2014/04/24

Almagro and Lopez Join Isner in US Men’s Clay Court Championship Field

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(December 2, 2013) Nicolas Almagro, the 2013 finalist, and Feliciano Lopez, a 2012 semifinalist, have committed to play the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club. These two Spanish players will join defending champion John Isner in the field for the tournament April 7-13.

“It’s wonderful to be able to announce that Nicolas and Feliciano are joining our field the same week we have the individual session and Champs Pass tickets going on sale,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “Both of these guys proved very popular when they have played at River Oaks in the past, and there’s definitely excitement that they joining John Isner in returning to play in 2014.”

Almagro was runner-up at the 2013 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, falling to Isner in the final. He has led the ATP in clay-court match wins three times in the past six seasons. With a career record of 229-108 on clay courts, he joins Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo as the only active players with more than 200 wins on clay. He’s second behind only Nadal (36) for career clay court finals with 20, and has won 12 titles on the surface.

Lopez will be making his second appearance at River Oaks. He made the semifinals of the 2012 event before losing to Isner in three sets. Lopez recorded his 300th career match win during the 2013 season and also reached his eighth career ATP World Tour final.  Lopez has been a member of four Davis Cup championship teams.

These two Spaniards join Isner, who will attempt to be the first player to successfully defend his US Men’s Clay Court Championship title since Andy Roddick won the 2001 and 2002 titles. Isner is the No. 1 ranked American, and will be making his sixth appearance at the tournament. His title at River Oaks was one of two tournaments he won in 2013, giving him seven for his career.

In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 105th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

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Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and others to Participate in The Dream Cup Barbados during Thanksgiving Weekend

The Dream Cup

(October 4, 2013) Barbados Saint Peter’s Bay Resort & Residences will play host to The Dream Cup Barbados tennis exhibition featuring Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro during Thanksgiving weekend, from November 28 to December 1. 

 

As part of a two-year agreement, ESPN will air exclusive live coverage of the event on its television and broadband networks in Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, the Caribbean and Spanish-speaking Latin America, and stream it live on its broadband network in the U.S.  ESPN’s agreement with the Dream Cup Barbados also includes exclusive live airing of the 2014 event.

“We are thrilled to have top players like Andy, Juan Martin, Richard and Nicolas come to Barbados and experience this incredible paradise,” said Kodi Lewis, Executive Director, The Dream Cup Barbados. “We are grateful for the relationships with key supporters such as the Barbados Tourism Authority, ESPN and Saint Peter’s Bay. Having this amazing tennis talent compete on the island will be a fantastic experience for the fans and sponsors and we can’t wait to kick ‘The Dream Cup’ off.”

 

“The Dream Cup from Barbados is an exceptional showcase for some of the best tennis players in the world,” Michael Walters, vice president, programming, ESPN International, said.  “It will provide ESPN International’s multi-platform services with an outstanding tennis competition from a unique venue and we are pleased to be able to bring this event live to fans around the world.”

 

The Dream Cup Barbados on ESPN

(All times Eastern)

DATE

TIME

REGION

NETWORK

Friday 29 November

6 pm – 10 pm

Australia

ESPN 2, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Brazil

ESPN+, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Caribbean

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Mexico

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 10 pm

U.S.

ESPN3

Saturday 30 November

6 pm – 8 pm

Australia & New Zealand

ESPN, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Brazil

ESPN, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Caribbean

ESPN, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Latin America

ESPN, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 8 pm

U.S.

ESPN3

 

 

Barbados (October 4, 2013) – The Dream Cup Barbados will showcase four (4) of the world’s best tennis players, including Grand Slam Champions Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro along with Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro.  The Caribbean island will be the center of the tennis universe this Thanksgiving weekend with four of the premiere tennis players in the world competing from November 28 to December 1.  

 

As part of a two-year agreement, ESPN will air exclusive live coverage of the event on its television and broadband networks in Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, the Caribbean and Spanish-speaking Latin America, and stream it live on its broadband network in the U.S.  ESPN’s agreement with the Dream Cup Barbados also includes exclusive live airing of the 2014 event.

 

The Dream Cup Barbados on ESPN

(All times Eastern)

DATE

TIME

REGION

NETWORK

Friday 29 November

6 pm – 10 pm

Australia

ESPN 2, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Brazil

ESPN+, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Caribbean

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

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Nadal Wins Eighth Barcelona Crown

 

Rafael Nadal

(April 28, 2013) Rafael Nadal recovered from an 0-3 start to defeat Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3 to gain his eighth Barcelona Open tournament victory – a record. He has now won 39 matches in a row at the tournament.

“I feel very happy to lift the trophy once again here in Barcelona,” Nadal said. “It means a lot especially after the difficult year I’ve had. The conditions were very difficult today, especially in the first six games as it was raining a lot.”

“I am extremely satisfied about being able to defeat a player like Nico (Almagro) in straight sets in the final. I played better and better as the match went on and the break at 1-3 in the first set was vital for me. In the second set, things went smoother and I managed [to do] well in all the difficult moments.”

Nadal is the first player of the 2013 season to win four tournaments.

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Gasquet Beats Almagro in Tight Match at Sony Open

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By Amy Fetherolf

(March 26, 2013) MIAMI – Watching a match in person between World No. 10 Richard Gasquet and World No. 12 Nicolas Almagro was not only a chance to see two of the most visually appealing backhands on the ATP Tour up close, but it was also a chance to see two players that share similar reputations for lacking the mental strength to do bigger things than linger near the bottom of the top 10.

It was fun to observe the differences in those two backhands. Almagro strikes the ball cleaner, with a more efficient follow through. Gasquet’s backhand has a more artistic look, with a follow through that almost feels hyperextended, but despite all that, it’s a comfortable shot for the Frenchman.

Almagro’s serve is also an interesting shot to watch. He can get incredible pace on the first serve, and will hit plenty of aces in any given match. His relatively low ball toss is a stark contrast to players like Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro, who toss the ball high into the clouds.

Both men enjoy spending the vast majority of points behind the baseline. I went in expecting long rallies, and that’s what I got.

Gasquet came out nervy, and was broken to love immediately, dumping a volley into the net. Almagro was outhitting him more and more, the longer the rallies got. It was one-way traffic as Gasquet was broken again at 1-3. He angrily hit a ball into the backboard after dropping serve, frustrated with his poor start.

But suddenly, Almagro seemed to relax too much. A couple of loose shots into the net handed Gasquet back one of the breaks, and the match was on.

Gasquet held for 3-4, and got into Almagro’s next service game, trying to level the match. Frustrated at missing, he angrily gestured at a ballkid for not reading his mind and knowing that he wanted his towel. Surprisingly, given the fact that Gasquet spends so much time hanging around the area where the ballkids stand at the back of the court, he’s not very kind to them, particularly after losing a point.

Gasquet pushed Almagro to deuce, then groaned as he lunged futilely toward a ball that was long gone as Almagro struck a timely ace. Almagro dumped a volley into the net to get back to deuce. A few deuces later, Gasquet finally ventured up into his forbidden zone – in front of the baseline – and hit a lovely volley to earn a break point. Almagro made another error and it was level at 4-all.

It was as if Gasquet was a different player now. Suddenly relaxed, he held to 15, and was no longer snapping at ballkids. He had won four straight games, and suddenly Almagro was down two set points. He saved one with an ace, and Gasquet lost the next point on a backhand error, gesturing angrily at the crowd. Almagro finally held on a highlight reel backhand passing shot, stopping the bleeding.

A couple of easy holds later, and the first set went to a tiebreak. Gasquet took a 2-1 lead on a well-struck lob, but Almagro won five straight points, letting out a loud shout as Gasquet dumped a volley into the net to give him set points. Almagro hit an unreturnable serve to close out the set, turning around and yelling in the direction of the crowd, where a section of fans had unfurled four Spanish flags.

In the second set, Almagro saved early break points, and aside from that first game, each man held serve easily up until 4-all. At that point, Almagro managed to fend off two break points to hold for 5-4. However, he was broken two games later on a nervy double fault on break point. Gasquet was able to serve out the second set to force a decider.

In the third set, it was Gasquet’s turn to save early break points. Both men held three times apiece to get to 3-all. At 15-30, Almagro stepped into the court to hit an inside out forehand that he probably expected not to come back. At that point, Gasquet hit the shot of the match, managing to hit a defensive slice backhand passing shot winner down the line to set up double break point. At 15-40, Almagro stopped play to challenge a call on Gasquet’s return, but it was smack on the line and he was broken.

The Spaniard wasn’t ready to go away easily. He immediately broke back, channeling his earlier success in the longer rallies. Gasquet threw his arms up in frustration as the match was leveled.

Both men held their nerve to get to a tiebreak, but Gasquet steamrolled through a suddenly tight Almagro who double faulted to start the tiebreak. At the changeover as Gasquet led 4-2, there were dueling cheers of “Nico! Nico!” and “Richard! Richard!” But the steadier Gasquet wouldn’t be denied, and he took the match, 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3).

Gasquet will face Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

Pictures from the match:

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Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News.   Follow her live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.   She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her personal Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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Tommy Haas Continues His Return to Form with Win over Nicolas Almagro

Tommy Haas

By Jennifer Knapp

(March 13, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Tommy Haas, the ATP’s 2012 Comeback Player of the Year and nineteenth seed continued his strong return to form and secured his place in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open with a hard fought win over eleventh seed Nicolas Almagro.

The 34-year-old, making his 13th appearance in Indian Wells, took the first set 6-3 with solid serving and equally powerful returns. Almagro seemed a little out of sorts as the match got underway and it wasn’t long before he was berating himself and yelling in the direction of his camp.  Haas started off the secondset well but midway he lost his first serve, giving Almagro the opportunity to turn his luck around and even the match in a tie break 7-2. This time it was Haas’ turn to express his displeasure with his level of play.

 

The third and final set was perhaps the most dramatic of all as Almagro had the win on his racquet only to tighten up and lose control of his first serve, allowing Haas to break back and eventually forcing another tiebreak.  Despite the fact that the two players were pretty evenly matched, Haas was able to capitalize at the right moments and secure the match 7-6 for a 6-2, 6-7(2), 7-6(2)  third round victory.  He’ll play seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round. The two have played 3 times, most recently in Cincinnati last year and del Potro has won each of their matches.

Jennifer Knapp is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow the updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Hewitt, Blake and Haas Commit to Houston

houston

(February 28, 2013) HOUSTONFormer champions Lleyton Hewitt (2009) and Tommy Haas (2004) as well as former finalist James Blake (2008) are among the players added to the field for the 2013 US Men’s Clay Court Championship as the preliminary entry list was released this week. Twenty-three players, including six ranked within the Top 25 on the ATP World Tour, have committed to the 28-player field for the tournament at River Oaks Country Club April 8-14.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion from Australia, and Germany’s Haas headline a list of international stars in the event that includes defending champion Juan Monaco from Argentina, France’s Gael Monfils and Spaniard’s Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco.

Blake, a former Top 5 player, is among a group of seven Americans that includes 2012 River Oaks runner-up John Isner, 2010 finalist Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison, Tim Smyczek, Houston resident Michael Russell and wild card recipient Jack Sock.

“Getting the entry list always gives everyone around River Oaks a little energy boost because it means the tournament is now less than six weeks away,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “With the players that has signed up for the 2013 tournament, I anticipate a lot of excitement for this tournament. It’s such a deep field, I think every day of the week will have plenty of stars and quality matches.”

Here are the first 22 entries for the 213 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, with their nationality and ranking as of Monday, Feb. 25:
Nicolas Almagro (Spain) 12
Martin Alund (Argentina) 91
Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania) 87
Carlos Berlocq (Argentina) 75
James Blake (USA) 99
Flavio Cipolla (Italy) 100
Somdev Devvarman (India) 85*
Tommy Haas (Germany) 19
Ryan Harrison (USA) 76
Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 98
John Isner (USA) 15
Jesse Levine (Canada) 95
Paolo Lorenzi (Italy) 57
Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 77
Juan Monaco (Argentina) 14
Guido Pella (Argentina) 88
Sam Querrey (USA) 23
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Spain) 96
Michael Russell (USA) 72
Tim Smyczek (USA) 101
Jack Sock (USA) 130
Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 24
*Protected Ranking

One more player will join the field as wild cards while four more players will advance into the main draw through the qualifying tournament that will be held begin April 6 at River Oaks.

In addition to these singles players, four-time doubles champion the Bryan Brothers will return to River Oaks. The twin brothers Bob and Mike are the World No. 1 doubles team. They own the record for Grand Slam titles with 13 together as well as total career titles together with 85.

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Monaco to Defend US Men’s Clay Court Championship

houston

(February 14, 2013) HOUSTONArgentina’s Juan Monaco will defend his US Men’s Clay Court Championship title when the tournament returns to River Oaks Country Club April 8-14, and he will be accompanied in the field by American Sam Querrey and Frenchman Gael Monfils.

These three players join the previously announced commitments from top-ranked American John Isner and Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco in the singles field and American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in the doubles field.

These singles entries put five players from the Top 25 of the current ATP World Tour rankings into the field for the tournament at River Oaks. As of Monday, Almagro was No. 11, Monaco No. 15, Isner No. 16, Querry No. 20 and Verdasco No. 24.

“We always take pride in exposing our fans to new players, so it is with great pleasure we can have guys like Monfils, Almagro and Verdasco making their River Oaks debut this year,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “We are also happy to welcome back familiar faces. Juan Monaco was a popular champion last year, and the group of Americans we have returning have long been fan favorites here in Houston.”

Monaco will try to be the first repeat champion of the event since the recently retired Andy Roddick won back-to-back titles in 2001-02. The win at River Oaks last year was one of his career-high four titles in 2012. He has reached at least one clay court final in seven of the past eight seasons, and six of Monaco’s seven career titles have come on clay.

Querrey teamed with James Blake to win the 2012 doubles title at River Oaks. He’s also enjoyed singles success, reaching the final in 2010. He has won seven titles while appearing in 12 finals in his career, and earlier this month helped the US reach the Davis Cup quarterfinal with a pair of singles wins against Brazil.

Monfils has finished in the Top 20 in the World in four of the past five seasons. He has reached 17 career ATP finals, winning four titles. He was a finalist twice early in 2012 before a knee injury forced him to miss nearly four months. He already has reached one semifinal and another quarterfinal early in 2013.

In last year’s final, Monaco defeated Isner, who in 2012 reached the Top 10 for the first time. Almagro has led the ATP in clay court match wins three times in the past five seasons and is one of only four players with over 200 career clay court wins. Verdasco has reached 10 career clay court finals and finished in the Top 25 in five straight seasons.

The Bryan Brothers are the World No. 1 doubles team and four-time champions at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship. They own the record for Grand Slam titles with 13 together as well as total career titles together with 84.

Additional player commitments as well as a full schedule of special events will be announced in the weeks leading up to the 2013 US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

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Bryan Brothers, Verdasco Join Isner and Almagro for US Men’s Clay Court Championship

houston

(February 7, 2013) HOUSTONFour-time US Men’s Clay Court Championship doubles winners Bob and Mike Bryan and Spain’s Fernando Verdasco have committed to the 2013 tournament that will be held April 8-14 at River Oaks Country Club. The Bryans will be top seeds in the doubles field while Verdasco joins his countryman Nicolas Almagro and top-ranked American John Isner to form a trio of Top 25 players in the singles field.

The Bryans claimed the Australian Open title last month, extending their record with 84 career titles while also setting an Open Era record for Grand Slam titles with 13. The Southern California twins have finished as the No. 1 team on the ATP World Tour eight times in the past 10 years. The Bryans have a 16-match winning streak at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, having won the title in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 (they did not play the event in 2008 and 2012).

Verdasco has finished in the Top 25 of the ATP World Tour rankings in each of the past five seasons. He has reached at least one final in eight of the past nine seasons, and 10 of his 17 career finals appearances have come on clay. He owns five career titles, and has been a member of three Spanish Davis Cup championship teams.

“Having three Top 25 players already committed to the event is very exciting as we are now just two months out from the event,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “And we’re certainly excited to have the Bryans coming back. They are a fan favorite every year, and obviously they’ve had quite a bit of success here. We’re very happy with how the field is coming together for the tournament in April.”

Isner was runner-up at the 2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, falling to Juan Monaco in the final. Last season he became the No. 1 American and reached the Top 10 for the first time while winning a career-high 45 matches. He won two titles in 2012, bringing his career total to five in 12 finals. Twice in the past three seasons Isner has hit more than 1,000 aces to lead the ATP.

Almagro has led the ATP in clay-court match wins three times in the past five seasons. With a career record of 206-97 on clay courts, he joins Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo as the only active players with more than 200 wins on the surface. All 18 of his career ATP finals appearances have been on clay, and his 12 clay titles are second among active players behind Nadal’s 36.

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Ferrer Digs Deep to Overcome Almagro

 

DavidFerrerbyAbigailHintoShanghaiTennisPanorama

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 22, 2013) David Ferrer fought back from two sets to love down to overcome compatriot Nicolas Almagro in five sets 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4,) 6-3 and progress through to his second Australian Open semifinal.

 

Ferrer is just the second Spaniard behind Rafael Nadal to reach multiple semifinals at the Australian Open and the third Spaniard to reach five or more Grand Slam semifinals in the Open Era. The win also signaled his 500th career win.

 

The first two and a half sets were dominated by the tenth seeded Almagro as he shocked the crowd by taking an aggressive two sets to love lead 6-4, 6-4 by serving powerfully and smashing winners from all over the court.

 

He continued the form into the third set as he broke Ferrer with the set level at 3-3 and had a chance to serve out the match at 5-4. Ferrer dug deep however and created three break point opportunities with Almagro serving for the match, the first saved with an ace and the second with a forehand volley winner for deuce. On his third opportunity Ferrer hit a superb forehand winner to break back and level the match at 5-5. With Almagro rattled, Ferrer won his next service game and broke Almagro in the next game to love to win the set 7-5.

 

The Spaniards traded breaks throughout the fourth set and with his nose ahead at 5-4 Almagro had another opportunity to close out the match. He squandered the game again to allow Ferrer back in the set at 5-5. By this stage his failure to serve out the match on two occasions appeared to play heavily on Almagro’s mind. He had a third opportunity to serve out the match after breaking Ferrer for 6-5 but again failed to do so and sent the set to a tie-break. Ferrer got ahead in the tie-break and won the set 7-6(4) to level at 2 sets all and sent the match to a decider.

 

In the fifth set Almagro began to struggle physically and had issues with his abductor while Ferrer was running on momentum and had full control on the match. He got the first break in the fifth game and a second in the seventh game and served out the match with a forehand winner.

 

Ferrer increased his head-to-head lead over Almagro to 13-0. He was asked what was going through his mind when he was down two sets and a break with Almagro serving for the match.

 

“I try to fight every point, every game. I know all the players in important moments we are nervous. I know that. I try to do my best. Today I was close to lost, sure. But finally I come back, no?”

 

“I think he played better than me in the first set. There was a break. I play bad in myself in one break. In the second, I didn’t play good, no? In the third, I feel better with my game. I can play more aggressive.”

 

“And in the fifth, he was cramping, problems with his leg, so it was easier for me.”

 

On a potential semifinal clash with  Novak Djokovic, should he defeat Tomas Berdych on Tuesday night, Ferrer said, “Amazing player. Of course, Novak, he’s the No. 1 of the world. He’s the favorite for to win the Australian Open. I will see the match tonight. Anyway, I will have to play better than today for to win after tomorrow, sure.”

 

“You know, every day is different: the weather, the conditions, everything is different. I don’t know what is going to be tonight with Tomas Berdych, but I hope it will be a long match, no (smiling)?”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

 

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Tipsarevic Pulls Pin and Sends Almagro Through to First Australian Open Quarterfinal

The Miami Cup tennis tournament held at Crandon Park Tennis Center.

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 20, 2013) Tenth seed Nicolas Almagro has progressed through to his first Australian Open quarterfinal after Janko Tipsarevic retired injured down a set and 2-5 in the second set.

 

The Serbian looked frustrated and uncomfortable for the duration of the short lived match, requiring a medical time out at 2-5 down in the first set to get some extra padding and taping added to his heel on his already taped up left foot.

 

In the second set he was unable to play his best tennis and after being broken for the second time he pulled the pin on the match. In the post match press conference Tipsarevic said the initial diagnosis was a jarred heel and that before the match he was feeling good and had fully recovered from his previous two five set encounters. He said it was very frustrating to have to end the match under such circumstances.

 

The retirement puts Almagro through to his first Australian Open quarterfinal, equaling his best appearance at a Grand Slam, having reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros on three occasions. He will take on David Ferrer in an all-Spanish quarterfinal and goes into the match having lost all 12 previous encounters with his compatriot.

 

Regardless of the head-to-head statistics Almagro is looking forward to playing his good friend in their first Grand Slam match-up and said it “is a big opportunity for me to be in a semifinal. I’m ready to fight. I’m healthy and I’m happy with my tennis.”

 

“I’m playing good. I’m hitting the ball with confidence, playing really aggressive, going to the net to close the point, and, well, that’s it.”

 

When asked if he knew that something was wrong with Tipsarevic, Almagro said “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I was talking with him and he said the problem start at 4-1 of the first set and after that he couldn’t move really well and he decide to retired.”

 

On weather Tipsarevic’s condition played on his mind he said, “Well, I was trying to be focused on my match, on my tennis. Well, I think I play a really good first set. After that, the mind start to work a little bit because you know something happen but you don’t know really good what happen.”

 

“But I think I was very focus all the match. With 5-1 in the second set, was really tough for him. I think he decide to stop because the injury would be worse.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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