What Nadal Has Not Done On Clay

Rafael Nadal, who is pursuing his 12th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell this week, has accomplished virtually everything a player can on clay in his career. But at 32, there are some still things Nadal has not done.

The Spaniard still has not lost consecutive matches on the surface. At all levels, Nadal has dropped just 45 clay-court matches. In the 44 matches that have come after those defeats, he has lost a combined six sets. The Spaniard won 30 sets in those matches by a margin of 6-0 or 6-1.

In 2011, Novak Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. And in the Spaniard’s next match, John Isner took a two-sets-to-one lead at Roland Garros before the lefty battled back to advance and eventually win the title. That was the closest Nadal ever came to losing back-to-back clay-court matches.

Nadal will look to keep it that way on Wednesday when the top seed faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona. Nadal owns a 5-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 63, winning 13 of 14 sets in their rivalry.

In other action, #NextGenATP Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will both open their campaigns. Auger-Aliassime begins play on Pista Rafa Nadal against Tunisian Malek Jaziri.

Felix, the 16th seed, is making his debut at the ATP 500 event. Shapovalov, who reached the semi-finals in Madrid on clay last year, opens against Houston champion Cristian Garin.

Wild card and former World No. 3 David Ferrer, competing in Barcelona for the last time, will try to spring an upset against 15th seed Lucas Pouille. Ferrer cruised past German Mischa Zverev in 65 minutes on Tuesday.

Also in action are Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini, Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Karen Khachanov.

Research courtesy of Michael Hastin.

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Djere, Eyeing Second Title, Holds Off Gulbis

Fifth seed Laslo Djere recovered from letting two match points slip in the second set and beat Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(2) on Tuesday at the Hungarian Open.

Djere led 6/4 in the second-set tie-break and served for the match at 6/5, but Gulbis staved off the match points to force a decider. The six-time ATP Tour titlist then served for the match at 5-4 in the third before Djere broke back and won the final seven points of the tie-break.

The Serbian will next meet 17-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner or Hungarian wild card Mate Valkusz. Djere won his maiden ATP Tour title in February at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

Sixth seed John Millman routed #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who made the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in March, 6-1, 6-2. The Aussie, who made his maiden ATP Tour final last year in Budapest, will next face Hungarian wild card Attila Balazs, who beat Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4.

Robin Haase held off Italy's Thomas Fabbiano 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with No. 2 seed Borna Coric, and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who made the third round at last week's Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, beat lucky loser Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-3, 6-2.

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Thiem Breezes Past Schwartzman In Barcelona

Third seed Dominic Thiem ended a two-match losing streak against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the third round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The 25-year-old Austrian broke Schwartzman six times as the Argentine struggled with his serve, winning just over half of his first-serve points and hitting seven double faults.

Thiem made the 2017 Barcelona final (l. to Nadal) and will next meet home favourite Jaume Munar, who made the semi-finals of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals last November.

Munar ousted #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe, the 14th seed, 6-4, 6-3 to improve his FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage against Tiafoe to 2-0, which also includes his win at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

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To start his clay-court season, the 21-year-old Munar upset No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech. Last week, the Spaniard made the second round (l. to Coric) of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

German Jan-Lennard Struff upset 10th seed David Goffin of Belgium 7-6(6), 6-3 and will meet the winner between fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

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Nishikori Fights Back, Ferrer Advances In Barcelona

Two-time former champion Kei Nishikori recovered from a slow start to record his 20th match win at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Tuesday. The fourth-seeded Japanese star bounced back from 1-4 in the first set to win 12 of the next 15 games in a 7-5, 6-2 second-round victory over American Taylor Fritz in one hour and 41 minutes. He will next play Canadian No. 16 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, who needed two hours and 42 minutes to overcome Delbonis’ compatriot, lucky loser Guido Andreozzi, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2.

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Four-time former finalist David Ferrer, who intends to retire after competing at Mutua Madrid Open in two weeks' time, lost just 11 of his service points in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Mischa Zverev of Germany in 65 minutes. The 2008-09, 2011-12 runner-up will next prepare to meet French No. 15 seed Lucas Pouille in the second round.

Elsewhere, in other first-round action, 19-year-old Spaniard Nicola Kuhn recorded the biggest win of his career over qualifier and No. 76-ranked Argentine Federico Delbonis 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 30 minutes.

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Cilic: Why I Took A Wild Card Into Budapest

It has not been the best start to the 2019 ATP Tour season for Marin Cilic, who last month fell from the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since October 2016. But the World No. 11 is confident that with more matches, starting at this week’s Hungarian Open in Budapest where he is the top seed as a wild card, his best form will come.

“Mentally, physically, [I’m] feeling good. The beginning of the season wasn’t that great for me, had some probems with the knee. Just a little bit in-and-out with my form with that and these past three, four tournaments that I played,” Cilic said. “I was looking to get into form and didn’t find it yet, but mentally I know that I’m working well, practising well and just looking to play a few matches and I know the tournament form is going to get to a good level.”

Cilic did not originally plan to compete at this ATP 250 tournament. But after losing his third consecutive match last week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he wanted to try to gain more rhythm, accepting a wild card into Budapest.

“I didn’t have as many matches these past couple months as I would want to so it’s a good opportunity here to play,” Cilic said. “I also saw that last year’s tournament was really good and that was [what helped] my decision.”

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Cilic has accomplished plenty in his career, from reaching a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and winning 18 tour-level titles to beating 32 Top 10 opponents. But even after struggling to start the year, he remains highly motivated to work his way back.

“It comes back to a simple thing: why you play the game? I love the game. I want to do the best I can. It’s as simple as that. Coming every day to practice, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to push yourself because you have big competition on the other side. You know that the guys are also hungry, youngsters are hungry, also top guys are hungry to do well,” Cilic said. “But at the end of the day you have to be clear with yourself why you do this and what you want to achieve. For me, I want to be the best I can be and I know the process for that is a longterm process and I have to be every day dedicated and very persistent with my own goals and with my training.”

Even at 30, Cilic

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Ferrer: 'I'll Have To Find Other Things To Calm The Beast'

The time has come. David Ferrer is retiring next month after playing his final tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open.

He will leave behind him one of the best careers in the history of Spanish tennis, replete with ATP Tour titles (27), a Grand Slam final (2013 Roland Garros) and career-high ATP Ranking of No. 3. The emotional memories he left on the court won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Ahead of his first-round match on Tuesday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Ferrer spoke with about his two decades as a professional.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen an iconic image; your bandana lying on the court.
I don’t do it to look good. It all started in Auckland. I lost the match and that is my last memory of each tournament. It’s like leaving your final drops of sweat behind.

The end of your career is very close.
Yes, and I’m feeling good. I feel happy with my transition into accepting that I’m going to stop playing and that this was going to be my last year. There is always a little bit of fear at the last tournaments. You think about how you’re going to feel. But my goal is to be happy. I feel competitive, I’m playing the tournaments that have given me the most affection and that I am most excited about. Thanks to the career I’ve had, I can look back and feel proud of everything I’ve achieved.

Did you expect so much affection?
I really didn’t. It’s really surprised me. Above all, from my peers in the world of tennis. For example, in Auckland, which is a completely different country, seeing how they appreciate you. That’s why you want to leave behind good memories of all the years you’ve played tennis. That’s what will stay with me. Apart from having been what I was as a player, I’ve given something that people liked.

Is that worth as much as a title?
Of course, easily! It’s worth more! In the end, all you have left is the person, The titles stay in my trophy room, but they are no more than trophies. The experiences I’ve had, the affection I have received from the fans and my peers and friends in the world of tennis is what will stay with me.

How much have you grown as a person since you started playing?
Well, it’s what I am. One of the things I feel happiest about is my progress as a pe

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