ATP WORLD TOUR
After his eight-year winning run in Monte Carlo was ended by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal is quickly refocusing on winning an eighth title at the Barcelona Open.
Going into another clay-court tournament that Nadal has dominated, the Spaniard said he still needs to improve following a lengthy injury layoff before he is able to beat the likes of Djokovic in a final.
“When you make it to the final in Monte Carlo you cannot think that you had a bad week,” Nadal said on Monday. “Now I’m in Barcelona and I want to enjoy it. I love playing here.”
“Against the world No. 1 you can win or lose, and this time I lost,” he said.
Nadal has reached five consecutive finals since returning in February from a knee injury — winning three and losing two. This time, he will not be the top-seeded player at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. That honor goes to compatriot David Ferrer.
“I think I’m on the right track, but missing things after all that happened,” said Nadal, who opens against either Carlos Berlocq or Daniel Gimeno-Traver today. “They are both good players on clay.”
In first-round play on Monday, Ivan Dodig saved five of seven break points in beating Aljaz Bedene 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-2.
Andrey Kuznetsov took only 46 minutes to beat Igor Sijsling 6-1, 6-3, while Paolo Lorenzi defeated Guillaume Rufin 6-4, 6-2 after winning 80 percent of points on first serve. Ernests Gulbis topped Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
NASTASE TIRIAC TROPHY
Viktor Troicki advanced to the second round of the Nastase Tiriac Trophy by beating Marinko Matosevic of Australia 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on Monday.
The eighth-seeded Serb broke once in each set and served eight aces, while Matosevic failed to convert any of his three breakpoint chances.
David Goffin defeated Romanian wild-card Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-1 in 55 minutes. The Belgian could next face 2011 champion Florian Mayer.
Also in the first round, Germany’s Daniel Brands downed Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 4-2.
In the final round of qualifying, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Matthias Bachinger, Flavio Cipolla and Jaroslav Pospisil won to advance to the main draw.
As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice. Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship. She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile. On Saturday, she walked
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
THOROUGH THRASHING: Hualien City beat Taichung Blue Whale 2-1, ending their three-year winning streak with one round of matches left and eight points to spare Hualien City on Saturday clinched this year’s Taiwan Mulan Football League title with one game to spare, by beating Taichung Blue Whale 2-1 at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City. Hualien City have scored 38 points this season. Blue Whale are second on the scoreboard with 30 points, while Taipei Bravo are third with 23 points. One final round of matches is to be played on Saturday. It is the fourth league trophy for Hualien City, and ends Blue Whale’s three-year winning streak. Hualien had won the title from 2014 to 2016. Both teams defended well, leaving few chances in front
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7