Watch highlights of the 2016 TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open final, featuring Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov.
Kei Nishikori looks back on the clay swing so far and his memories of a run to the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open final. Watch live online at TennisTV.com.
Rafael Nadal, buoyed with confidence, looks forward to trying to win a fifth Mutua Madrid Open title and a 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. Watch live online at TennisTV.com.
Watch highlights of the 2016 BMW Open by FWU AG final, featuring Philipp Kohlschreiber and Dominic Thiem.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, competing at the Mutua Madrid Open for the first time since 2013, aims to capture at 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. Watch live online at TennisTV.com.
Tomas Berdych, the 2012 runner-up, looks ahead to the Mutua Madrid Open and what challenges the week presents. Watch live online at TennisTV.com.
There are 11 main draw singles matches and one doubles match on Monday’s schedule, with four Spaniards in action at La Caja Mágica, including No. 9 seed David Ferrer, one of five seeds in action along with No. 10 Richard Gasquet, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 12 David Goffin and No. 16 Gilles Simon.
Madrid native Feliciano Lopez opens the day’s action on Manolo Santana, in a rematch with Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer who ousted the left-hander in the second round a year ago. Lopez is the only player in the tournament’s 15-year history to participate in every singles draw (since 2002) and has an 18-14 career record in his hometown tournament, reaching the QFs four times (2003, ‘07-08 and ’14). After withdrawing from Houston and Barcelona with shoulder tenditinis, Mayer opened his European clay court campaign with a run to the Estoril quarters, where he lost to eventual champion Nicolas Almagro.
Two-time semi-finalist Ferrer, one of three Spaniards making his 14th consecutive appearance here (along with Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco), faces compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the final match on Madrid’s main show court. This is the third year in succession that Garcia-Lopez has faced a fellow Spaniard in the first round in Madrid. Last year he lost in three sets to Verdasco – which, like this year’s match-up with Ferrer, was the only all-Spanish first-round showdown in the draw – while in 2014 he beat Pablo Andujar.
A quartet of Frenchmen are also in action on Monday, led by No. 10 seed Gasquet who faces qualifier and main-draw debutant Roberto Carballes Baena. All four of the Spaniard’s match wins in 2016 have come on clay, including last week’s first-round win at Istanbul (d. Ilhan) – his first ATP Tour-level match win since February’s run to the Sao Paulo quarters (l. to Carreno Busta). Gilles Simon, the No. 16 seed who reached the final here when the tournament was a hard-court event in 2008 (l. to Murray), takes on Marcos Baghdatis, back in Madrid for the first time since 2013 and looking for his 300th ATP World Tour level match win (299-222 record). Qualifiers Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Lucas Pouille also make their Madrid main-draw debuts, with Herbert taking on Sam Querrey and Pouille up against No. 12 seed Goffin.
Back in the Top 10 Emirates ATP Rankings this week for the first time since October 2015, Raonic takes on Brazilian left-hander Thomaz Bellucci, who pushed him to two tie-break sets in their previous meeting in Shanghai last year. Raonic, the No. 11 seed, has a 22-20 career record against left-handers; this is his first match against a southpaw in 2016. Fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil takes on 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek to round out Monday’s action on Arantxa Sanchez.
Diego Schwartzman rallied from the brink of elimination in the final of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open to clinch his maiden ATP World Tour title with a 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-0 victory over top seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Schwartzman is the second first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year, joining Nick Kyrgios (Marseille).
Schwartzman spoke to ATPWorldTour.com after his victory.
Was this something you dreamed about when growing up and as a junior?
Yes of course. Ever since I started playing I imagined winning a tournament and have a week like the one I just had. I've been working very hard and perhaps the first months of the season were not the best, but I kept working hard alongside my team and my family. At this point I did not expect such a good week and playing this well, but I knew I was going to compete well because last year I played very well and I liked the conditions here.
Last year you lost to Roger Federer in semi-finals and this year you won the tournament and made the doubles final. How special is Istanbul for you?
It is amazing and I will never forget this place. It was my second doubles final, my first title and my first singles final. Last year I was close to beating Federer in semi-finals, an idol for all the tennis players. So it will be very difficult to forget this city.
How did you prepare for the final?
As with the other matches. I had very difficult matches and last night I did not sleep well. I woke up a few times and was sweating a lot, like when you have fever. I was very nervous, but I knew that despite being tired I would compete well and that it would be a very close final.
Now that you won your first title, what is your main goal for the rest of the season?
Trying to win games like I did here, to be more consistent and win big matches in tournaments like this. I will work very hard to do it.
Which person has helped you the most during your career so far?
Everybody. My friends and my family, coaches I had since I was a child and the whole team that is behind me right now. Everyone did their part to get this victory.
In your game, what do you have to improve and what do you consider your strengths?
The strength is the intensity in my legs and the desire to compete in every game. I think this week I could bring the best out of these things. I started losing most of my matches but I could recover. That makes me very happy, but I have to keep improving in all the aspects of the game: my physical strength, my tennis and serve… [I need to] try to improve my percentages as well as I did in this tournament.
Which were your idols as a kid?
I always look to Guillermo Coria, David Nalbandian. Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Canas, all of what we called 'The Legion'. I saw all of them when I was growing up. We had three Top 10 players, so it was amazing to all the kids to look at them at that time. So I consider them my idols.
What do you like to do besides playing tennis?
I try to have a regular live. Hang out with my friends, go for a dinner, eating ‘asado’ [a traditional food in Argentina], going to football matches… I try to go anytime I can but it is not to often. Watching football is something that is fun for me, and I also enjoy talking to people about this sport.
It was exactly one year ago that Andy Murray took the European clay-court season by storm. The Scot notched his first title on the dirt in Munich and would dominate the Mutua Madrid Open field, capturing the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown over home favourite Rafael Nadal.
Back in the Spanish capital, Murray is eyeing a successful title defence but the World No. 2 was quick to point out he's taking nothing for granted.
"Any time you can win a big event it's important, but I'm not really thinking about that just now," said Murray to the assembled media in his pre-tournament press conference. "It's quite different conditions here obviously playing at altitude. There are no easy matches. I'm here to try and hopefully play at a high level. If I do that, I give myself a chance to win. But obviously I like the conditions here. They are good for me. Hopefully I can play well."
Murray was ruthless at the Caja Magica, not dropping a set against three fellow Top 10 opponents - Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals, Kei Nishikori in the semis and two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the final. Having lacked comfort on the clay in previous years, the 28 year old points to his success in Madrid as a significant moment in his development on the surface.
"I think expectations for me have changed obviously because of last year. Winning is important. I won on the clay last year which was good, but it was more the way I played. I played very well. Even in Monte-Carlo the match against Raonic and also for large parts the match against Rafa in Monte-Carlo was very good.
"That gives me belief, but also I then expect to play better than I maybe did in the past. I don't see any reason why I can't maintain that level and give myself a chance in the next few events."
Murray will open against either qualifier Radek Stepanek or Vasek Pospisil. A potential third-round encounter against Gilles Simon looms, as does eighth seed Tomas Berdych or ninth seed David Ferrer in the quarters.
A rematch against Nadal could happen in the semis, with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic a potential final opponent. Murray assessed his recent practice sessions with both players.
"It went really well," Murray said of his trip to Nadal's hometown of Manacor last week. "I practised with Raonic for a couple days and practiced with Rafa for a couple days. The first day just was with my coach there... The best practice you can get was to go there and get to practice with two guys that are in the Top 10 and probably the best clay-court player of all-time. That was the best practice and preparation I could get, so that was why I decided to go there. It worked out well."
"The reason to practice with him was not to scare him," Murray added, referring to his hit with Djokovic on Saturday. "I think everyone prepares for tournaments to try to give themselves the best chance to play well when the tournament starts. Getting to practice with the best player in the world is great preparation for me. I've had some good practices against the best players. That's very important. I don't get that when I'm back home, so I need to make the most of it when I'm at these events."
The Mutua Madrid Open got underway on Sunday.
How does it feel to win your first ATP Challenger Tour title?
It's a good step. Two years ago, I won my first Futures and now I won my first Challenger. I'm still ranked around No. 200, so it's a good step, but it doesn't mean I'm done.
How do you set your goals? Do you compare yourself to guys who are in the Top 10 or do you think about where you want to see yourself in the long term?
I'm looking at the future, three or four years later and where I want to be. I know I'm not the best junior because there are a lot of players in the Top 100, but maybe my career will be longer than them or my game will come later. Maybe one day I'll be Top 100. I'm not too worried. I just need to be patient and keep working very hard.
How much of your game plan in the final was to return aggressively?
The return is one of my favorite shots, so I'm always trying to be aggressive with it. I didn't want to get into long rallies with him, so the return and being aggressive at the beginning of the point was important. I know that sometimes I can miss easy balls with the return, like I did in the first set tie-break, so I just need to be patient and wait for the right opportunities.
How do you feel your movement and fitness is now?
I think it's much better now. At the Australian Open, I won my first match after four hours. And in the final here, I was feeling good at the end of the match and Frances wasn't moving as well. I don't know if I'm in better shape than him, but I'm in better shape now than I was.
There were five straight breaks early in the third set. What was going on?
I think it was tough to play and tough to serve because we were both hitting well. But whether you win your serve or lose your serve, you just have to focus on winning the match. It doesn't matter you if you lose your serve once or three times.
Where does this put you in terms of Roland Garros?
Now I'm in qualifying, but I hope to get a wild card into the main draw. I'm going to play the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bordeaux next. I just need to keep everything that was good this week, keep working hard and play every match as best as I can.
How will you celebrate your win?
I will go and see a little bit of Tallahassee tonight. A good drink, a good dinner and then back home tomorrow.
A LOOK BACK
Santaizi Challenger (Taipei, Taiwan): No. 6 seed Daniel Evans won his second ATP Challenger Tour title of 2016 and the fourth of his career, narrowly defeating No. 8 seed Konstantin Kravchuk at the $75,000 event, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Evans previously won this March at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Drummondville, Canada. The win also brings him inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career, where he’ll land this week at No. 97.
Despite the loss, Kravchuk defended his finalist points from last year and also successfully snapped an eight-match losing streak in semi-finals in ATP Challenger Tour events.
Kunming Open (Anning, China): No. 2 seed Jordan Thompson won his second ATP Challenger Tour of the year and the biggest of his career at this $100,000 tournament, convincingly defeating No. 7 seed Mathias Bourgue in the final, 6-3, 6-2. The Australian also won this February in Cherbourg, France. Thompson barely made it to the weekend after saving five match points in his quarter-final against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. The win this week also enabled him to make his debut inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, where he’ll finish at No. 90.
Prosperita Open (Ostrava, Czech Republic): In a championship match between two players competing in their first ATP Challenger Tour final at the $50,000 event, Constant Lestienne won his maiden title by prevailing over wild card Zdenek Kolar, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2. He becomes the eighth first-time winner of 2016 and the sixth different French titlist of the year.
Despite the loss, the week was a breakthrough for Zolar. Coming in at No. 487 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 19-year-old was looking to become the second-lowest ranked winner this year (only beghind Blake Mott at No. 721, who prevailed in Launceston, Australia).
Tallahassee Tennis Challenger (Tallahassee, Florida): In an all #NextGen final, Quentin Halys won his first ATP Challenger Tour title by prevailing over Frances Tiafoe, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2. The championship match was the third all-teenage final on the ATP Challenger Tour since October; prior to that, none were contested since 2007. Halys also brought the win streak of French teenagers in Challenger finals to seven, dating back to 2005. He joins an illustrious list of players who have helped build that streak, including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
2016 ATP Challenger Tour Teen Titlists
Title Taylor Fritz
18 years, 2 months
Happy Valley (AUS)
18 years, 4 months
19 years, 6 months
19 years, 9 months
Meanwhile, Tiafoe is still looking for his first ATP Challenger Tour title and now drops to 0-3 in finals. He also lost in the championship match in Tallahassee last year.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Thompson: "Top 100 is an unreal feeling. I've worked towards this for a long time now and I'm glad I've got there. It came pretty quickly but it's definitely been my goal this year. My ranking should get me into the Grand Slams and ATP events, so I'm pretty happy about that."
Halys: "It's a good step. Two years ago, I won my first Futures event and now I won my first Challenger. It's a good step, but it doesn't mean I'm done.”
A LOOK AHEAD
There are four challengers on the calendar this week, with the $100,000 event in Aix-en-Provence, France, taking top billing. Two players ranked in the Top 100 are in the draw, with World No. 65 Lukas Rosol and World No. 87 Diego Schwartzman coming in as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Schwartzman won this tournament in 2014. Other notables names in the draw include No. 5 seed Mischa Zverev, who won last month in Sarasota, Florida; No. 6 seed and #NextGen star Elias Ymer, who also lifted a title last month in Barletta, Italy; and 2014 Roland Garros men’s doubles champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The $100,000 tournament in Busan, Korea, also returns for the 14th consecutive year. Four players inside the Top 100 are competing, with No. 1 seed Ricardas Berankis looking to continue his recent hot streak in ATP Challenger Tour events in Asia. 2012 runner-up John Millman is the No. 2 seed, defending champion and local favourite Hyeon Chung is the No. 3 seed and Sam Groth is the No. 4 seed. Other notable names in the draw include 2012 champion and No. 5 seed Tatsuma Ito, and 2009 champion Go Soeda.
The staple challenger in Karshi, Uzbekistan, also returns for the 10th consecutive year. World No. 79 Dudi Sela, a winner this March at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Shenzhen, China, is the No. 1 seed, while #NextGen star Karen Khachanov is the No. 2 seed. Other notable names include No. 3 seed Radu Albot, as well as former world No. 72 and No. 4 seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Lastly, the always-popular $50,000 challenger in Rome, Italy, returns for the 15th consecutive year. Three players ranked in the Top 100 are in the draw, with Jiri Vesely as the No. 1 seed and #NextGen star Kyle Edmund as the No. 2 seed. Other notable names in the draw include Adam Pavlasek, the No. 4 seed and last year’s finalist; Jordan Thompson, the No. 6 seed and recent winner in Anning, and 2013 runner-up Filippo Volandri
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.
Flavio Cipolla and Dudi Sela captured their first ATP World Tour doubles titles, edging Diego Schwartzman and Andres Molteni 6-3, 5-7, 10-7 at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open
"We've been having so much fun," said Cipolla. "It's been a wonderful week together. I want to congratulate Diego and Andres on a great week and thanks to the crowd. They've been great. It's been a fantastic tournament."
The Italian-Israeli duo emerged victorious at 10:40pm local time, converting on their fifth championship point. Schwartzman and Molteni turned aside four previous chances deep in the second set and reeled off four straight games from 3-5 down to force a Match Tie-break. But 32-year-old Cipolla and 31-year-old Sela held their nerve, prevailing after one hour and 28 minutes.
"I really love it here in Turkey," added Sela. "It's very close to home. Great food here and a great city. I think me, Flavio and Diego are the shortest players on the tour and we're all on the court."
Cipolla, a 23-time ATP Challenger Tour doubles champion, and Sela, a four-time Challenger winner, were contesting their first finals at the tour-level in their team debut. They split €23,050 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points.
Schwartzman, meanwhile, was bidding to lift his second trophy of the day after winning his maiden ATP World Tour singles title (d. Dimitrov). The last player to do so was Lleyton Hewitt in Newport 2014. Schwartzman fell to 0-2 in doubles finals, while Molteni was appearing in his first.
Dimitrov's meltdown leads to Schwartzman win
Irina-Camelia Begu fought through a stirring three-setter against Garbiñe Muguruza, taking out the No.3 seed in nearly three hours.
Former No.1 Victoria Azarenka kept up her winning ways at the Mutua Madrid Open, easing through in straight sets over Alizé Cornet.
No.5 seed Petra Kvitova had little trouble advancing to the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open with a straightforward win over Charleston finalist Elena Vesnina.
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Nicolas Almagro stormed back from a set down to win the final of the Millennium Estoril Open 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-3 against fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. Almagro earned his first tour-level title since Nice 2012. It was the 30 year old’s 13th ATP World Tour title.
"Every event is tough with Roland Garros coming up, things are really tight," said Almagro. "It's great to win a title after so long, it was a battle today with Pablo, who was playing really well. I've improved during the week, I've been losing a lot of matches that I should have won. I'm looking for my tennis again. But I'm gaining more confidence with my game."
Almagro overcame plenty of adversity on Sunday. He twice failed to serve out the opening set and led the first-set tie-break 6-2 before dropping six points in a row. In the second set, he let slip a 5-4 lead before recovering in another tie-break to push the match to a deciding set.
In securing the win on his third match point after almost three hours, Almagro improved to 13-10 in tour-level finals, all on clay. He struck 12 aces and finished with a tournament-best 45 in five matches.
Almagro earned 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €82,450. Carreno Busta, who was aiming for his maiden ATP World Tour title, took home 150 points and €43,430.