to people with light handicaps or a challenging past.

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Nadal, Djokovic Headline At Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters: What You Need To Know

  • Posted: Apr 07, 2021

The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters is the first of three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments played on clay. Held at the picturesque Monte-Carlo Country Club, the event has a long tradition of great champions, led by Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who has won 11 titles at the event, including an Open Era record eight straight between 2005-2012.

Nadal will open his 2021 clay-court campaign in Monte-Carlo, and is joined in the field by past champions Novak Djokovic (2013 & 2015) and Fabio Fognini (2019), and the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev.

Here’s all you need to know about Monte-Carlo tennis tournament: when is the draw, what is the schedule, where to watch, who won and more. 

Established: 1897

Tournament Dates: 11-18 April 2021

Tournament Director: Zeljko Franulovic

Draw Ceremony: Friday, 9 April, 6:30pm at Monte Carlo Bay

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Schedule (View On Official Website)
* Qualifying: 10-11 April from 11am
* Main draw: Sunday, 11 April – Saturday, 17 April from 11am, Sunday, 18 April at 12 noon
* Doubles final: Sunday, 18 April at 12 noon
* Singles final: Sunday, 18 April at 2:30pm 

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV 
View TV Schedule

Venue: Monte-Carlo Country Club
Surface: Clay

Prize Money: € 2,082,960 (Total Financial Commitment: € 2,460,585)  

Tickets On Sale: Buy Now

View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown

Honour Roll (Open Era)
Most Titles, Singles: Rafael Nadal (11)
Most Titles, Doubles:
Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan (6)
Oldest Champion: Nicola Pietrangeli, 34, in 1968
Youngest Champion: Mats Wilander, 18, in 1983
Highest-Ranked Champion (since 1979): No. 1 Bjorn Borg in 1979-80, Ivan Lendl in 1988, Rafael Nadal in 2009, ’11 & ‘18, Novak Djokovic in 2013 & ‘15
Lowest-Ranked Champion (since 1979)
: No. 49 Andrew Pattison in 1974
Most Match Wins: Rafael Nadal (71)

2019 Finals
Singles: [13] Fabio Fognini (ITA) d Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 63 64   Read & Watch
Doubles: [7] Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Franko Skugor (CRO) d Robin Haase (NED) / Wesley Koolhof (NED) 67(3) 76(3) 11-9  Read & Watch 

Hashtag: #rolexmcmasters
Facebook: @rolexmcmasters
Instagram: @rolexmontecarlomasters

Did You Know…  The annual Player Revue takes place during the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Stars of the ATP Tour set aside their inhibitions to entertain their friends, family and fellow players in a series of sketches, poking good-humoured fun at life on tour and showing off their singing and dancing talents. Unfortunately, in 2021, due to COVID-19, the Player Revue will not take place. Take a look back at past Player Revues: 2018 | 2017 | 2016

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