Madrid

Albert Costa Named Davis Cup Tournament Director In Madrid

Albert Costa, a former Davis Cup champion with extensive experience as director of tennis tournaments and development projects, has joined Kosmos Tennis’s team as Competition Director and Davis Cup finals Tournament Director.

Costa will oversee all sporting aspects of the competition and the implementation of the new Davis Cup format in 2019, following the agreement signed by Kosmos Tennis and the ITF on 16 August at the ITF AGM in Orlando.

“We are really proud to have Albert Costa in our team to be part of our project and share with us the vision and enthusiasm to consolidate this new historic stage of the competition,” said Javier Alonso, CEO of Kosmos Tennis. “His experience as a former elite tennis player and Davis Cup captain, as well as his subsequent successful tennis projects, will provide huge impetus to the development of Kosmos Tennis’s sports capability. On behalf of the whole team, I want to give Albert our warmest welcome.”

Costa will be the second former player to join the company following Galo Blanco, Chief Competition Officer of Kosmos Tennis and member of the Davis Cup Steering Committee.

Albert Costa said: “Joining this project offers me a superb new challenge. I’m very excited that my work with Kosmos Tennis will give me the opportunity to get involved in the Davis Cup again, a competition I witnessed and enjoyed from the inside and from which I had many positive experiences. We still have a long way to go and I want to thank Kosmos Tennis for the opportunity and the trust they have placed in me at this new stage in my professional career.”

Albert Costa competed as a professional tennis player from 1992 to 2006. During his career, he won 12 titles, including 2002 Roland Garros, and was ranked in the world´s Top 10. Costa was also a member of the team that won the first Davis Cup for Spain in 2000 at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, and was the captain of the Spanish team from 2009 until 2011, winning two more titles (Barcelona in 2009 and Sevilla in 2011). He is one of 18 tennis players who, throughout the 118 years of Davis Cup history, has won the title both as a player and as a captain.

Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with 127 nations taking part in 2018. The competition is 118 years old, having been founded in 1900. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas (Official Bank of Davis Cup). International sponsors are Rolex (Official Timekeeper) and Adecco (Official HR Sponsor), while Head (Official Ball) is an international partner. beIN SPORTS is the Official Global Media Rights Partner. In 2019, the all-new Davis Cup by BNP Paribas finals will be hosted at the iconic La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain. Twenty-four nations will contest the Qualifiers on 1-2 February, competing in 12 locations around the world on a home-and-away basis. The 12 winning teams will join the 2018 semi-finalists plus two wild card teams in an 18-nation Davis Cup season finale.

Rafael Nadal, Now Proven To Be Human On Clay, Seeks Redemption In Rome

So Rafael Nadal is human on clay!

One week after the “King of Clay” showed vulnerability in his quarterfinal loss to Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open, Nadal will look to regain his winning ways in Rome at the Italian Championships. Nadal has won in Rome seven times, less than his 11 titles each in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and his 10 titles at Roland Garros, but, by any other normal professional standards, is amazing.

Against Thiem in Madrid, Nadal had his 21-match and 50-set clay-court winning streaks come to an end. To boot, he fell from the top ranking by not winning the title, surrendering the top spot to Roger Federer. However, Nadal is still 14-1 in matches and 30-2 in sets on clay this year. He will return the No. 1 ranking on 21 May if he captures his the title at the Foro Italico. While Nadal has won a record seven times in Rome, he has not won there since 2013. He lost in the quarterfinals in 2015, 2016 and 2017 after falling to Djokovic in the 2014 final. Rome is the only clay-court event where Nadal has made four consecutive appearances without a title.

Nadal faces the strongest ATP World Tour field of the season with 18 of the Top 20 players vying for the title. Four-time champion Novak Djokovic and defending champion Alexander Zverev are former champs in the field. Djokovic continues to struggle this year and is only 6-6 in 2018 and seeking his first quarterfinal of the season as he continues his comeback from a right elbow injury. The former world No. 1 is responsible for 19% of Nadal’s losses on clay, earning three of seven clay-court victories over his Spanish rival in Rome.

Zverev, the world No. 3, won ATP Masters 1000 titles last year in Rome and Montreal and is coming in on a high after defeating Thiem in the final of Madrid. Zverev’s serve, in particular, was impressive in Madrid, not losing serve and barely losing points on his deliveries. If he can keep up that success in Rome – and avoid mental and physical fatigue – he will be a tough out.

Thiem beat Nadal in the quarterfinals of Rome last year and combined with his win over Nadal last week in Madrid – and two semifinal showings at the French Open – make him and Zverev the next two betting favorites in Rome – and in Paris – other than Nadal. With three wins over Nadal on clay in his career, Thiem is one of three men with three wins over Nadal on clay, joining Djokovic (7) and Gaston Gaudio (3).

World No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro is 22-5 in 2018, highlighted by his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, where he saved three championship points to defeat Federer. Despite his high credentials and South American upbringing on the clay in Argentina, del Potro has not reached a semifinal on a clay court since Madrid in 2012. Kevin Anderson, the world No. 8, and John Isner, the world No. 9, are at career-high rankings following impressive starts to their seasons. The 6-foot-8 Anderson, the 2017 US Open runner-up, reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal last week in Madrid after winning his fourth ATP title in New York. The 6-foot-10 Isner defeated del Potro and Zverev to capture his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami.

“Mama Martina:” Hingis Embraces New Role as Coach

In a heated debate between parent and child, many a tiger mother has resorted to an ominous prediction in her rhetoric: “Wait until you have children; then you will understand.” It is a common adage heard in American households, but it feels strangely applicable as former champion Martina Hingis begins the European clay court swing, not as a player, but as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s new coach.

Ostensibly an odd pairing, there has been little in the young Russian’s career to make one draw comparisons to the “Swiss Miss.” Where Hingis arguably peaked before age 20, Pavlyuchenkova’s career has been defined by fits and starts; her 2013 resumé  alone boasts two titles, one final and a whopping seven opening round losses. From the age of two, the five-time Slam champion was coached almost exclusively by her mother, Melanie Molitor, a former player from the Czech Republic who had named her daughter after national hero, Martina Navratilova.

By contrast, Pavlyuchenkova has gone through a bevy of coaching situations in the constant effort to tweak her game to be more reliable. In the last year, she finally returned to the Mouratoglou Academy (home to Serena Williams, Jeremy Chardy, and Yulia Putintseva), and cemented her partnership with Academy coach Hingis last week during the International event in Oeiras.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QpLU5EIIqk

Even on a fundamental level, Pavlyuchenkova represents much of what drove Hingis from the top of the sport in the early 2000s. The Swiss superstar relied on guile and cunning to beat bigger, stronger opponents on a weekly basis, but even that was often not enough to compensate for her underpowered game. Pavlyuchenkova? She has enough stored-up power to keep the lights on at any stadium she plays. She may as well consider “tactics” a four letter word, as all of her biggest victories were moments when she bashed down the door with relentless efficiency. Ten years ago, that might have been enough to take the Russian to several Slam titles already.

But today, the most successful players combine brains and brawn, and those who rely too heavily on one or the other find themselves flattened by more complete players.

On some level, Hingis must feel relieved that, to a certain degree, that which Pavlyuchenkova lacks can be taught. As she herself learned the hard way, height and strength is not something one can glean from a couple of days on the practice court. But the two do appear to share a certain stubbornness that might make this arrangement more trouble than it’s worth.

From a pundit’s perspective, it looked like there was plenty Hingis could have done to compete with the changing Tour, from developing a faster serve, to ending her mother/coach relationship and improving her perceived lack of superhuman fitness. But as Hingis infamously said, she was a “player, not a worker.” She was content to make the best of her natural gifts and use them to hide her weaknesses for as long as she could.

Pavlyuchenkova, too, has sometimes bristled at the idea of improving. Despite lacking much of Hingis’s immediate Tour success, the Russian seemed in no rush to build on her emphatic run to the 2009 Indian Wells semifinals, and while she has made two Slam quarterfinals since then, her ranking has stalled outside the top 10, and both her fitness and consistency have left much to be desired.

Though she may blanch at the notion, Martina has become her mother. Once a player, she is now forced as coach to watch from the stands and hope that her charge is employing the techniques they discussed in practice. But after playing nearly two decades one way, how quickly will Pavlyuchenkova be able to find the balance between “brainless ballbasher” and “technical tactician?” How many matches is she willing to lose playing the right way instead of winning playing the wrong way? At least neither have to deal with the all-too-complex parent/child dynamic.

After all, Pavlyuchenkova’s coach isn’t “mom,” she’s “Martina Hingis.”

Many WTA Candidates In Line to Conquer the Blue Clay

While all the talk has been about the colour of the clay in Madrid ahead of this week’s combined Mutua Madrid Open, there is an important tournament to be played on the new surface and there is a long list of title contenders in the women’s draw.

The top half of the draw features World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka who overcame a tough first round hurdle this weekend with a straight sets win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Despite a flawless start to her season, the Belarussian could use a strong showing at a major clay court event leading into Roland-Garros. Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams and Na Li are all in Azarenka’s quarter and her arch rival, new world no. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska is once again a potential semifinal opponent. Azarenka is the only player to beat the Pole so far in 2012. Radwanska’s section is already void of three seeds, Marion Bartoli, Dominika Cibulkova and a slumping Francesca Schiavone. Despite some of the favourites bowing out early, Radwanska could meet Sara Errani, the hottest clay court player in the world, in the second round. Errani has won 15 straight matches and three consecutive tournaments on the red dirt, including a title win last week in Budapest.

On paper, the bottom half of the Madrid women’s draw is definitely the tougher and deeper side. Leading the way is Stuttgart champion and world no. 2 Maria Sharapova. The rejuvanted Russian continues to make strides on clay and she rolled through her opening match. Fans are looking ahead to a potential blockbuster quarter-final  between Sharapova and Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, or even the emerging Mona Barthel. Sharapova and Williams have not played eachother since Stanford last summer and with many labeling them French Open favourites, both would likely relish the opportunity to go head-to-head before Paris. Defending Madrid champion Petra Kvitova and the clay savvy Samantha Stosur could also meet in the quarter-finals. Both could use a big showing on the blue clay courts. As she proved last year with her title run, the Madrid altitude and quicker surface are certainly favourable conditions for Kvitova’s big game.

In keeping with a prevalent WTA trend in 2012, expect the top four players to be still standing in the latter stages of the tournament, but not without being tested along the way. At the same time, upsets will not be uncommon given the uncertainties and concerns about the new clay surface. It will be interesting to see what kind of champion the blue courts will crown.

The Ladies Hit the Dirt Hoping for Feats on Clay

What promises to be a thrilling spring and summer of tennis for the WTA begins this week for the ladies in Stuttgart for the start of the clay court season.

This much-anticipated segment of the calendar begins with a bang as 17 of the Top 20 players in the world are entered in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Madrid and Rome will also host Premier events during the month of May as preparation for the second Grand Slam event of the year at Roland-Garros.

Over the past few years, the expectations and results on the red dirt for the women have been highly unpredictable and 2012 will be no different. Gone are the days of dominant clay court specialists on the WTA like Justine Henin or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Instead, today’s Tour is all about parity making it anyone’s game, especially on clay. Case and point, the French Open has crowned a different champion each of the last four years. It will be interesting to see if World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka can continue her dominance this season on a different surface or whether Maria Sharapova will finally breakthrough with some titles after finishing as the runner-up at the three biggest tournaments of the year so far. Can Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova kick-start her season after a slow start? Will Caroline Wozniacki claim that elusive Grand Slam crown? Can Na Li repeat in Paris? Will a resurgent Ana Ivanovic be a threat again on a surface that brought her Grand Slam glory in 2008? All of these questions will be answered over the next few weeks with a few unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.

Don’t be surprised if a player outside of the Top 10 makes some noise at the big tournaments and look for Agnieszka Radwanska to make a serious run at her first Grand Slam title at Roland-Garros. Her all court game is well-suited for clay. Not to mention, she is enjoying the best season of her career.

It’s impossible to discuss a pending Major without throwing the name of Serena Williams into the mix. She played the Australian Open on one ankle, but comes into the clay court season in much better shape especially after rolling through the draw in Charleston a few weeks ago to win her 40th career title. Williams is driven to continually overcome health obstacles for another opportunity to add to her Grand Slam tally. The expectations may be low heading into Roland-Garros considering her recent results at the Majors and the fact clay is her worst surface. However, tennis fans have learned over the years to never discount Serena and it would be very much her style to triumph in Paris when everyone least expects her to.

MADRID FINALS PICTORIAL: NADAL BEATS FEDERER IN MADRID

You ever feel like you’re dreaming and then wake up and realize it wasn’t actually a dream. I imagine that that’s how it felt when Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer and broke the Agassi record of 17 titles on clay and actually getting 18.

Nadal made history  winning his 18th Masters title by beating number 1 in the world Roger Federer in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

I read Lisa’s blog entry and she was elated with Rafa’s victory. Ofcourse, if I were a big a fan as she is of Rafa then I would be over the moon with this double victory. Setting a record that you know won’t be broken for the next few decades. I can’t imagine how that feels. Nor can I imagine to get one over my archnemesis.

The Madrid Open is a good test for Roland Garros next week I reckon and Rafael Nadal proved that he is once more a favorite for the Roland Garros title.

Did you know that, if Rafael Nadal wins at Roland Garros, Roger Federer will have to reach the semifinals to hold on to the No. 1 ranking

For now these photos I think will do fine.

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A PICTURE IS A 1000 WORDS: ROGER FEDERER VS DAVID FERRER SEMIS PICTORIAL

It’s true what they say: A picture is a 1000 words. And with our photographer Ralf Reinecke still running around in Madrid to send us pics, I am left wondering how many words I won’t have to write. Ralf possesses the uncanny talent to capture world’s finest at their best!

Roger Federer beat David Ferrer 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to set up the dream finale against archnemesis Rafael Nadal.

Now on with the pics, this is after all a pictorial.

Oh and please do check out Lisa’s Fan Watch on Rafael Nadal.

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MADRID PHOTOGRAPHY FROM GERMANY’S FINEST!

And he keeps sending us stuff! Ralf Reinecke is running around on Madrid and it shows.   Pressconferences and celebrities, noone is safe from his photo camera. And they shouldn’t be.  Ralf’s photography is once again great.

He sent me pics of Melzer, Almagro, Federer, Nadal, Na Li, Andy Murray, Gulbis and as extra bonus shots none other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulino Rubio!

Keep ’em coming and we’ll keep upping them and serve our readers and viewers the best of the best!

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ROGER FEDERER AND RAFAEL NADAL PICTORIAL AT THE MADRID OPEN

And he does it again. Ralf Reinecke managed to capture two of the best players in the world on cam in Madrid.  Earlier this week an interview with Roger Federer it was like he was giving Rafael Nadal a subtle swipe about his clay court dominance.

The interview was on Gototennis.com and Federer has the following to say:

On clay you don’t need a volley or a serve. You just need legs, an incredible forehand and backhand, and to run after every ball. I’m not trying to take anything from Rafa: He has been successful in other surfaces as well. But on clay you can get away, you can be competitive even with a very incomplete game. I’m not saying it’s so simple, but it’s too easy.

Whether or not Federer is right remains to be seen. Until then I would suggest that you enjoy the pics.

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VENUS WILLIAMS AND LUCIE SAFAROVA REACH THE SEMIS OF THE MADRID OPEN

Venus Williams and Lucie Safarova are the first semifinalists in Madrid. Lucie Safarova is getting the reputation of “giant killer” having beaten numerous top ten players in the past few weeks.

Venus Williams will be the world number 2 when the new rankings come out next week and that means the Williams’  sisters are No.1 and 2 on the WTA Tour rankings. This hasn’t happened since 2003.

Venus Williams beat Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-3 while Lucie Safarova beat Nadia Petrova 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.

Our photographer Ralf Reinecke is currently in Madrid and captured  shots of Venus Williams and Lucie Safarova.

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