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After one match in Madrid, survey says Novak Djokovic on the mend

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 5:20pm
Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, Novak Djokovic finally showed a semblance of the player who once dominated tennis. The question is: What's next?

Atletico Madrid jersey gets Nadal in hot water

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 4:38pm
Rafael Nadal, a Real Madrid supporter, made headlines after being seen with an Atletico Madrid jersey during the club's Europa League match against Arsenal last week.

Del Potro/Thiem Beaten On Doubles Debut

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 2:58pm

Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers were solid on serve on Monday to get the better of Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6(8) in 87 minutes at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Cuevas and Granollers won the first three games of the match, then, towards the end of a competitive second set, won the first four points of the tie-break. Del Potro and Thiem recovered to lead 5/4 and, having saved one match point at 5/6, could not convert one set point of their own at 7/6 as del Potro returned a backhand long.

Cuevas sealed victory with an unreturned served for a place in the second round against top seeds and defending champions Lukas Kubot and Marcelo Melo.

In the other only doubles match on day two, Dutch pair Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer knocked out Santiago Gonzalez and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 7-5, 6-3 in 74 minutes. They now face fifth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.

Did You Know?
In the first 13 editions of the Mutua Madrid Open (2002-2014), only three winning doubles teams did not feature Daniel Nestor, Bob Bryan or Mike Bryan. Nestor won three of the first four championship matches in Madrid alongside Mark Knowles and also triumphed with Nenad Zimonjic in 2009 and 2014, while Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the event on five occasions between 2006 and 2013.

Djokovic tops Nishikori in 1st round in Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 2:42pm
Novak Djokovic posted a 7-5, 6-4 win over Kei Nishikori in the first round of the Madrid Open on Monday.

Hot Shot: Nishikori Showcases Impressive Reaction Times

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:20pm
Watch as Kei Nishikori anticipates the direction of Novak Djokovic's overhead before striking a backhand winner up the line. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Inside The 2018 Madrid Player Party

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:44pm
Watch as Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin enjoy the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open pre-tournament player party. Credit: Mutua Madrid Open.

Why Frances Tiafoe could be the last American standing at the French Open

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:43pm
He's got game, and he digs clay. Frances Tiafoe has every reason to believe he will thrive once Roland Garros rolls around.

Aggressive Djokovic Beats Nishikori In Madrid Blockbuster

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:25pm

Two-time former champion Novak Djokovic went after the second serve of Kei Nishikori on Monday to win 7-5, 6-4 in the standout first-round match of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Djokovic took a big step in the right direction by hitting 26 winners in long baseline rallies to improve to 12-2 lifetime against 2014 finalist Nishikori, who had reached the Madrid quarter-final (or better) in each of the past five years.

The 10th seed will next play on Wednesday in an encounter with Sydney International champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia or Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

In an error strewn first set that saw Djokovic broken to love at 2-2, the Serbian played with great aggression and, after an accumulation of pressure, broke down Nishikori’s second serve to clinch the 66-minute opener. Djokovic saw two set point chances elude him at 4-5, on Nishikori’s serve, but at 5-6, when Nishikori hit a crosscourt backhand wide at 30/30, the former World No. 1 then struck a forehand return winner to seal the set.

Having saved one break point in the first game of the second set, Djokovic’s placement and groundstroke length tested Nishikori’s reserves. While the 30-year-old couldn’t break Nishikori’s serve, the pressure did, and in a 12-point 10th game, the Japanese star committed his 26h unforced error – a backhand long – to hand Djokovic the two-hour match.

After the match, Djokovic admitted it felt weird facing a player of Nishikori's calibre in the first round.

"It was strange, I must admit, playing Kei in the first round," Djokovic said. "Our rankings dropped due to injuries and everything else that was happening the last year. I mean, it can happen and it did happen here.

Of course, I've played Kei on big occasions, in many of the big tournaments, finals and semi-finals," Djokovic said. "It was different to play him in the first round. It was a big test for both of us.

"I'm glad that match went my way, but it could have gone his way as well. It was a very few points that really decided a winner today. I managed to play the right shots in the important moments. In both first and second set I made breaks, you know, to win both sets at the really final stages of both sets."

Feliciano Lopez extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead to 2-1 against Pablo Andujar with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory. The 36-year-old lefty landed 12 aces against his countryman before clinching the match in one hour and 39 minutes.

Did You Know?

Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open final was his first win on clay against his rival. The 30-year-old has since beaten Nadal on six further occasions on clay, which accounts for 20 per cent of the Spaniard’s total career losses on the surface (35).

Hot Shot: Nishikori Showcases Impressive Reaction Speed

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 11:57am
Watch as Kei Nishikori anticipates the direction of Novak Djokovic's overhead before striking a backhand winner up the line. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Nadal Looks Forward To Home Support in Madrid 2018

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 11:09am
Watch as Rafael Nadal discusses playing in front of a home crowd and the challenge of adapting to conditions as he chases a record sixth Mutua Madrid Open title. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Raonic Books Dimitrov Clash In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 10:48am

Milos Raonic set up a second-round meeting with third seed Grigor Dimitrov on Monday, defeating Argentina’s Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2 at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The two-time quarter-finalist (2015, 2016) took just 74 minutes to secure victory, hitting 17 aces to beat the Madrid debutant. Raonic has now won 10 matches on the ATP World Tour this season, highlighted by strong showings at the opening ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season in Indian Wells and Miami. The Canadian reached the semi-finals in California and the quarter-finals in Florida before losing to Juan Martin del Potro on both occasions.

The World No. 24 secured the only break of the first set in the fourth game of the match and took a one-set lead after converting his sixth set point. The 27-year-old once again earned an early break in the second set and raced to victory, dropping just one point on serve throughout the set to advance to a fifth meeting with World No. 4 Dimitrov.

Raonic trails Dimitrov 1-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, having lost three consecutive matches to the Bulgarian in Australia since his sole victory at the Intrum Stockholm Open in 2011.

Damir Dzumhur also booked his place in the second round, beating France’s Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2. The World No. 32 won 79 per cent of points behind his first serve, breaking the 36-year-old on four occasions to set up a second-round encounter against fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro.

Serbia's Dusan Lajovic needed exactly one hour to upset Open 13 Provence champion Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2. The 27-year-old qualifier converted four of his five break-point opportunities and won 79 per cent of first-serve points to reach the second round.

Federico Delbonis required a final-set tie-break to overcome Germany's Mischa Zverev 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(6). The World No. 78 withstood nine aces throughout the first-round meeting which lasted just over two hours, converting his third match point to set a meeting with 2017 finalist Dominic Thiem. Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin also moved into the second round, beating Ecuador Open champion Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-2.

Did You Know?

Milos Raonic’s best performances at the Mutua Madrid Open came in 2015 and 2016 where he reached the quarter-finals. On both occasions he was eliminated in straight sets by the eventual champion; Andy Murray in 2015 and Novak Djokovic in 2016.

Nadal Leaving Nothing To Chance In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:59am

Rafael Nadal may be 19 matches (and 46 sets) unbeaten on his favourite surface, but even one of the sport’s greatest icons isn’t leaving anything to chance in his preparations for the Mutua Madrid Open, where he is a five-time champion.

“I think that I go through a process of adaptation,” said Nadal on Monday. “I have played a couple of tournaments before where I have played really well. In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, you have the feeling that you are in control of the situation. Here, it's different. It takes you time to adapt to how the ball bounces and flies.

“Day by day I keep improving. I have better feelings. I'm happy to be back here. It's always special to play at home. It's a very, very special moment, a very special occasion for me to be able to play here.”

The 31-year-old superstar, who has sunk his teeth into five titles from nine Mutua Madrid Open finals, arrived early in the Spanish capital to acclimatise in training sessions with Dominic Thiem, who he beat in last year’s championship match, Grigor Dimitrov and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Nadal has already picked up 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), where he also passed 400 match wins on clay courts. With a 401-35 lifetime record on the surface (.920), according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, the best winning percentage of any player in ATP World Tour history, Nadal remains humble of his achievements.

“I don't think that I am superior to the other players [on clay],” said Nadal. “Maybe some tournaments have been better than others, but that doesn't guarantee that in the future I'm going to be better than my opponents.

“I'm very happy for all the things that have happened… I'm not worried about being the favourite player or not. I try to do things the best possible way, to be in shape. When I'm able to do this, well, it's all fine. The day I'm not going to be worried about my shape or about my tennis, that will be the day when I won't be successful any more.

“I just have to be ready in every single moment [and] be patient. That's what I've done. I've always been very respectful of my opponents because each day it's completely different when you go out there and play on a tennis court. You have to bear in mind that you can either win or lose.”

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In the 10th year of play at the Caja Magica, the 31-year-old will be hoping to draw inspiration from the fantastic atmosphere in his first match against France’s Gael Monfils or Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

“The crowd is always great. Every year that I’ve played here, I play with the full court with the crowd supporting. The crowd here is special… We had a great event in indoor, [conditions] too, before. But, at the same time, this event is even bigger than what used to be in indoor. The tournament is a great event and hopefully will stay here for a long time.”

Dimitrov Relives Djokovic Win In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:07am
Watch as Grigor Dimitrov shares his thoughts on his surprise victory over Novak Djokovic at the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Paire Ousts Pouille In Madrid Opener

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 7:49am

Benoit Paire struck 39 winners on Monday to beat fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open second round.

The World No. 50, who will next play #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, beat No. 15 seed Pouille for the first time in their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting over 79 minutes. Pouille beat Paire en route to his fifth ATP World Tour title at the Open Sud de France in February, but is now winless in three clay-court matches.

Paire broke serve in the sixth game, then later converted his fourth set point chance with a backhand winner down the line. He took a 3-0 lead in the second set, but was broken for the first time when an over rule call went in Pouille’s favour in the fifth game. Paire was gifted a 5-3 advantage when Pouille struck a backhand long, then, in the next game, on his second match point opportunity hit a forehand winner.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the No. 13 seed, improved to 11-4 on red dirt this year by winning 21 of 22 first-serve points for a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino of France. He awaits the Spanish winner of wild card Pablo Andujar, the recent Grand Prix Hassan II champion on the road back from injury, or Feliciano Lopez, who will begin his role at Tournament Director of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2019.

Also later today, Frenchman Gael Monfils takes on Nikoloz Basilashvili for a second-round test against World No. 1 and five-time titlist Rafael Nadal.

ATP Rankings Movers: Sousa Returns To Top 50 With Home Title

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 5:08am

No. 48 Joao Sousa, +20
It had long been a dream of Joao Sousa's: become the first Portugese-born player to win an ATP World Tour title on home soil. And with the crowd's help on Sunday, Sousa achieved the milestone to win his third ATP World Tour title and first since 2015 Valencia.

He also climbed closer to his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28, which he reached in May 2016. The right-hander jumped 20 spots to No. 48 and could come close this season to breaking the Top 30 again. Before Estoril, Sousa had reached a semi-final (Marrakech) and beaten two Top 10 players at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments (No. 9 Goffin, Miami; No. 5 Zverev, Indian Wells).

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No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber, +6
The 34-year-old German veteran climbed back into the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings by reaching the final of the BMW Open by FWU in Munich. Kohlschreiber hadn't dropped a set before falling to Alexander Zverev, who retained his Munich crown. It was Kohlschreiber's first final of the season.

No. 40 Stefanos Tsitsipas, +4
In Estoril, the #NextGenATP Greek continued his accelerated pace on the red dirt by making the semi-finals (l. to Sousa) and setting a new career-high in the ATP Rankings. It marked the second consecutive week that the 19-year-old had reached a semi-final and beaten a Top 10 player (d. No. 8 Anderson). In Barcelona, Tsitsipas swept No. 7 Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals before falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final.

Tsitsipas currently leads the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players who compete at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan.

No. 56 Frances Tiafoe, +8
The #NextGenATP American, like Tsitsipas, is having the breakout season of his career. Two months after winning his maiden ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach, Tiafoe made his second tour-level final in Estoril (l. to Sousa). Next for Tiafoe, who matched his career-high of No. 56: cracking the Top 50. The right-hander is currently in second place in the ATP Race To Milan.

See Who's Trailing Tsitsipas, Tiafoe In The ATP Race To Milan

No. 82 Taro Daniel, +32
The Japanese right-hander hadn't reached a semi-final before last week in Istanbul, but on Sunday evening, he was celebrating his maiden ATP World Tour title and a new career-high ATP Ranking after beating Malek Jaziri to win the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.

Daniel, who won four tour-level matches in all of 2017, won five matches in a row in Istanbul, knocking out Italian Matteo Berrettini, Aljaz Bedene of Slovakia, Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva and French veteran Jeremy Chardy before beating Jaziri, who was also competing in his first ATP World Tour final.

Djokovic: Match Against Nishikori 'Could Have Gone Either Way'

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 3:17am
Watch as Novak Djokovic discusses his 7-5, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori in the first-round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Highlights: Zverev Shines, Retains Title In Munich 2018

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:42am
Watch highlights as Alexander Zverev retains his trophy in Munich with a victory against compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber. Photo Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for BMW.

Djokovic vs Nishikori: Cast Your Vote!

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:26am

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following matches from the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open & vote for who you think will win! 
Djokovic vs Nishikori | Lopez vs Andujar

[GROUP POLL]133[/GROUP POLL] 

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He's Got Seoul: McDonald Rallies For Second Title

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:17am
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A LOOK BACK
Vitro Seoul Open Challenger (Seoul, Korea): Mackenzie McDonald has found his groove as we enter the month of May. The American returned to the winners' circle with an impressive performance on the hard courts of Seoul, capped by a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback victory over Jordan Thompson in Sunday's final. 

McDonald lifted his second ATP Challenger Tour crown and first since October, when he prevailed at home in Fairfield, USA. This time, however, the California native found his top gear more than 5,000 miles away from home to take the title at the $100,000 event. Most importantly, he jumps 32 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 114.

"I'm thrilled about my win," said McDonald. "This is my first time in Asia and I'm happy I could start it off on a good note. The conditions were tough this week with the weather and getting acclimated, but I'm happy with how I competed and battled throughout the tournament."

First title of 2018. Congrats @mackiemacster!

The

Savannah Challenger Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:14am
A staple on the ATP Challenger Tour in the United States, Savannah continues to make a great impression in its 10th season.