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Dimitrov's Distress: Tooth Pain, Rafa Blowout

  • Posted: Apr 15, 2021

Grigor Dimitrov was in a world of pain during his 6-1, 6-1 loss to Rafael Nadal on Thursday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and it wasn’t just because of the lopsided scoreline. Challenging Nadal on clay is a daunting enough task in perfect health, let alone with a nagging toothache. 

“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days. I have like a big infection of my tooth,” Dimitrov said. “It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that. It’s time to put an end to it.”

Tooth pain can grind you down both mentally and physically, just like Nadal’s relentless baseline game with which he hit 17 winners. The World No. 3 said he felt sorry for Dimitrov for playing “a bad match”.

“He was playing too aggressive and little bit out of rhythm,” Nadal said. “Sorry for him. I wish him all the best.”

At least Dimitrov’s work day was mercifully short, lasting just 55 minutes.

“I was bearing it for a while this whole week,” Dimitrov said. “Straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately. Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is. At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil, at home, so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.”

Heading into the third-round encounter, the World No. 17-ranked Bulgarian had a lot going against him already: Nadal is an 11-time champion in Monte-Carlo and had beaten Dimitrov in 13 of 14 meetings (he’s now 14-1 in their ATP Head2Head Series). 

“I don’t [think] there was a match to be played today,” Dimitrov said. “He is who he is on the clay. If you don’t do the necessary things against him, then obviously you don’t stand a chance.”

Nadal faces the winner of Andrey Rublev and Roberto Bautista Agut next. 

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Clinical Nadal Dismisses Dimitrov In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 15, 2021

No. 14 seed Grigor Dimitrov might be a resident of Monte-Carlo, but on Thursday it was Rafael Nadal who continued to make himself right at home in the Principality. The 11-time champion was in imperious form against Dimitrov as he dropped just two games on his way to the quarter-finals. 

Nadal needed just 55 minutes to score a 6-1, 6-1 victory and extend his ATP Head2Head dominance over the Bulgarian to 14-1 (4-0 in Monte-Carlo). The Spaniard didn’t face a break point in either set and fired 17 winners to close out the victory.

“[I am] sorry for him. He played a bad match. That is the truth,” Nadal said in his post match interview. “He made a lot of mistakes. I was there. I was doing the right thing, but it is true that today was more his fault than my good tennis.”

Three double faults from Dimitrov in his opening service game set the tone for the match early on, as the Bulgarian quickly surrendered the first of four breaks to Nadal. Dimitrov found himself unable to make up the lost ground as the third seed got going.

The Spaniard targeted Dimitrov’s one-handed backhand to great success, and piled on the pressure every time his opponent stepped up to serve. As a result Nadal broke Dimitrov four times during the match, opening both sets with daunting double-break 4-0 leads.

“I think I did the right preparation. I felt ready for action again. I am excited to play here in one of my favourite tournaments, without a doubt,” Nadal said. “[I am] happy to enjoy the competition again, to enjoy the Tour. In Mallorca, I had some good practices. Let’s see. Tomorrow [will be] another tough match. I hope to be ready for it.”

Back into the last eight at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the 16th consecutive time, Nadal will next face sixth seed Andrey Rublev, who booked his first quarter-final berth in the Principality with a hard-fought 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut. Nadal owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over the Russian, with both victories coming on hard courts.

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Tsitsipas Makes Monte-Carlo Breakthrough, Plays Davidovich Fokina In QFs

  • Posted: Apr 15, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas achieved his best result at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday when he overcame Santiago champion Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first quarter-final in the Principality.

Tsitsipas fired 17 forehand winners and won 75 per cent of his net points (15/20) to reach the last eight in one hour and 40 minutes. The fourth seed, who is chasing his first title of the season, improved to 19-5 in 2021 with his second win in as many ATP Head2Head meetings against Garin. Only Andrey Rublev has claimed more wins this year (21).

“It was a really difficult task to complete. Cristian played good tennis and gave me a hard time out on the court,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match interview. “I stayed composed and focused throughout the entire match.

“Things seemed not to be going my way towards the end of the second set, but I stepped back and left my mark. Things worked out well. I was fighting [and] I was putting my best performance out there. I was creating a lot of opportunities with my forehand and I think my serve paid off pretty well.”

Tsitsipas has now reached the quarter-finals or better at all three clay-court ATP Masters 1000 events. The Greek achieved his best Masters 1000 results on clay in 2019, when he reached the Mutua Madrid Open championship match (l. to Djokovic) and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals (l. to Nadal).

The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for a place in the semi-finals. The Spaniard continued his fine run in Monte-Carlo with a 6-2, 7-6(2) win against French wild card Lucas Pouille. Tsitsipas and Davidovich Fokina have not previously met at tour-level.

“[Alejandro] is someone who is just rising, he is young and has been playing good tennis,” Tsitsipas said. “I don’t know him very well, but he is a Spaniard. I feel like he has played on clay before, plenty of matches. He knows the surface pretty well, so he is going to be a challenge for me.”

The first set was decided by a marathon 15-minute game at 4-3. Tsitsipas returned with depth, attacked Garin’s forehand and finished points at the net to make the crucial breakthrough.

The 22-year-old carried his momentum into the second set to gain an immediate break. Tsitsipas extracted multiple backhand errors from Garin to take an early lead and, after trading breaks late in the set, he converted his first match point with a powerful overhead at the net.

Garin was attempting to reach his second Masters 1000 quarter-final. The 2019 Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finalist defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime and John Millman in straight sets to reach the third round at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on his tournament debut.

Davidovich Fokina, who is currently at a career-high No. 51 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. He defeated World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini for the biggest win of his career earlier in the week.

Did You Know?
Tsitsipas has reached the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive events, dating back to his semi-final run at the Australian Open in February.

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Take The Nadal Monte-Carlo Challenge

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2021

It’s common knowledge that Rafael Nadal is the Master of Monte-Carlo. The Spaniard, who made his tournament debut as a 16-year-old in 2003, has won a record 11 titles in the Principality. 

But do you recall who Nadal has beaten in those championship matches at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters? Eight different players are among the Spaniard’s victims, including one he denied in three straight finals from 2006-08.

See how many of those beaten finalists you remember. Take the Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo Challenge and share your results!

Click here to stay informed all year with tennis news from the ATP Tour

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Thursday Preview: Tsitsipas To Take On Garin In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas will kick off Thursday’s third-round action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a challenging matchup against Cristian Garin. 

Garin just won his fifth ATP Tour title last month, in front of a home crowd at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago. All five of the World No. 24’s trophies have come on clay. Tsitsipas also holds five ATP titles: one on clay and four on indoor hard courts. 

Garin opened his Monte-Carlo campaign by ousting Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets, and he eased past John Millman on Wednesday. Tsitsipas had a day off after taking out Aslan Karatsev on Tuesday. The 22-year-old Greek will have his work cut out for him but he has been embracing the surface switch after a quarter-final run on the hard courts of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“I’ve practised a lot of days on clay,” the World No. 5 said. “I’ve been feeling well. My body is in good shape. Currently I feel like I’m working a lot on my physicality when I play friendly matches on clay. I think that’s going to be the most important aspect in my game during the clay-court season.”

The fourth seed beat Garin in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting last year on clay in Hamburg in three sets.

Following Tsitsipas and Garin on the main court will be Novak Djokovic taking on Daniel Evans. It’s set to be the World No 1’s first time facing off against the 30-year-old Brit, after beating another first-time opponent, Jannik Sinner, in his opening match on Wednesday.

“I think ‘solid’ is a good word to describe the performance,” Djokovic said. “Obviously I know I can always do better. I’m working towards playing even on a higher level than I did today.”

Third seed Rafael Nadal sits on the opposite half of the draw to his Serbian rival and he will see a familiar opponent across the net in Grigor Dimitrov. The Spaniard holds a 13-1 ATP Head2Head lead against Dimitrov with three of those wins coming in Monte-Carlo. Dimitrov hasn’t won a set off of Nadal since 2017.

“He’s a good friend, a good guy, and a great player,” Nadal said. “Going to be a tough test in my second round. Going to be his third. I need to be ready for it. I hope to be ready for it. I am just excited to play a tough match very early in the tournament.”

Sixth seed Andrey Rublev will have his hands full against ninth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. Bautista Agut leads their ATP Head2Head career record, 3-2 and topped the Russian in Doha in straight sets earlier this year.

Elsewhere, Alexander Zverev and David Goffin will put on a show inside Court Des Princes, as will Fabio Fognini when he steps onto the same court against Filip Krajinovic.

Watch Live | View TV Schedule 


COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
[4] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [16] C. Garin (CHI)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs D. Evans (GBR)
[14] G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs [3] R. Nadal (ESP)
[6] A. Rublev (RUS) vs [9] R. Bautista Agut (ESP)

COURT DES PRINCES start 11:00 am
[WC] L. Pouille (FRA) vs A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[11] D. Goffin (BEL) vs [5] A. Zverev (GER)
[15] F. Fognini (ITA) vs F. Krajinovic (SRB)
C. Ruud (NOR) vs [12] P. Carreno Busta (ESP)

COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
[1] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / H. Hurkacz (POL)
[Alt] A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (ECU) vs [2] N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)
After Suitable Rest – [3] I. Dodig (CRO) / F. Polasek (SVK) vs D. Evans (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR)

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Klaasen/McLachlan Book Quarter-final Spot

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2021

Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan closed Wednesday play at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a 6-7(1), 6-3, 10-5 victory against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

The South African-Japanese duo saved seven of the nine break points they faced to move past the Australian Open finalists in one hour and 42 minutes on Court des Princes. Klaasen and McLachlan, who are chasing their first title of the season in Monte-Carlo, will next meet Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek or Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski for a semi-final spot.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos took just 59 minutes to overcome Russians Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-1 on Court 2. Last year’s Rome champions won 74 per cent of their service points (32/43) to set up a quarter-final clash against Cristian Garin and Guido Pella.

Garin and Pella moved past Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in 67 minutes. The unseeded duo dropped serve just once en route to victory, despite facing 11 break points.

Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman recovered from a slow start to eliminate sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 1-6, 6-4, 10-7. Fognini and Schwartzman trailed by a set and a break, and also found themselves 3/6 down in the Match Tie-break, but they claimed seven of the final eight points for a quarter-final spot.

The Italian-Argentine pair will meet top seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah or last year’s Rolex Paris Masters champions Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight.

Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut’s kept alive their bid for a second title in the Principality. The 2016 champions battled past Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(3), 7-5.

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Zverev Passes Sonego Test In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2021

German Alexander Zverev passed a tough test with flying colours on Wednesday, defeating Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Sonego entered the pair’s first ATP Head2Head clash with plenty of confidence after winning the Sardegna Open title last week to climb to a career-high No. 28 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But Zverev put pressure on the 25-year-old from the early going to advance after one hour and 38 minutes.

The three-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, who reached the Monte-Carlo semi-finals in 2018, now has 10 victories this season. Zverev claimed a title for the sixth consecutive year when he lifted the trophy in Acapulco.

Although it wasn’t a perfect performance — the fifth seed relinquished two service breaks — Zverev did well to frustrate his Italian opponent. The 23-year-old put many returns deep in the court to neutralise Sonego’s advantage and ability to play first-strike tennis, forcing the Italian to go for more than he wanted. That led to unforced errors, giving Zverev the advantage in the match.


The World No. 6 will next play David Goffin, who cruised past 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-0 in 64 minutes.

Zverev leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but all three of those matches have gone to a deciding set. Their most recent clash came in Halle two years ago on grass.

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Nadal Grades His Performance: ‘Nothing Unbelievable, But Nothing Wrong’

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2021

Rafael Nadal was in form to begin his clay-court season on Wednesday, dismissing fellow lefty Federico Delbonis to reach the third round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But for the 34-year-old, it was just another day at the office.

“It was solid match, I think. Of course, a very positive result. He’s a good player on clay. [It was a] positive start for me,” Nadal said. “I think I just really played a solid match. Nothing unbelievable, but nothing wrong. Just a solid match, a positive start. I think I did what I had to do today.”

Nadal is now 72-5 at this ATP Masters 1000 event. Typically, players wait nearly a full year to return to clay after Roland Garros. But the Spaniard claimed his record-extending 12th trophy in Paris just six months ago, as the clay-court major was moved to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly, I just played two tournaments on clay [last year]. That’s the truth. I never felt last year that I played a full clay-court season. I just played Rome and Roland Garros,” Nadal said. “For the same time that you told me you should feel strange because we have a shorter gap, at the same time inside myself I never had a real clay-court season last year.

“I am just trying to adapt myself and trying to make the decisions that I feel more comfortable always.”

Nadal looked impressive nonetheless on Court Rainier III, dropping just three games against a player who was competing in his fifth clay-court event of the season. The third seed broke the Argentine’s serve five times and won 57 per cent of his return points.

“I feel good, yeah. I think I had great practice sessions for the last three, four weeks,” Nadal said. “I feel in good shape, honestly. You can win, you can lose, you can play better or worse. In terms of physically and mentally, I’m enjoying being on the Tour.”

The 11-time Monte-Carlo champion will next face a familiar foe in Grigor Dimitrov, who has ousted Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy to reach the third round. Nadal knows he has to be locked in against the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion.

“Tomorrow I have a very tough opponent in front [of me], so I need to be at my 100 per cent every single moment,” Nadal said.

The lefty leads their ATP Head2Head series 13-1, including three triumphs in Monte-Carlo, but Nadal isn’t expecting anything short of a battle against the Bulgarian, who has pushed him to a deciding set seven times. One of those seven came in the 2013 quarter-finals in the Principality.

“We had some great matches. In Melbourne, of course [it was] best of five. The semi-final [was] an emotional one. We played another great match in Beijing, another one in Shanghai with Grigor,” Nadal said. “He’s a good friend, a good guy, and a great player. [It’s] going to be a tough test in my second round. Going to be his third. I need to be ready for it. I hope to be ready for it. I am just excited to play a tough match very early in the tournament.”

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