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Updated: 2 days 12 hours ago

Kyrgios Envious Of Friend Zverev

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:13pm
Nick Kyrgios talks about his biggest moments of the year so far, reveals his envy of his friend Sascha Zverev's discipline and discusses his friendship with Andy Murray. Photo: Getty Images

Emirates ATP Rankings 23 May 2017

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:09pm
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 23 May 2017.

#NextGenATP Ruud, Opelka Advance At Roland Garros Qualifying

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 9:50pm

More than a handful of #NextGenATP players advanced a step closer to the Roland Garros main draw on Monday during day one of qualifying in Paris.

Norwegian Casper Ruud, a semi-finalist in Rio earlier this year, made quick work of Belgian Yannik Reuter, advancing 6-3, 6-2 in 67 minutes. The 18-year-old Ruud is trying to make his Grand Slam debut.

American Reilly Opelka, seeking to qualify at Roland Garros for the first time, hit 14 aces to beat Spain's Daniel Munoz de la Nava 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. Opelka made his Grand Slam debut earlier this year by qualifying at the Australian Open.

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Opelka's countryman 19-year-old Stefan Kozlov also advanced, prevailing against France's Corentin Moutet 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas came back from a set down to down sixth seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Russian Andrey Rublev won 81 per cent of his first-serve points to dismiss Argentina's Agustin Velotti 6-1, 6-3. Alexander Bublik battled past Egypt's Mohamed Safwat 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1 in just under two hours.

Querrey, Anderson Advance In Geneva

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 9:03pm

Sixth seed Sam Querrey hit 10 aces and won almost 90 per cent (34/39) of his first-serve points to spoil the ATP World Tour debut of German Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 6-4 on Monday at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Querrey, a titlist earlier this year in Acapulco, will next face Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor, who beat Spaniard Tommy Robredo 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in just over two hours.

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South African Kevin Anderson stayed perfect against seventh seed Paolo Lorenzi, improving to 3-0 against the Italian in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, 7-5, 7-6(1). Anderson will next face #NextGenATP American Jared Donaldson, who dismissed the Dominican Republic's Victor Estrella Burgos 6-2, 6-4.

German Mischa Zverev saved nine of 11 break points to beat Robin Haase 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes. Zverev will next meet fourth seed John Isner. The American leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but Zverev won their last meeting, earlier this year at the Australian Open.

Simon Pleases French Fans In Lyon

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 8:02pm

Fifth seed Gilles Simon gave the home French fans plenty to cheer about during his first-round win on Monday at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon.

The 32-year-old Frenchman saved seven of eight break points to overcome #NextGenATP Russian Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes. Simon will next meet British qualifier Kyle Edmund or Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

#NextGenATP Korean Hyeon Chung will get a second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against third seed Tomas Berdych. Chung was nearly perfect on serve during his 6-2, 6-3 win against American Donald Young.

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Chung struck eight aces and dropped only one point on his first serve (30/31) during the 61-minute victory. The 21 year old lost to Berdych during their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, 2015 Miami.

Chung is currently in fourth place in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight 21-and-under players who will compete at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 7-11 November in Milan. The eighth player will be determined by wild card.

See Who's Pushing Chung In Race To Milan

Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin set-up a second-round meeting against top seed Milos Raonic with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis. The 21-year-old Kokkinakis was playing in his first singles match of the season and only his second since October 2015. The right-hander endured right shoulder surgery last December before suffering an abdominal strain.

Anderson Supports Tennis For Africa Initiative

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 6:49pm

Kevin Anderson, ambassador of Tennis for Africa, attended the press conference on the initiative “TENNIS CAMPS” at Salaria Sport Village. The scholarships for youths from Tanzania are developed in the framework of a social developing project for youth through the promotion of sport and in particular or the discipline of tennis.

“It is a pleasure for me to give my support to this important initiative and to be here for Tennis for Africa,” said Anderson.

Four children from Tanzania have been selected to attend one-month tennis camps organised in Italy at the TEAM 2001 Tennis Academy of Gianfranco Barbiero in Padoa and at the BFD Tennis Academy of Fabrizio Di Meo in Rome. The initiative starts in June. The project is totally financed by private donations, receives the support of the two academies and is sponsored by TopSeed and Diadora.

Lorenzo Turchi, chairman of the Tennis for Africa association; Pierluigi Mantini, honorary member of Tennis for Africa association; and Armando Albanesi, team manager of BFD Academy, also attended the press conference.

Berdych Closes In On Milestone

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:17pm

Tomas Berdych moved to within one match win of 600 victories on Monday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Berdych, the No. 12 seed and 2013 semi-finalist, triumphed 7-6(7), 6-4 over Mischa Zverev in one hour and 49 minutes. The Czech could not convert four set points on Zverev’s serve when leading 5-4, and he then saved two set points at 4/6 in the tie-break.

Berdych, who has the same number of career victories (599) as his coach Goran Ivanisevic, goes on to meet Robin Haase or qualifier Carlos Berlocq in the second round. Should Berdych win he would become the 25th player in ATP World Tour history to hit the 600 match wins milestone.

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 Watch Full Match Replays

Querrey Battles To Beat Pouille In Rome

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 11:35am

Sam Querrey earned a confidence boosting 7-6(6), 7-6(8) victory over No. 11 seed Lucas Pouille on Monday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Querrey, through to the second round for only the third time (also 2011-12), struck 14 aces and lost just nine of his first service points. The American saved two set points at 4/6 in the first set tie-break, then saw a 4-1 lead evaporate in the second set. Pouille, who qualified last year and reached the semi-finals (l. to Murray), could not convert set points at 6/5, 7/6 and 8/7 in the second set tie-break.

Querrey, who defeated Rafael Nadal in February’s Abierto Mexicano Telcel final for his ninth ATP World Tour trophy, will now challenge qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff. The German broke a two-match losing streak in his third meeting against Bernard Tomic 6-7(8), 6-1, 6-4 in just over two hours. Struff could not convert three set point opportunities at 6/4 and 8/7 in the first-set tie-break.

Later today, ninth seed David Goffin challenges lucky loser Thomaz Bellucci at the Foro Italico.

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Happy 30th Birthday, Andy Murray

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:41am

In honour of Andy Murray's 30th birthday, the ATP World Tour is celebrating by reliving the 30 facts, moments or memories that have made the Brit's tennis career so spectacular.

30 (or older) - The age of five players in the current Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings
29 - The age when he became the second-oldest World No. 1 (behind Newcombe, 30) in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings on 7 November 2016
28
- The number of consecutive matches he won (24 in 2016, 4 in 2017), a career-best
27
- The number of matches he played at the ATP Finals, where he won his first title in 2016 (d. Djokovic)
26th player to become World No. 1 in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since 23 August 1973)
25
- The age when he captured his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open (d. Djokovic)
24
- The number of sets he won in a row, a career-high, in 2016, from the Davis Cup semi-finals, Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna
23
-9 - His record in fifth sets (won a career-best six in a row from 2015 US Open to 2016 Wimbledon)
22
- The number of match wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Shanghai, where he’s won three titles (2010-11, 2016)
21
- The number of Masters 1000 finals he has reached (14-7 record)
20
- The number of consecutive home Davis Cup match wins (20-0) before his first loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2016 semi-final
19
- His age when he first broke into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on 16 April 2007
18
- The number of consecutive times he reached a Grand Slam quarter-final (or better), a career-best, from 2011 Australian Open to 2015 Wimbledon
17
- His first year-end Top 20 Emirates ATP Ranking finish in 2006
16
- The number of match wins at the ATP Finals between 2008-16 (withdrew in 2013)
15
- His age when he was first based in Barcelona for training (from 15-17)
14
- The number of Masters 1000 titles to his name
13
- His Emirates ATP Ranking in 2007 San Jose, where he successfully defended his first ATP World Tour title (d. Karlovic)
12
- The number of consecutive years he has with at least one ATP World Tour title (2006-2017)
11
- The amount of career wins he has vs. Novak Djokovic (11-25) and Roger Federer (11-14), the most against his Big Four rivals
10
th man in Open Era to reach all 4 Grand Slam singles finals
9
- The number of titles he won in 2016, a career-high, and the number of year-end Top 10 finishes in Emirates ATP Rankings from 2008-2016
8
- The amount of grass-court titles to his name (5 at Queen’s Club/London, 2 at Wimbledon, 1 at the 2012 Olympics)
7
- The number of consecutive finals he reached was a career-best in 2016 (from Madrid in May to Cincinnati in August)
6
- The number of consecutive Top 10 wins, a career-high, from 2016 ATP Finals (5-0) to 2017 Doha semi-finals
5
- The number of London/Queen’s Club titles to his name, the most of any tournament he’s won in his career
4
- His Emirates ATP Ranking of his first year-end Top 10 finish in 2008 (also No. 4 in 2009-11, 2013)
3
- His Grand Slam titles (2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon, 2016 Wimbledon)
2
- The number of ATP World Tour doubles titles he owns, both with older brother Jamie (2010 Valencia, 2011 Tokyo) and Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016
1
st career ATP World Tour title came in San Jose in February 2006 (d. Hewitt, saving two match points)

Wish Murray a happy birthday on MyATP now!

 

Del Potro, Dimitrov Square Off Monday In Rome

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:01am

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for Monday's opening rounds at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia & vote for who you think will win! 
Del Potro v Dimitrov Berdych v Zverev Goffin v Bellucci Pouille v Querrey

[GROUP POLL]47[/GROUP POLL]

View Rome Daily Schedule

One year ago in Rome, Lucas Pouille became just the second lucky loser to reach an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final since the series started in 1990. Pouille returns to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Monday as the No. 11 seed after reaching a career-high No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on May 8. The Budapest champion Pouille meets Acapulco champion Sam Querrey.

Pouille is one of nine men in first-round action on Monday who have reached the quarter-finals or semi-finals in Rome, including all six Center Court players. No. 12 seed Tomas Berdych, a 2013 semi-finalist, meets 2009 quarter-finalist Mischa Zverev. If he beats Zverev, Berdych will tie his coach Goran Ivanisevic with 599 victories. Only 24 players have earned 600 or more victories.

Also on Center Court, No. 10 seed and 2014 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov meets 2009 quarter-finalist Juan Martin del Potro. Returning to Rome for the first time since 2013, del Potro is playing just his second match on clay and 12th match overall of 2017 after encountering difficult draws during the hard-court season. All four of his losses this year have come to Top 6 opponents.

 

Djokovic Seeks To ‘Get Mojo Back’

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 1:24am

A lot can change in one year. Novak Djokovic has learned that the hard way. A series of struggles between the lines has yielded a period of self-discovery, as the Serbian looks to reassume his throne atop the tennis world.

Exactly 52 weeks ago, Djokovic was on top of the ATP World Tour, opening a 9,025-point lead in the Emirates ATP Rankings after clinching the title at the Mutua Madrid Open. But soon after, his fortunes began to fade. Professional athletes, even those at the pinnacle of their sport, are not immune to falling victim to their own success, and Djokovic would struggle to maintain his level of seemingly superhuman dominance.

The 29 year old, who fell in his bid to reach his second final of the year on Saturday in Madrid, took time to reflect as he looks to turn the page on a new chapter of his career. In an in-depth joint interview with Spanish media outlets ABC, Marca and El Mundo, the World No. 2 discussed this transitional stage of his career and how he has sought to rediscover his motivation, confidence and ‘mojo’ on the court.

“If I could describe my tennis in one word, I feel like I'm in transition,” Djokovic said. “From the beginning of my career, I have been very fortunate to experience only an upwards direction in my success and results. I have been playing at a high level and with consistent results for many years. After winning Roland Garros, I didn't know how I was going to feel. I never had that issue after winning a big trophy, of bouncing back and finding new ways to motivate and inspire myself. That is, to keep playing at that level and stay emotionally recharged. 

“But last year I found some emptiness for the first time in my life in terms of motivation. I needed a few months to think about things and get that mojo back on the court. I felt that the start of the season went really well for me this year, winning in Doha. I unfortunately lost in Australia, but mentally I felt better and better as time went by. My game just hasn't been there. I'm happy I reached the semi-finals in Madrid, which has been my best result this year. It shows me I'm on the right path."

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Djokovic is preaching patience in the process. The soon-to-be father of two is coming off a semi-final finish in the Spanish capital, where he fell to longtime rival Rafael Nadal. He believes it is a step in the right direction as he works to rebuild his confidence and momentum.

“We'll see whether this week is going to give me that springboard into where I want to be in the next six months,” Djokovic continued. “Or if it's going to take a little longer, I don't know. What I know for sure is that I'm doing my very best to rediscover myself in a new way and get the new strength and the new skin, so to speak. 

“If I don't want to win every match I play, win Grand Slams and be No. 1 in the world, then I wouldn't be playing tennis professionally. Because I've achieved so much in my life and my career, I could leave my racquet aside and just enjoy my life. I have a family and a second baby on the way. Why do I need to stress so much and keep on going? It’s of course because I want to win. It's always there, but what people didn’t comprehend is that I needed to dig deep inside of me to find the new inspiration and motivation to get the new beginning and a new chapter. The results will follow. It's a consequence of the good work I'm doing every day in everything I do.”

Prior to Madrid, Djokovic made a significant change in parting ways with his coaching staff, which included coach Marian Vajda, fitness trainer Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physio Miljan Amanovic. After a decade together, he said that he will always cherish the memories made with his longtime team, but it was a necessary move. 

“I'm very proud of what I've achieved, but it's time to move on. The decision to split with my team was a big one and I needed that change for my mindset. There have not been many players who have been with their tennis coach, fitness coach and physiotherapist for 10 years. The overall goals, dreams and aspirations are of course still the same. I don't go to any tournament just to play. I focus on each and every day as a necessity in the process to reach the final stage and fight for the trophy. Having all these experiences give me confidence that I've done it before and can do it again. I have the trust and belief in my abilities. It's just a matter of getting all these things together.”

Djokovic added that while his ruthless recent run, which saw him finish at year-end No. 1 in 2014-15 and claim a staggering 208 match wins in the past three seasons, was unsustainable, his passion for the game has never waned. He says that when life gives you challenges, it’s how you approach them and work to overcome them that makes you better. 

"As athletes, we are all humans and we all need emotional stability. You may behave like a machine because you are always doing the same things every single day. You are experiencing all these emotions on the court. We all have to deal with it in some ways. When you experience a drop in life or professional sports, you have an opportunity to have a rebirth of something new and something better. 

“Especially now for me, I'm experiencing a fall in my results in the last six to seven months like I've never had before. It is an interesting feeling and we all feel much better when we are happy, but this is not how life works. It goes in cycles and while I've been through these situations before, maybe in shorter swings and periods, I'm still learning and growing. I hope that the effort I put in will be paying off on the court with results.”

Djokovic is now in Rome for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year, before embarking on his title defence at Roland Garros. He is bidding to extend a streak of four consecutive seasons with at least one clay-court Masters 1000 crown. 

"At the end of the day, you’re a professional athlete and you're very successful and work very hard and are talented in certain things, but we all have to deal with everyday problems. I think that vulnerability is not a bad thing. It just makes you stop for a second. Whatever the future holds, I cannot predict it. There are no guarantees. But that's how the life cycle is and I just try to be the best version of myself every day."

Brain Game: The Five Keys To Nadal's Fifth Madrid Title

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 11:21pm

All he does is win.

Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4 in the Mutua Madrid Open final, moving to 15-0 on clay this season, with every aspect of his game operating like a well-oiled machine. Nadal's dominance was felt all over the court, but the following five areas were where he specifically created his separation.

Long Rallies

Overall, Nadal won nine more points than Thiem for the match (88 to 79). The Spaniard more than accounted for that margin just in the longer rallies of 10 shots or more, winning 12 more points (20-8) than Thiem in this specific area.

The long rallies also served the purpose of fatiguing Thiem both physically and mentally, especially after such a grueling opening set that included 96 points. Fifty six per cent of total points for the match were played in the “First Strike” zero-to-four rally length, with Thiem having the slight edge, 46-44.

Thiem also won the mid-length rally length of five to nine shots, 22-21, but it was the 17 per cent of total points in the “Extended Rallies” of greater than nine shots where Nadal crafted his edge.

Backhand

Nadal's backhand typically takes on the role of a defensive shield from the back of the court, yielding as few mistakes as possible, while his forehand dictates much more. But against Thiem, Nadal hit eight backhand winners, often times from spectacular defensive positions.

At 6/6 in the first set tie-break, Nadal ignited the Spanish crowd with an almost impossible short angle backhand winner from deep outside the doubles alley that landed in the cross-court service box.

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Serve & Volley

Nadal served and volleyed three times in the match, winning all three points at critical stages. All of them were out wide first serves in the Ad court, catching Thiem standing way back in his comfort zone, very deep behind the baseline to return. Serving and volleying on clay, against a returner who sets up extremely deep, is a very clever play to instantly change the dynamic of the point.

Nadal did it first at 4-4, 30/15 in the opening set, with Thiem's backhand return not making it over the net. The next time was at 0-1, 30/15 in the second set, with another backhand return error made from deep behind the baseline.

The final time was in the last game of the match, with Nadal serving down break point at 5-4, 30/40. The return floated wide, and Nadal safely moved back to deuce. Thiem also served and volleyed five times in the match, winning three.

Drop Shots

Nadal hit nine drop shots for the match, winning six of them. He primarily used the drop shot when he saw Thiem camped out well behind the baseline, taking advantage of the Austrian's deep court position by suddenly going short. Five of the six points Nadal won with the drop shot were clean winners, all struck from either right on the baseline or slightly inside.

Drop shots are very much a secondary pattern of play. But for Nadal, they cleverly complement his deep, heavy groundstrokes by providing another part of the court the opponent has to respect.

Serve +1 Forehands

Both players were fervently looking to hit a forehand as the first shot after the serve, maintaining as much offense as possible to begin the point.

Total Serve +1 Forehands

• Nadal 74% (45/61)

• Thiem 87% (48/55)

Nadal won 58 per cent (26/45) when he started the point with a Serve +1 forehand, and 69 per cent (11/16) when he started the point with a Serve +1 backhand combination. Thiem won 54 per cent (26/48) of the points that started with a Serve +1 forehand, and 57 per cent (4/7) beginning with a Serve +1 backhand.

The three big advantages of hitting a forehand over a backhand as the first shot after the serve: 1) upgrade to a more powerful groundstroke; 2) be better able to attack all parts of the court; and 3) to disguise the shot better with the open stance, robbing the opponent of precious tenths of seconds to anticipate where the ball is going.

Thiem started the match more aggressively and led 3-2 with a break, mainly due to his pounding forehand. After the first five games, Thiem's average forehand speed was faster than Nadal's (137kmh to 124kmh), and he even had more spin on the ball as well (3507rpm to 3417rpm). The average forehand speed slowed as the match progressed, with Thiem averaging 126kmh to 114kmh for Nadal.

Nadal’s game ticked every possible box today at the Magic Box.

Korean Teen Kwon Scrambles For Seoul Final Hot Shot 2017

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 11:13pm
Watch as Korean teenager Soon-woo Kwon covers every inch of the court in claiming final Hot Shot honours at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Seoul.

Birthday Boy Murray Hoping For Turnaround In Rome

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 10:17pm

Andy Murray turns the big 3-0 on Monday, a cause for celebration throughout the tennis world. But to Murray, the nice, round birthday won't mean much.

Don't misinterpret: The Scot isn't down in the dumps about saying goodbye to his 20s. He's just never been that into birthdays.

“I was talking to my team about that a bit yesterday, and everyone sort of says, 'Oh, when you're 30 or 40, they are huge birthdays.' I have never found that with any birthday,” Murray said during his pre-tournament press conference in Rome on Sunday.

Part of the reason: Murray has been away from home for the past 15 of them. The last time he remembers being near his loved ones for a birthday was when he was 14. “I have always been traveling and never been around family or friends on birthdays. They don't mean that much to me,” Murray said.

Perhaps his attitude towards the annual celebrations will change this week, though, if he can defend his title at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia in Rome, the season's fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. Last year, on his 29th birthday, Murray beat four-time champion Novak Djokovic to win his first Rome title.

This year in Rome, the Scot will be trying to reach his second tour-level final. Murray won his 45th tour-level title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Verdasco) in February.

Murray's Results Since Dubai

Tournament

Result

Mutua Madrid Open

Round of 16 (l. to Coric)

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Semi-final (l. to Thiem)

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

Round of 16 (l. to Ramos-Vinolas)

BNP Paribas Open

2R (l. to Pospisil)

The World No. 1 knows his past success in the Italian capital doesn't guarantee him anything this week, but he's hopeful for another long stay.

“If you perform well, the conditions can suit your game, you can have a good run. Hopefully I can do that,” Murray said.

The conditions will be slightly different from Madrid, where the altitude – 667 metres above sea level – contributes to a lively ball. In sea-level Rome, “It's much slower,” Murray said. “So it's quite a different way of playing here. It's more finding a way, I think, to adjust back to these conditions.”

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The 29 year old will face Italian Fabio Fognini in the second round. Fognini beat wild card and countryman Matteo Berrettini 6-1, 6-3 on Sunday.

Murray leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-2 and has won their past two matches. But Fognini was the only player to push eventual champion Rafael Nadal to three sets last week at the Mutua Madrid Open.

“[Fognini] is one of the better clay-court players, for sure. He obviously would be highly motivated, I would think, playing in Italy as well,” Murray said. “I have had some tough matches with him in the past, so it won't be easy. I will definitely need to play well in that one to have a chance of winning.”

5 Things We Learned At The 2017 Mutua Madrid Open

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 9:22pm

Nadal Is Appearing Untouchable

Can anyone stop Rafael Nadal? The Spaniard picked up his fifth Mutua Madrid Open title and moved to 15-0 on the red dirt this year after prevailing in an epic final over Dominic Thiem. The victory also gives Nadal his 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, tying Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead.

But what stands out most is Nadal’s dominance in recording these wins. The Spaniard has won 30 of 32 sets he’s played on clay this year and recorded straight-sets wins against everyone he’s faced inside the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Major roadblocks including Djokovic, Thiem and David Goffin were swiftly brushed aside.

Currently at the top of the Emirates ATP Race to London, which tallies all the race points accumulated beginning Jan. 1 of this year, he is now an overwhelming favourite heading into the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Although Nadal isn’t unbeatable, it will take a brilliant performance to defeat him if he continues to play at this level.

Thiem Making Push For Top 5

The 23-year-old Austrian reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Madrid and showed it certainly won’t be his last by giving Nadal all he could handle in the final. Thiem has been in outstanding form on clay this year, winning in Rio de Janeiro (d. Carreno Busta) and finishing runner-up in Barcelona (l. Nadal).

Thiem’s superior fitness means a heavy match schedule – Madrid is his 12th tournament of 2017 – won’t slow him down heading into Rome and Roland Garros. Currently third in the Emirates ATP Race to London, he looks poised to pick up plenty of points over the next few weeks.

Goffin Continues Racking Up Top 10 Wins

David Goffin has never shown fear when competing against the world’s best, but has been especially impressive in scoring scalps on clay. En route to a quarter-final showing in Madrid, the Belgian defeated Milos Raonic in the third round for his fourth Top 10 win of the season. Three of those have come on the dirt, including over Djokovic and Thiem at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

Goffin is now 8-3 on clay, with two of those losses coming to Nadal. No less of an authority that Nadal praised Goffin as someone who can eventually become World No. 1, and the 26 year old is showing that he will continue to use his arsenal to its fullest potential.

The #NextGenATP Players Are Coming

#NextGenATP players Alexander Zverev and Borna Coric put together impressive performances in Madrid to reach the quarter-finals. Zverev ousted Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych en route to the last eight. Coric, a lucky loser who only entered the main draw after Richard Gasquet withdrew, defeated World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round.

Zverev and Coric are the top two players in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, which will determine who qualifies for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 7-11 November. Both men hold sizable leads over their peers in the race and will only continue to add to that gap with their current form.

Kubot/Melo Are Hottest Team On Tour

In their first year competing full-time as a team, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo picked up their second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of the season in Madrid by defeating Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Kubot/Melo also won in Miami (d. Monroe/Sock) and finished runner-up in Indian Wells (l. Klaasen/Ram).

Their win in Madrid also puts them past Henri Kontinen and John Peers for the top spot in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race to London, and makes them prime contenders to prevail next month at Roland Garros.

Highlights: Nadal Beats Thiem For Fifth Madrid Title 2017

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 8:56pm
Watch highlights of Rafael Nadal beating Dominic Thiem to win his fifth Mutua Madrid Open title. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Getty Images photo.

Relentless Rafa Wins Fifth Madrid Crown

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 6:20pm
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Can anyone stop Rafael Nadal on clay this season?

The Spaniard was as relentless as ever on Sunday, answering everything Dominic Thiem tossed at him during the Mutua Madrid Open final to overcome the Austrian 7-6(8), 6-4 in La Caja Mágica.

The 30-year-old Nadal won his fifth Mutua Madrid Open title and his record-tying 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, matching World No. 2 Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead.

Player

Masters 1000 Titles

Rafael Nadal

30

Novak Djokovic

30

Roger Federer

26

Andre Agassi

17

Andy Murray

14

Pete Sampras

11

This season, Nadal improves to 15-0 on clay and has now won three consecutive titles, including two Masters 1000 crowns: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Mutua Madrid Open. The Spaniard has dropped only two of the 32 sets he's played on the red dirt this year.

“Today is a day to be satisfied, to be happy and to have this trophy,” Nadal said. “This is a very emotional period of the season. I really enjoy these tournaments. I just try to go for all of them. I try to compete. I did well in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, and also here. I hope to do the same in Rome.” 

The left-hander hardly could have asked for a better week in Madrid. Nadal escaped the tricky Fabio Fognini before dismissing Nick Kyrgios and David Goffin in straight sets. In what was billed as a must-see semi-final against Djokovic, Nadal turned the tables on the Serbian, hitting him off the court to end a seven-match losing streak against the World No. 2. The Spaniard backed up the strong performance with another championship on Sunday.

The title, Nadal's 52nd on clay, also shows one more time just how dominant the “Big Four” – Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – have been during this golden age of tennis. The champions have claimed 60 of the past 65 Masters 1000 crowns, dating back to 2010 Monte-Carlo.

'Big Four' Masters 1000 titles since 2010 Monte-Carlo

Djokovic: 25

Nadal: 15

Murray: 10

Federer: 10

Others: 5

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The 23-year-old Thiem was playing in his first Masters 1000 final, but the Austrian hardly looked intimidated against Nadal, who was backed by a friendly Spanish crowd. Thiem broke first for a 2-1 lead, blocking a backhand volley that Nadal couldn't track down. The Austrian was dictating play from the middle of the court, blasting forehands to keep Nadal on the run.

But the Spaniard's defense only elevated as he climbed his way back into the set, evening the first set at 3-3. Nadal found a more friendly back and forth – his forehand to Thiem's one-handed backhand – and pinned Thiem in his backhand corner. And with the Austrian feet behind the baseline after consecutive backhands, Nadal would tap a drop shot winner inside the service box.

“How he plays after his serve, it's unbelievable. He hits so many forehands. You're under pressure after his serve almost every time,” Thiem said.

Neither player would break again in the first set, though. In the tie-break, Thiem continued to challenge the “King of Clay”, erasing set points four and five before Nadal claimed one of the best sets of the year when Thiem sailed a forehand long. Winners ended nearly half of the points in the 18-point tie-break.

“Anything could have happened at the end of the first set. But I think I played the important points well,” Nadal said.

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The 30-year-old Spaniard rode momentum to break in the first game of the second set, and Thiem fought to the end. He erased three match points before Nadal sliced a backhand volley for the title.

Nadal receives 1,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points and is expected to climb to No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, surpassing Federer. The Spaniard also will receive €1,043,680 in prize money.

“I'm very happy for what I achieved. I think it's difficult to win three different trophies in a row on clay. They are all important championships,” Nadal said.

Thiem will celebrate his best week at a Masters 1000 tournament with 600 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €511,740 in prize money. The right-hander is expected to match his career high at No. 7 when the new Emirates ATP Rankings are released on Monday.

“I gave everything that I could,” Thiem said. “But it was a final of a Masters 1000, my first one, against the best player on this surface ever. Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well. That's the thing in tennis: there's only one winner.”

Nadal Claims Final Thriller: How The Madrid Final Was Won

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 4:51pm
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Rafael Nadal was made to work in claiming his fifth Mutua Madrid Open title, edging Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4 in his home capital on Sunday. Thiem refused to back down in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final and the pair would produce a stunning display of high-octane tennis from first ball to last. Nadal eventually converted his fourth championship point to close out one of the matches of the year on the ATP World Tour.

The five-time champion extended his unbeaten start to the European clay-court season, which stands at 15-0 following the final. He adds to victories at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he also defeated Thiem in the final. The Spaniard lifted a record-tying 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, joining Novak Djokovic in the elite club. 

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Here is how the final unfolded..

FIRST SET - Nadal 7-6(8)
Thiem burst out of the gates on a sunny late afternoon at the Caja Magica, exhibiting no signs of rust after a midnight semi-final finish against Pablo Cuevas. Launching his forehand deep to Nadal's backhand, the Austrian claimed first blood in the third game.

Nadal refused to be broken in their Barcelona final just two weeks prior, but he would concede the first break of the match in the Spanish capital as Thiem struck a volley winner. But the home favourite answered in kind in the sixth game, claiming the point of the match with a stunning defensive display from well behind the baseline. He would draw level for 3-all and pushed Thiem to the brink with the 23 year old serving to stay in the set at 5-4.

Thiem escaped from a 0/40 deficit in that game, denying all three set points and punctuating the hold with an ace down the T. Continuing to strike his forehand with conviction, Thiem was not fazed by the moment of his first Masters 1000 final and would force an opening tie-break.

The margins proved to be razor thin as the set neared its conclusion. Thiem clawed back from a mini-break down with a beautiful forehand into the open court and Nadal rifled a sublime backhand winner at 6-all. The hot shots continued as the tie-break wore on, with Thiem digging deep with a clutch stab volley winner at 7-all. But Nadal is the King of Clay for a reason and he would not be denied, taking the opener 10-8 in the tie-break after a gripping one hour and 18 minutes of high-octane tennis.

Eight of the 18 points in the tie-break were won with outright winners. 

SECOND SET - Nadal 6-4
Nadal fired just 14 winners to Thiem's 16 in the first set, but the Austrian was victimised by 21 unforced errors. It would continue to plague him in the opening game of the second set. Nadal was a defensive demon, tracking down everything Thiem sent his way, and he would capture the initial break for 1-0 as the World No. 9 sent a forehand long.

Thiem would not back down, proving why he is one of the brightest stars on the ATP World Tour. But despite continuing to fight and battle for every point, his energy began to fade after such an emotionally-charged first set.

Nadal held to love in two straight service games and was relentless from the baseline as the match neared the finish line. A brilliant running forehand pass moved him to within two points of the title, with Thiem serving down 5-3. 

The Austrian would valiantly save two championship points at 15/40 and remarkably held four break points with Nadal serving for the title in the next game. But the Manacor native fired an ace, a service winner and a powerful forehand winner down the line, and he would eventually lift the trophy after two hours and 18 minutes of stunning, world-class tennis. 

Happy 30th Birthday Andy Murray

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 4:00pm
The ATP World Tour and its stars celebrate World No. 1 Andy Murray's 30th birthday.