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Updated: 23 hours 27 min ago

A New Chapter At No. 1 For Finland's Kontinen

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 8:45am

Henri Kontinen is the new No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, ending the 38-week stint of France’s Nicolas Mahut at the summit of the professional game. He is the first Finn and 50th player overall since the establishment of the team rankings in March 1976 to become World No. 1.

Just as hard-graft helped Jarkko Nieminen become world-class for a place in Finland’s sporting history, alongside the likes of Janne Ahonen, Mika Häkkinen, Sami Hyypiä and Teemu Selänne, Kontinen’s determination to succeed has also helped his talent blossom. In four short years, the 26 year old has risen from competing in ITF Futures tournaments on the comeback trail from injury, uncertain of his future, to today leading the team sport.

“In doubles, you win and lose as a team so you set shared goals,” Kontinen told ATPWorldTour.com. “I never set out to be No. 1, you always try to improve and string together results to build up confidence. But it’s pretty cool to know I’ve got to No. 1.”

When it became official, the 26-year-old Kontinen was fast asleep in Tampere, a city in southern Finland, in preparation to joining his friend at an ice hockey match on Friday. So it was the fate of a friend to inform ‘Henkka’ of the news that Nicholas Monroe and Jack Sock had beaten Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, the leaders of professional doubles over much of the past 15 years, at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

With the help of his Australian partner John Peers, Kontinen has risen from No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings 12 months ago. The pair has put together a 25-6 record since mid-October 2016 – picking up the Paris Masters, ATP Finals and Australian Open titles.

“It really is an amazing accomplishment for Henri to become World No. 1 and the first Finnish player to do so as well,” Peers told ATPWorldTour.com. “He continues to break records for Finnish tennis and the sky is the limit for him. It certainly is a great feeling to be able to do what we have done together so far. I am hoping this is just the start of what we can accomplish.”

But it could have been very different for the relaxed and easy-going Kontinen, who, aged 21 had two knee, two right wrist surgeries and shoulder problems on the horizon. It wasn’t until June 2013 that the likeable Finn felt ready to compete. Having moved with his family to the Czech Republic aged 15, competing at the highest level, for which he’d been touted, was a distant goal.

“It was hard to take and certainly the toughest moments of my career, being so young and realising that a career of playing tennis in the future might not happen,” Kontinen told ATPWorldTour.com. “Injuries are a part of the deal when you play sport. I was unlucky early on, but I worked hard on my fitness to get stronger, and now manage my knee and be careful.”

As Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer contested arguably the greatest match in tennis history: the 2008 Wimbledon final, 100 yards away on No. 1 Court, Grigor Dimitrov and Henri Kontinen were competing in the boys’ final. It proved to be a high point for the big fish of the junior world. Shortly after helping Finland to a 3-2 victory over Poland in a Davis Cup zonal tie in September 2011, Kontinen underwent surgery on a left knee injury that had gotten progressively worse.

Robert Lindstedt, who trained with Kontinen when he partnered Nieminen, told ATPWorldTour.com, "We all used the same physio, Jarmo Ahonen, and I used to go to Helsinki a lot. At one stage we were both so injured that we were not allowed to play tennis and we did fitness together. I told him in a text message the other day, who would have thought that all we were allowed to do was slowly jog around a track, years later he would be a Grand Slam champion and now World No. 1.”

“I love the sport, watch it and study it,” said Kontinen, who also grew up playing football and basketball. “When I turned my focus to doubles, upon returning from injuries on the Futures circuit with my former junior partner, Christopher Rungkat [winners of the 2008 Roland Garros boys’ doubles title], I had to learn and get used to where to position myself. In teaming up with John, he has helped me a lot with his greater doubles experience. So I've found that the best way is to learn as a team.”

In recent years, Kontinen has been able to develop and improve his game consisting of a huge serve, good feel at the net, a single-handed backhand and an attacking attitude. Relaxed and easy-going Kontinen combines finesse with serious firepower and an ability to focus and thrive on big points.

Today, it has helped him become the youngest player to reach No. 1 since the Bryans (aged 25) on 8 September 2003. Belarus’ Max Mirnyi was also 25 when he reached No. 1 for the first time on 9 June 2003.

TRIBUTES TO THE NEW WORLD NO. 1

Max Mirnyi: It’s great to see fresh, young blood in the game! Henri has shown that he is good all-around player and has been playing consistently for a couple of years already with winning some of our biggest tournaments. Congratulations, Henri, on accomplishing this special feat!!! Enjoy the leadership and continue to promote and grow the great game of doubles.

Nenad Zimonjic: I’d like to congratulate Henri, a relaxed and easy-going guy. He definitely deserves it as he’s been winning a lot. Rankings don’t lie and he’s now one of the youngest No. 1s in ATP history.

Jean-Julien Rojer: I would like to congratulate him for this amazing achievement. It is even more impressive for me because he's one of the younger doubles players on Tour and how quickly he's got up there. Everybody knew that he was super-talented and he's now put it together mentally as well. As good as he is on the court, he is off the court. He's a very nice, easy-going guy that everyone gets along with and very respectful. Congrats to him, and a tip of the cap!!

Horia Tecau: It's a well-deserved ranking for Henri. It's very impressive to reach No. 1 in such a short time being on Tour. Good for him! He's a complete player, owns all the weapons in the game and managed to dominate at the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 together with his partner, and the guy who deserves to get recognition for the No. 1 spot as well, John Peers.

Robert Lindstedt: He is one of the really nice guys on Tour and I am really happy for him. Not only because I have known him for so long, but also because I know the physical struggles he has had with injuries - and to overcome that is, to me, a true sign of a champion.

Treat Huey: Huge congratulations to Henri for reaching World No. 1. He's one of the younger doubles guys on the Tour right now and is an incredible shot maker. He's a good dude that enjoys himself on the court and Tour and he's going to be around the top of the game for many years to come.

Roger Won't Chase No. 1, But It May Come To Him

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 3:13am
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Let's be clear about one thing: While Roger Federer would welcome a thoroughly unexpected return to the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings, he has no interest in grinding his way back to World No. 1.

At 35, No. 1 is not the priority. Physically and mentally, it can't be. Winning Grand Slams and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, leading a balanced family life and staying healthy and motivated is what's most important to the Swiss, who holds the record for spending 302 weeks at the top spot.

Andre Agassi (33 years, 4 months) was the oldest man to reign as World No. 1. Federer, who was last No. 1 in October 2012, would be more than two years older than the American should he reclaim top spot later this year.

After sweeping the March Masters at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open presented by Itau, Federer said that he would likely shut it down this month and next before returning for Roland Garros (beginning 28 May). Currently 1,810 points clear of second-placed Rafael Nadal in the calendar-year Emirates ATP Race To London (a predictor of the year-end rankings), Federer’s sabbatical will see the Spaniard cut or possibly wipe out the Swiss’ lead in the Race during the clay swing.

ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, a former World No. 4 and a winner of 20 titles, says, “Right now Fed’s got a better than 50 percent chance of finishing the year No. 1. When you look at how far Djoker and Murray are behind, I think it's going to come down to Roger and Rafa.

“Roger has finished the year No. 1 five times and in four of those five times he's left Miami first in the Race. He told me after the match that he's not 24 anymore and that possibly he'll only play the French. That's three Masters 1000s out of the way, but he can finish No. 1 if he wins one of the last three majors, which is certainly possible. He belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of the seven greatest athletes of all time, along with Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.”

Federer told Gilbert and ESPN viewers on court that he was “focussing on the French, the grass and then the hard courts is going to be the key for me. And if things happen for World No. 1 that would be great, but I still believe I’m a long way away.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

Year-by-Year Emirates ATP Race To London Leaders After Miami

In eight of the previous 13 years, the player who was the Race leader after Miami went on to finish the season No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Current Race points leader Roger Federer has finished No. 1 five times and on four occasions he was the Race leader after Miami.

                                               Points                   Year-end No. 1 (Position after Miami)
2017 – Roger Federer             4,045                           ?
2016 – Novak Djokovic            4,340                     Andy Murray (No. 3)
2015 – Novak Djokovic            4,385                     Djokovic
2014 – Novak Djokovic            2,690                     Djokovic
2013 – Novak Djokovic            2,990                     Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
2012 – Novak Djokovic            3,540                     Djokovic
2011 – Novak Djokovic            4,725                     Djokovic
2010 – Andy Roddick              2,450                     Rafael Nadal (No. 6)
2009 – Rafael Nadal                3,605                      Roger Federer (No. 3)
2008 – Novak Djokovic             331 #                    Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
2007 – Roger Federer              276 #                     Federer
2006 – Roger Federer              492 #                     Federer
2005 – Roger Federer              450 #                     Federer
2004 – Roger Federer              379 #                     Federer

# Points based on old system

Later, in his press conference, Federer expanded on his goals for the rest of the season, saying, “Wimbledon has to be the biggest goal... but all of the grass really is important to me because I'll play Stuttgart and Halle there, too. Then of course I am looking very good for the [ATP] Finals, for the year-end championships, where I've been very successful. I like the indoors as well. So for me basically the second half of the season is a big priority now. That's why I'll take a break.”

Federer has opened a significant gap on the rest of the field in the Emirates ATP Race To London after winning the three biggest titles so far this year: The Australian Open and ATP World Tour Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami. At the beginning of the season it looked like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray would battle each other for No. 1, especially after they played an epic final in Doha in the first week of the season.

But unpredictability is one of the beauties of sport, and after a stunning first quarter of the season that no one saw coming, Murray (840 points) is 12th in the Race, 3,205 points adrift of Federer, and Djokovic (475) is 22nd, 3,570 points behind the Swiss. With Federer (4,045) first and Nadal (2,235) second, it feels more like 2007 than 2017.

Except for one thing: Gilbert believes Federer is playing better today than 10 years ago.

“I’ve been watching Roger since 1998 and in my humble opinion he is playing better tennis than at any point in his career,” Gilbert says. “He’s been forced to get better and he’s had to raise his backhand and return of serve. He’s playing more complete tennis. I look at the numbers and sometimes when something goes up, something goes down.  But Roger’s breaking five per cent more while still holding 90 per cent of the time. And he’s converting 50 per cent of break points.”

Federer is determined that another key measure – his fitness – also remains in positive territory, hence his decision to embark on an extended break now. “I'm not 24 anymore. I have to pick my moments where I can peak and stay healthy,” Federer said in his presser.

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“At the end of the day, I need to look out for my health, that I'm happy in all parts of my life, personal, private, on-court life, professional life, and I can't keep this pace up on every single day. Just too much and I'll run out. The desire will run out.

“I would rather take a step back and then really come back with a lot of energy and happiness. Then I can share that with everybody. Otherwise you'll see me here and you will see that all I want to do is get out of here. I don't want to be that guy. I really don't.”

After Another Big Title, Federer Reflects On 'Dream Run'

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 11:14pm
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It took three months, three “Big Titles” and a 19-1 start to the 2017 season, but Roger Federer has officially declared the “comeback” portion of his season finished. The 35 year old, who took five months off last year to rest his surgically repaired left knee, made the announcement after dominating another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Sunday for his third Miami Open presented by Itau title.

“The comeback is over,” Federer said. “I'm happy that nothing major happened throughout this period. It's been a dream run on the court, off the court as well. My body has reacted very well and I couldn't be happier, of course.”

Federer captured his 26th career Masters 1000 crown by beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in the South Florida sun. The Swiss also claimed his third “Sunshine Double” after winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last month. Federer has now won 11 consecutive matches and is 7-0 against Top 10 players in 2017.

Few, including Federer, would have predicted such a fast start three months ago when he began his comeback Down Under. All kinds of questions surrounded Federer, as he reminded on Sunday.

“Let's see how the knee is going to feel in Australia. How is the body going to be in the Middle East? How is the body going to be West Coast, East Coast?” Federer said, tracking his season, which started at the Australian Open, then went to Dubai and then Indian Wells and most recently Miami. “There is a lot of traveling, and the knee can act funny when you travel and fly transatlantic and all that stuff. It's not like I went home and all I did is take a warm shower. I had to do a lot of stretching, massage, and sleep well... I needed to be very professional to wake up every morning and be ready to compete.”

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Federer, who tore his meniscus in his left knee in January 2016, began this season with modest goals. “I told Severin, my coach, when I was warming up if I would have just played the Miami finals, no Indian Wells, no Australian Open, we would still be very happy right now,” Federer said. “But I have way more.”

For Federer, winning begets winning. The confidence he earned from his earlier titles in Australia and Indian Wells during his “comeback” helped him in Miami and against Nadal, whom he was playing for the 37th time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

“You win a big tournament like the Australian Open, or any big tournament for that matter, you can just bank on some confidence. That confidence gets you through a lot of the tough matches that nobody ever speaks about again,” Federer said.

In the third round, Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro to reach the Round of 16. There, he survived two tight tie-break sets against Roberto Bautista Agut to make it to the quarter-finals.

In the last eight, Federer had to save two match points to outlast Tomas Berdych 7-6(6) in the third set. In the semi-finals, Federer again came through in a third-set tie-break, beating Aussie Nick Kyrgios 7-6(5) in the decider. For the tournament, Federer was 6-1 in sets that ended in tie-breaks.

“I think I am definitely profiting from confidence, and then also from the right mindset. [I'm] able to compress all my energy into one single match and not be distracted by everything else going on around me,” Federer said.

Against Nadal, the Swiss star again focused on the match in front of him. “I was trying to remind myself just to play without pressure. Just do it one more time and go out there and be brave on the big points. I think I was able to do that,” Federer said. “I think it's been a challenging four weeks because you have to be focused for a long time. I was able to do that and I'm very happy.”

Federer now plans to take an extended break before playing Roland Garros and a full grass-court schedule.

Vote For March Masters Golden Hot Shot

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 10:52pm

Re-live eight great hot shots from the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open presented by Itau, and help crown the Golden Hot Shot from the season’s first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.

Watch the clips and cast your vote before the poll closes at 6pm CEST/noon EDT on Friday, 7 April. Here are the candidates:

Indian Wells
Del Potro Lands Tweener
Djokovic Quick Hands
Cuevas Left Bloodied & Bruised
Soares Goes Behind The Back

Miami
Federer Soft Hands
Nadal Laces Passing Shot
Kyrigos Hits Between The Legs Winner
Verdasco Rifles Mammoth Forehand

Subscribe to our Hot Shot playlist, and watch match replays on TennisTV.

Brain Game: Federer Thwarts Nadal's Serve +1 Plan

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 10:20pm

Never compromise what makes you great.

Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in a close Miami Open presented by Itau final, with Federer's forehand serving as the difference maker. Nadal's forehand, on the other hand, failed to have its usual impact in the match, primarily because he was not as committed to hitting it as much as he normally is – especially as the first shot after the serve.

With Federer winning their past three matches, it's understandable that Nadal was looking for variations and creases to his normal strategy. It’s smart to look for counter moves, offer different looks and to try to rattle the cage in Federer's mind. But ultimately, Nadal adjusted too far and strategically lost his way. His forehand got lost in the shuffle.

Nadal normally hits a forehand around 80 per cent of the time after his serve and wins approximately 65 per cent of those points. It's without question the engine room.

But in this final, Nadal hit forehands as his first shot after the serve exactly 50 per cent (22/44) of the time, drastically down from his career average. It may be as low as he has ever been in this strategic area on such a big stage.

Nadal Serve +1

• Serve +1 forehands = 50% (22/44)

• Serve +1 forehand win percentage = 55% (12/22)

• Serve +1 backhand win percentage = 41% (9/22)

As you would expect, Nadal won a higher percentage of Serve +1 forehands (55 per cent to 41 per cent). The last time Nadal defeated Federer was in the semi-final of the 2014 Australian Open. In that match, Nadal hit 73 per cent (45/62) Serve +1 forehands, winning a dominant 69 per cent (31/45) of those points. It’s that important, and then some.

Nadal is normally locked onto hitting Serve +1 forehands. For example, when he defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-2 in the 2015 ATP Finals, Nadal hit a Serve +1 forehand 89 per cent of the time (33/37).

The Spaniard normally loves to blast forehands through Federer's backhand. But the 2017 version of Federer's backhand is like nothing Nadal has ever seen, and in the process of adjusting to it, other parts of Nadal's game have suffered. Federer, on the other hand, dictated throughout the Miami final with his Serve +1 strategy, hitting a forehand after the serve 82 per cent of the time.

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Federer Serve +1

• Serve +1 forehands = 82% (32/39)

• Serve + 1 forehand win percentage = 63% (20/32)

• Serve +1 backhand win percentage = 71% (5/7)

Federer got to play in his comfort zone, racking up 19 forehand winners to Nadal's eight.

Serve Location

Nadal also went with secondary serve patterns much more than usual. It used to feel like Nadal directed 100 per cent of his serves at Federer's backhand, but in this match Federer actually hit more forehand returns (34) than backhands (26).

Of the 26 backhand returns Federer hit, he came over 24 of them, only slicing two because of the quality of Nadal's delivery. Federer's backhand return found Nadal's Serve +1 backhand eight times, while 14 went to the forehand, and four were return errors. Federer's new and improved backhand return is clearly wrecking havoc with Nadal's Serve +1 forehand intentions.

Federer stuck with his typical serve patterns, making Nadal hit 68 per cent (38/56) backhand returns for the match. In the deuce court, Nadal typically serves down the middle against Federer, but the Spaniard landed only five serves there, winning two of those points. By comparison, Nadal made 12 first serves out wide to Federer's forehand, winning just 50 per cent (6/12).

In the ad court, Nadal won a healthy 80 per cent (8/10) of his first serves out wide. The left-hander won 53 per cent (9/17) serving at the body in the deuce court and 67 per cent (8/12) in the ad court.

With Nadal serving at 3-4, 30/40 in the second set, with the match squarely on the line, he hit an 89 mph second serve at Federer's backhand. The Swiss stepped into the court and hit a backhand return down the line to Nadal's backhand. Nadal missed four Serve +1 backhands for the match, including this one, and Federer would serve the match out in the following game.

Nadal will ultimately look back at the four break points he didn't convert in the opening set as key moments that could have led to victory. One thing is for certain. Nadal must get back to doing what makes him so great against Federer. Nadal's forehand has more to do with the lopsided 23-14 scoreline he owns in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry than basically everything else combined.

Nadal: 'I Am Ready To Win Big Titles'

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 10:14pm
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On Sunday, Roger Federer put the rest of the ATP World Tour on notice, claiming his third title of the season at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Federer's run of dominance has been arguably the biggest storyline in 2017, but the Swiss does not stand alone. Despite falling 6-3, 6-4, Rafael Nadal is tied with his longtime rival atop the match wins leaderboard and after a strong fortnight in Miami, he says he is ready to challenge for big titles once again. The Spaniard believes his deep run at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event is representative of his resurgent form.

"I think I am close to where I need to be," said Nadal. "I am at a very high level of tennis and I believe I am ready to win these titles. I already played three finals this year and today I lost to a player that had lost only one match."

Two weeks ago, Federer was at his ruthless best against Nadal in Indian Wells, dropping just five games. On Sunday, the Miami final yielded the same outcome, but Nadal admits that it was a completely different match.

With both competitors surging to Top 5 returns in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the Spaniard, who will rise two spots to World No. 5, is looking to build on the momentum in the weeks and months to come. 

"For me, it was a much closer result than the result says and completely different than last week," Nadal added. "I have been playing well during the whole event. It was a positive tournament for me obviously. A lot of [Emirates ATP Rankings] points, a lot of confidence for the most important part of the season for me that's just in two weeks."

FedEx ATP Win/Loss Index (2017)

Player W-L Roger Federer 19-1 Rafael Nadal
19-4 Jack Sock
18-4 Grigor Dimitrov  17-4  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  17-4  David Goffin  17-7  Dominic Thiem  17-8 

Nadal was bidding to claim his first Miami title in his fifth final appearance and join Andre Agassi as the only players to win ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in their teens, 20s and 30s. 

The 30 year old next turns his attention to his most successful stretch of the year, as the European clay-court swing is set to commence in two weeks at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Following an impressive run on the North American hard courts, reaching the final in Acapulco, Round of 16 in Indian Wells and final in Miami, Nadal is confident for a strong run on his favourite surface. 

"I'm playing enough well to fight for everything I think. I have good hopes that I going to be ready for Monte-Carlo. Always when I am playing that well, on clay it helps a little bit more for me. I need to work hard to be ready for that. If I am ready for that, I think I am very excited about playing on clay again.

"I think about resting a little bit, having fun a little bit in Mallorca and I'll be happy to be back home after one-and-a-half months. Then I will start working hard on clay. That's my goal now. My goal is to feel ready to play on clay again and I know if I have good preparation and have a healthy transition to the clay and find my rhythm on clay, I can be one of those candidates."

Nadal will seek to make history on the clay, vying to become the first player to win 10 titles at a single tour-level event. He currently owns nine each in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros

Miami Open 2017 Hot Shots Of The Week

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 10:01pm
The 2017 Miami Open presented Itau has enjoyed a host of sublime hot shots. Here are the best from the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Florida. Watch live matches at tennistv.com.

Wawrinka, Thiem, Carreno Busta, Cuevas Eye Indian Wells QF Spots

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 3:22pm

• Top 10 players and Top 2 Pablos will battle in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals on Thursday when No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka meets No. 8 seed Dominic Thiem and No. 21 seed Pablo Carreno Busta faces No. 27 seed Pablo Cuevas. Three of the four boast one-handed backhands (Wawrinka, Thiem and Cuevas) and all four are bidding for their first Indian Wells semi-final.

• Wawrinka rallied Wednesday after lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka served for their fourth-round match twice. The top-ranked Swiss owns a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head 2 Head record against Thiem. He is 0-2 in Indian Wells quarter-finals, falling to Novak Djokovic in 2008 and Roger Federer in 2011. Wawrinka has reached as many ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals as Grand Slam finals (three).

• Thiem has not played Wawrinka since breaking into the Top 35 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on May 25, 2015. The Rio de Janeiro champion is already appearing in his eighth tournament of the season, spanning six countries, four continents and three surfaces. Thiem is 17-6 in 2017, tied with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov for the most wins on the ATP World Tour this season.

• Carreno Busta, who lost to Thiem in the Rio de Janeiro final, has played even more tennis than the Austrian this season (14-6 singles, 12-4 doubles). The 25-year-old is No. 23 in singles and No. 19 in doubles -- good for the second-highest combined ranking on tour behind Jack Sock (18s, 17d). Carreno Busta reached the quarter-finals following a bye, a walkover and two wins over qualifiers.

• Cuevas defeated Carreno Busta en route to the Sao Paulo title, which he won on Monday, March 6 at 7:36 pm local time following multiple rain delays. The Uruguayan started the year 1-4, including a first-round loss to World No. 138 Arthur De Greef as defending champion at Rio de Janeiro. Cuevas is 7-0 since then, including his fourth-round win over De Greef’s countryman David Goffin.

• Carreno Busta and Cuevas share more than a name. They captured the Rio de Janeiro doubles title on February 25 after saving a match point against Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the semis. Thursday’s match is the biggest singles quarter-final of their respective careers. Carreno Busta and Cuevas are both appearing in their first ATP Masters 1000 or Grand Slam quarter-final.

• Fifteen of the Top 20 singles players in the Emirates ATP Rankings were in the BNP Paribas Open doubles draw. None reached the semi-finals, which begin on Thursday with No. 6 seeds Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram against Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey. Klaasen and Ram, the Delray Beach champions, eliminated Rafael Nadal in the second round and Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

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Watch your favourite players work on their games by taking in a live stream at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

View Indian Wells TV Schedule

My Masters 1000: Pablo Cuevas

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:35pm

Pablo Cuevas is no stranger to success at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. In 2015, he clinched the doubles title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. In 2016, the 31-year-old reached the singles fourth round at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Uruguayan has advanced to his first singles ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week. Cuevas tells ATPWorldTour.com about his Masters 1000 favourites and dreams.

Which ATP World Tour Masters 1000 host city is your favourite and why?
I love Rome. I remember studying its history at school, with the mythology, the architecture, the city in general… And the club is really nice. When you walk around, with all those statues… The Pietrangeli court is one of the most beautiful ones on Tour.

Which Masters 1000 would you most want to win and why?
I had the honour to win Rome in 2015 in doubles [w/David Marrero], but if I had to pick one for singles, I would say probably one in Europe or the United States. However, all the Masters 1000 are the same in terms of importance so any one would be great.

What is your favourite off-court memory at a Masters 1000?
For me there is not one in particular, but I love the fact that loads of people come to watch tennis, especially in Indian Wells and Miami, the two places where you can also do a lot of off-court activities. I remember I went fishing once in Miami for an activity and that was great.

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What do you consider to be your best Masters 1000 win?
Miami, 2011. I beat Andy Roddick there in two sets [6-4, 7-6(4)].

What is your dream match at a Masters 1000 (who would you play & at which tournament)?
Well, to make it a dream match I should win. That’s a must. Then, the rival could be any of the Big Four, those four players who are making history in our sport: Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer], [Andy] Murray or [Novak] Djokovic. In any venue. Actually, an outdoor one.

Which player/champion would you consider to be the toughest competitor in Masters 1000 history?
It really depends on the surface but I would say Murray and Djokovic are the toughest ones on hard court and Rafa, (Stan) Wawrinka and also Djokovic on clay courts.

Which Masters 1000 tournament has the rowdiest fans?
Miami for sure. Although it’s true that we get a lot of support at every Masters 1000 and all the crowds are very respectful.

Federer, Kyrgios, Wawrinka Win In Indian Wells 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 7:17am
Watch Wednesday highlights from the 2017 BNP Paribas Open, where there were victories from Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka. Watch live matches at tennistvcom. Photo: Getty Images

Nadal: 'I Didn't Have The Answer For His Returns'

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 6:59am

When Roger Federer is blitzing backhands off the ground from the outset, Rafael Nadal knows he is going to have to be on his game. So when the three-time champion succumbed to his Swiss rival 6-2, 6-3 in little more than an hour at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday he admitted he did not come up with the answers when it mattered most.

Nadal will shift his focus to capturing an elusive Miami Open presented by Itau crown now, having finished runner-up in Florida four times. He leaves knowing what he has to do next time to break a three-match losing streak against Federer – the first time he has lost as many matches in succession in their 36th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

“I think it was always that he returned well. But at the same time, it was obvious that I didn't have the right answer for his returns,” Nadal said. “I needed to neutralise the points. I needed to neutralise his two first balls, and I didn't … I was not good enough tonight to make that happen and he deserved the victory, for sure.”

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Nadal was only able to muster one break point opportunity in the match and it came after he dropped his opening service game. He was not able to break the 36 year old’s serve throughout.

“I need to hit longer and I need to hit higher to create problems [for him],” Nadal said. “I was not able to do that, and then he [had the] advantage.

“The worst thing in that match for me was from the beginning I was at a disadvantage - broken the first game of the match, and then broken in the second game of the second set. So that's so difficult to play against Roger this way.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

 The 30 year old was determined not to dwell on the fourth-round defeat for long. “When you feel that you are playing bad or you are in a bad moment, maybe it stays a little bit longer in your mind,” he said. “It is not my case.

 “I started the season great, playing great tennis, winning a lot of matches. Today I didn't play my best, but I am really confident I’m going to play well in Miami [next] week.” 

NextGenATP Stars Impress At Irving Challenger 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:42am
Five NextGenATP stars - Borna Coric, Jared Donaldson, Karen Khachanov, Andrey Rublev and Frances Tiafoe - are making headlines at the Irving Challenger.

In Form Sock Relishes Opportunity At Indian Wells 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:42am
Jack Sock reflects on reaching his third straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final and looks ahead to facing Kei Nishikori at the BNP Paribas Open. Watch live matches at tennistvcom.

Confident Kyrgios Expects Federer Test At Indian Wells 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:42am
Nick Kyrgios insists growing confidence helped him to back-to-back wins over Novak Djokovic and he looks ahead to a BNP Paribas Open quarter-final against Roger Federer. Watch live matches at tennistvcom.

Federer Delighted By Nadal Win At Indian Wells 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:42am
Roger Federer expresses his delight at beating his long-time rival Rafael Nadal on Wednesday for a place in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals. Watch live matches at tennistvcom.

Kubot/Melo Deny Kyrgios/Zimonjic To Reach SF

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:38am

Eighth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo are through to the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals after breezing past tricky wild card duo, Nick Kyrgios and Nedad Zimonjic on Wednesday. The Polish-Brazilian pair posted a 6-1, 6-3 result, breaking four times in the 56-minute outing.

Kubot/Melo will take on fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno after the highest-seeded duo remaining edged past the Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 7-6(5), 6-4.

 Watch Full Match Replays

Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram ended the run of Novak Djokovic and Victor Troicki on Wednesday night. The South African-American duo took down the unseeded Serbians 3-6, 6-2, 10-6 in one hour and 12 minutes to secure a showdown with another unseeded pair, Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey.

Djokovic and Troicki had sprung the upset on top seeds and defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the second round but were unable to build on their momentum in the quarter-finals after taking the opening set against the No. 5 seeds. Muller and Querrey – runners-up already this season in Brisbane – surprised third seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers in their quarter-final, 6-7(2), 6-3, 10-6.

Federer Thumps Double Hot Shot At Indian Wells 2017

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 4:01am
Roger Federer pulls off two impressive backhand hot shots against Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Watch live matches at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images

Stan Escapes To Return To Indian Wells QFs

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 3:39am
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Stan Wawrinka overcame a spirited effort from 21-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) on Wednesday to return to the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals for the third time. The Swiss star had to dig against Nishioka, who was trying to gain his first win against a Top 10 player and become the first lucky loser in tournament history, since 1976, to reach the quarter-finals.

The Swiss right-hander will try to reach his first Indian Wells semi-final when he meets Gael Monfils or Dominic Thiem in the last eight. Wawrinka also reached the quarter-finals in 2008 (l. to Djokovic) and 2011 (l. to Federer).

He struggled from the outset on Wednesday evening, though, as Nishioka chased down most everything and frustrated the big-hitting right-hander with his loopy left-handed forehand. Nishioka broke Wawrinka to begin their fourth-round match, when Wawrinka sprayed a sitting forehand long, one of his 21 unforced errors in the first set, compared to four winners.

 Watch Full Match Replays

It was the first time Wawrinka had lost his serve in Indian Wells this year. He had held 21 consecutive times to start the tournament. He settled his game in the second set, though, twice breaking Nishioka to force a decider. But Nishioka again jumped on top to start the third set, crushing a forehand that bounced off the line and jammed the Swiss star.

But with the match on the line, Wawrinka showed how he's earned his plethora of nicknames – 'Stan The Man', 'Stanimal' – throughout the years. The 31 year old twice broke Nishioka when he tried to serve out the match, at 5-4 and 6-5. On his second match point during the tie-break, Wawrinka belted a forehand that even the speedy Nishioka couldn't track down, and Wawrinka raised his arms in celebration – and relief.

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Wawrinka goes on to face eighth seed Dominic Thiem, who defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in the last match of the day. The Austrian needed just 68 minutes to advance, breaking Monfils three times as he denied the Frenchman his 400th tour-level win.

Wawrinka leads Thiem 2-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, though this will be their first clash in almost two years. The 23-year-old Thiem is bidding to reach his first Masters 1000 semi-final and build on his recent good run of form, which saw him win his eighth ATP World Tour title last month on clay in Rio de Janeiro (d. Carreno Busta).

Federer Stuns Nadal In Straight Sets

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:53am

Channeling the same game plan that reaped the ultimate reward in the Australian Open final in January, Roger Federer has put on a stunning display of aggression to defeat fifth seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The four-time champion prevailed 6-2, 6-3 to set a quarter-final showdown with Australian Nick Kyrgios, after the Australian’s earlier upset of defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Federer’s victory marked the first time he had defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, following his five-set triumph in Melbourne in January and a three-set win in the 2015 Basel final.

The last time Nadal tasted victory was in the 2014 Australian Open semi-finals. This was the first time the pair had squared off before the quarter-finals since their first meeting in the 2004 Miami Open third round.

Read About Every Match Roger & Rafa Have Played

“It's a nice feeling to win the last three, I can tell you that,” Federer said. "But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career.

“Basel was special, too, for many reasons, because I used to be a ballboy there. After the Australian hype, to play here in America right away, all of them are very special.

“All the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing. So I take it. Obviously I can't celebrate too long this time around. I have to get back to work in a couple of days.”

Nadal had worked himself into a winning position when he led a break for 3-1 in the fifth set in the Australian Open decider before losing the final five games of the match. In the Californian desert on Wednesday, however, he was never given a sniff of hope.

“In Australia, it was a very close match. I had good chances to win,” Nadal said. “Today, not. Today he played better than me … These kind of matches, when you're not playing your match, it is impossible to win.

“When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed.”

Read Nadal Reaction: 'I Didn't Have The Answer For His Returns'

Next up, a revenge mission against the 21-year-old 15th seed, Kyrgios. The only time prior the pair has met, it was the Australian who emerged victorious in the round of 32 at the ATP World Tour Madrid Masters in 2015.

“I'm very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back weeks, on Novak's best surface,” Federer said. “I hope it's going to lead to something great for Nick, that he realises if he puts his head down and focuses that he can bring it, day in and day out, week in and week out.

“When it matters the most against the best and in finals, he's there … Of course I'd like to get him back.”

A four-time champion in Indian Wells, Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry against Nadal. The Swiss ninth seed secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep the three-time champion on the back foot.

Federer brought up a break point in the opening game and converted when Nadal shanked a forehand into the stands for 1-0. He faced just his first break point of the tournament in the subsequent game but steadied to hold for 2-0 and would not face another for the remainder of the match.

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The Swiss delivered impressively off the backhand wing. His fifth backhand winner of the first set was followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1.

He secured the double break off a spectacular backhand return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes. He would close out the opening set in style as he threaded back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealed it on his first with a serve-volley winner after 34 minutes.

“I think the backhand has gotten better because I have been able to put in so many hours with the [new] racquet now,” Federer said of his more aggressive approach off the backhand. “Really, since this year I feel super comfortable with the racquet, and I think I have also gained confidence stepping into it.

“I think all my coaches throughout my career have told me to go more for the backhand, but I used to shank more. So maybe deep down I didn't always believe that I had it in the most important moments. But I think that's changing little by little, which I'm very happy about.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however.

His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1 and now redlining, the pressure from the 36-year-old Swiss was relentless. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drew the error from a looping backhand.

Nadal was rarely in control of a point throughout and when serving to stay in the match, a forehand clipped the net and failed to trickle over handing Federer two match points. He took it on his first with a crisp backhand return winner into the corner, capping a complete performance in which his backhand, return of serve and net approaches were on song.

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Kyrgios Sprints And Rips Hot Shot Past Djokovic

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:37am
Novak Djokovic tries to catch Nick Kyrgios off guard but the Aussie sprints and rips a backhand hot shot past the defending champion at the BNP Paribas Open. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Getty Images photo.