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Updated: 19 min 8 sec ago
Second seed Kei Nishikori opened his title defence at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Thiemo de Bakker.
The Japanese star has won 11 straight matches at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament and continued his winning run with victory over de Bakker in 69 minutes. Nishikori claimed his second win of the season over the No. 102-ranked de Bakker as he won 74 per cent of his service points and broke serve three times.
“I’m happy to be back in Barcelona," said Nishikori. "Today’s conditions were tough with the wind and I’m happy to be in the next round.”
The 26-year-old Nishikori is playing his first clay-court tournament of the season and improved to 20-6 in 2016. The right-hander is coming off a runner-up showing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Miami (l. to Djokovic) and captured his 11th title in Memphis (d. Fritz) in February.
The two-time defending Barcelona champion goes on to face Jeremy Chardy.
Seventh seed Feliciano Lopez edged Ivan Dodig 7-6(5), 6-4 to move into the third round. Lopez dropped serve twice but went 3-for-9 on break points to advance in one hour and 46 minutes. He moved ahead 3-2 in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and will now face tenth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who eased past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour.
Ninth seed Pablo Cuevas saw off Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 7-5. Cuevas failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set, but swept the last two games to set up a third-round clash against sixth seed Benoit Paire.
Mother Nature dealt a cruel hand to players and fans at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy on Wednesday, as rain forced the postponement of scheduled matches without a single ball being hit.
Second-round matches featuring second seed Ivo Karlovic and seventh seed Paolo Lorenzi will be contested on Thursday. Also in action will be top seed Bernard Tomic and the home-grown doubles duo of Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau.
When you’ve been on tour for 18 years, you’ve got some good stories to tell! ATPWorldTour.com caught up with Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to ask the 37-year-old American twins The Last Time…
I had a travel drama?
I lost something important?
Being famous helped me?
I strung a tennis racquet?
I cooked for myself and others?
I met a childhood idol?
I shared a hotel room with another player?
I cried at a movie?
Watch Tuesday highlights from the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest, featuring wins for Marco Cecchinato and Fernando Verdasco, plus activities for Ivo Karlovic and Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau.
Watch highlights as Kei Nishikori and other ATP World Tour stars perform in Barcelona. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch Hot Shot as Feliciano Lopez uses his anticipation to good effect. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images
Get to know more about 19-year-old #NextGen star Karen Khachanov, who is making waves in Barcelona.
World No. 16 John Isner was on hand Monday in Atlanta, travelling around the city to make appearances on radio stations and television broadcasts to promote the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open. The three-time defending champion visited with kids at an after-school program as well as the North Georgia Regional President of the title sponsor, Donta Wilson.
"I always enjoy playing in Atlanta and having the support of a lot of Bulldog fans," said the American. "The crowds are great and I look forward to coming back to defend my title again this summer."
The BB&T Atlanta Open takes place 1-7 August.
ATP World Tour Uncovered spotlights the new chapter in Andy Murray's life as a dad, plus mum Judy Murray adds how her son might manage to adjust. Photo: Getty Images
Karen Khachanov, part of the ATP's Next Generation, saved one match point Monday at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell. On Tuesday, he once again held his nerve to defeat World No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 in his first match against a Top 20 player.
“Honestly it’s feels great for me,” said the 19-year-old qualifier following the two hour, 25-minute battle. “It’s an unbelievable win – one of the highest players I’ve ever beat. To play on centre court here in Barcelona, almost in my second hometown after Moscow because I’m practising here, it’s amazing.”
Khachanov, who is coached by Spaniard Galo Blanco, previously achieved his best tour-level result in his other hometown of Moscow. In 2013, as a wild card, he defeated former champion Janko Tipsarevic to become the first 17 year old to reach an ATP World Tour quarter-final since Kei Nishikori in 2007 (Indianapolis). He went from unranked to No. 513 in the Emirates ATP Rankings following his first two tour-level events that autumn: St. Petersburg (2R - d. Hanescu, l. to Rosol) and Moscow (d. Ramos-Vinolas, Tipsarevic, l. to Karlovic).
This week, he entered Barcelona at No. 138 – three back of his career-high Emirates ATP Ranking – and won two matches in qualifying, both in three sets, to earn his place alongside three other Next Generation players – Alexander Zverev, Hyeon Chung and Elias Ymer – in the main draw.
“All these guys, we are almost the same age. We have been playing from 14 years old in the same tournaments and now we’re coming on the ATP World Tour and it’s great because all of us we improve and hopefully in a few years we can compete against each other and play on the high levels,” he said.
But first, Khachanov has his sights set on the Top 100. “Always you try to have higher goals and then if you achieve, it’s good. If not, you’ll keep working,” he said. “[I need to] keep going like this, to improve my serve, to play more aggressive.”
To continue his latest comeback, onetime tennis prodigy Brian Baker has returned to the ATP Challenger that helped him start the best run of his career nearly four years ago.
In 2012, Baker was 26 and already had endured six surgeries – left knee; left hip, twice; right hip; sports hernia; and elbow reconstruction. He wanted, however, to give his career another shot. Ranked No. 293, Baker first needed to qualify for the Savannah Challenger.
Eight matches later, he had won the $50,000 event. Later that year, he'd go on to reach the final at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur, win a round at Roland Garros and make the fourth round at Wimbledon.
“It started here,” Baker said of Savannah.
On Monday, the 30-year-old American picked up where he left off. Winning 81 per cent of his first-serve points, Baker dismissed his 18-year-old compatriot Tommy Paul, last year's French Open junior boys' champion, 6-3, 6-1 in 58 minutes to move into the second round. At 1-all in the second set, Baker erased the only break point he faced with his only ace and cruised for the remainder of the match.
“It still feels a little different than it does when you've played a million matches,” Baker said. “But once I settled in the first 15 minutes of the match, played a few good games, I think I was able to put pressure on him whenever he hit a shorter ball, and maybe took him out of his game a little bit.”
Baker is playing in just his fourth tournament of 2016. After his 2012 run, which included wins over then-No. 13 Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire, in addition to a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 52, the Nashville native had to retire from his second-round match at the 2013 Australian Open because of a right-knee injury.
During the next two years, he'd play only 10 matches and undergo five more surgeries, including one to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. The final surgery, in December 2014, repaired cartilage in the same knee. “It's just been a really long recovery,” Baker told the ATPWorldTour.com after that operation.
But on Monday, he showed no signs of any lingering injuries. The former Roland Garros junior boys' finalist slid freely on the Har-Tru, chasing down drop shots and attacking the net against Paul. The only semblance of a brace that Baker wears is a little pre-wrap around his right knee to help stabilize his IT band.
“I still need to get stronger. I need to get faster. I need to get fitter. But as far as pain-wise, it felt good,” he said.
The veteran has taken his time in coming back this year. He used his protected ranking to play in the main draw of the Australian Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau. Earlier this month, he received a wild card into qualifying at the Fayez Sarofim & Co U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston.
Baker, now ranked No. 800, could use his protected ranking more often earlier in the season and play in more bigger events. But he accepted a wild card to return to Skidaway Island this week so he could gain match experience and enjoy Savannah once more.
Baker stays in a home nearby The Landings Club, and the local fans show him neighbourly love. After his match against Paul, about a handful of supporters congratulated him on his play. “Great to see you back,” one fan said.
“Thank you. I appreciate it,” Baker said.
Despite his favourable memories, he said he's resisted putting any pressure on himself this week or this year. He wants to play 15 to 20 matches and then evaluate his level of play.
“I told myself this tournament... be a little bit nicer to yourself, realise that you're going to play some poor games, you're going to hit some poor shots, but you're playing a lot better and you can do well here, and I think I did that,” Baker said. “It's going to take a little bit of time but (Monday) was a great step in the right direction.”
World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka helped launch the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open tram on Tuesday. The Swiss star, along with Tournament Director Thierry Grin, organisers and media, took the tram from Place de Neuve to the United Nations.
“The tram looks great. It’s a very nice initiative from the tournament,” said Wawrinka. “It’s always a pleasure to play at home, especially here, in my region. I’m getting ready for some busy weeks ahead on clay and hope that I can play my best in front of my Swiss fans.”
Wawrinka will return to the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, to be held from 15-21 May, for a second straight year. The 28-player field will also feature top American John Isner, defending champion Thomaz Bellucci and Croatian Marin Cilic, who was awarded the first wild card.
Marcos Baghdatis was denied the 300th match win of his career on Tuesday at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy. Marco Cecchinato saved all four break points he faced to defeat the fifth seed 6-2, 6-4 in 75 minutes. He'll next face Damir Dzumhur, who last week qualified for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and reached the third round (l. to Raonic).
Seventh seed Paolo Lorenzi recorded his 10th victory of the year by beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4 in 84 minutes. Later in the day, former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco - returning to the tournament for the first time since 2006, hit 18 aces to scrap past qualifier Aldin Setkic 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 in two hours and 34 minutes.
"It was a long match, even for clay," said Haase. "I was lucky to be two breaks up in the first set, but then he came back and it was totally different. I should have won that set 6-3 or maybe 6-4. But then I got the tie-break and I came back from a break down in the second. I'm pleased with the victory."
"I am happy right now," said Pouille. "It is never easy to enter a tournament after a good week in Monte-Carlo, especially against Dusan who I lost to twice already. It wasn't a high-quality match but I tried to do simple things, to serve well and to be solid during important points."
If they were looking for inspiration ahead of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet may have found it as they visited one of the most impressive football grounds in the world on Monday - the Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona.
Ferrer and Gasquet were welcomed to the club by Jordi Cardoner, vice president of FC Barcelona, and Jordi Penas, the director of the FC Barcelona museum. As well as being presented with replica shirts bearing their names, the pair were treated to a private tour of the Camp Nou, including a visit to the museum, which houses Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or awards, the shirt of legendary player Ronald Koeman, and FC Barcelona's countless trophies.
Ferrer, a Barcelona fan, had been to the ground many times before for matches, but never pitch side.
"I'm a supporter of Barcelona and it was very nice to have a chance to do the tour and be here in the Nou Camp," said Ferrer. "Lionel Messi is my favourite player. He's the best player in the world. I've never seen anyone like him."
The Spaniard is a four-time former finalist in Barcelona, losing to Rafael Nadal on each occasion. He is making his return from a calf injury this week, after being forced to miss the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, and faces Radek Stepanek in his opening second-round match.
Gasquet is seeded fourth at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament and is looking to bounce back from a second-round exit in Monte-Carlo.
"It's important to be back in Barcelona," said Gasquet, who is playing here for the first time since 2011. "I hope I will play well. It's a favourite tournament for me, a historic one, a lot of big players won here. I like playing here.
"It was crazy to visit the [FC Barcelona] museum," continued Gasquet, who supports PSG. "It's an incredible experience for me, especially being on the pitch. It's so big, it's amazing. I'm a football fan and to be here in the Camp Nou, it's amazing for me.
Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for a ninth title at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell against fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers on Wednesday. Nadal, who lifted his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Monfils) last week, leads Granollers 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Granollers struck 10 aces in a 6-4, 6-3 win over Daniel Munoz de la Nava for his second-round berth.
Roberto Bautista Agut, the fifth seed, experienced his first opening-round loss since June 2015 (London-Queen's Club, l. to Verdasco), early evening. Qualifier Karen Khachanov, part of the ATP's Next Generation, held his nerve to win 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and 25 minutes. Khachanov saved one match point to beat Aljaz Bedene on Monday.
A pair of Frenchmen also won in second-round action Tuesday. Sixth seed Benoit Paire defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 7-5, while No. 13 seed Jeremy Chardy posted a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Victor Estrella Burgos. Chardy awaits the winner between two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori and Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker. In a Barcelona first-round rematch, de Bakker once again got the better of Elias Ymer, prevailing against the 20-year-old Swede 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3.
Top Seeds Fall In Doubles
Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez also prevailed in a Match Tie-break, edging Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 3-6, 10-7, while Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi closed out a 7-6(5), 3-6, 10-7 win over Robert Lindstedt and Alexander Peya.
NextGen star Karen Khachanov out-rallies fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in this hot shot from the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Tuesday. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com Photo: Manuel Queimadelos/Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
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David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet get a special tour of the home of FC Barcelona. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Jordi Ramos / Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 18 April 2016.