Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal beats David Ferrer with improved display

Rafael Nadal said he could be "much happier" with his display

Eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal gave a much improved performance to beat David Ferrer 6-3 6-3 and reach the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open.

Nadal, 32, lost a set for the first time in four years at the event in a win over Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday.

His struggles followed defeat by Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo on Saturday, but here he dominated Ferrer.

The Spaniard will now play Jan-Lennard Struff after the German beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 3-6 6-2.

“I had to improve on yesterday, not just the result but overall,” said Nadal, who needed four match points to seal the win.

“It was important to do better and play with more energy than yesterday. I did that so I can go back to my hotel feeling much happier.”

Elsewhere, Japan’s Kei Nishikori eased into the last eight with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Felix Auger Aliassime and will play Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena.

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Stuttgart Open: Naomi Osaka beats Hsieh Su-wei to reach quarter-finals

Naomi Osaka

World number one Naomi Osaka began her clay-court season with a straight-set victory over Hsieh Su-wei at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

The Japanese, who lost to Taiwan’s Hsieh at the Miami Open in March, won 6-4 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.

The victory ensures Osaka will retain the world number one ranking for at least another week.

Osaka will face Donna Vekic next after the Croat overcame Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5.

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Murray ‘cautiously optimistic’ of summer return

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Andy Murray is “cautiously optimistic” about returning to action “at some point this summer”, says mother Judy.

The British three-time Grand Slam winner, 31, said in March that he was pain-free after hip surgery but his chances of playing singles at Wimbledon this year were “less than 50%”.

Murray said the operation meant it was possible he would not be able to play professionally again.

“It is still early days so we will have to wait and see,” Judy Murray said.

She told the BBC: “He was told not to do impact work, which basically means running around the garden hitting a ball, for three months but he’s been hitting against a wall from a static position.”

Murray broke down in tears at the Australian Open in January, saying in his pre-tournament news conference that he planned to retire after this year’s Wimbledon because of pain in his hip.

However, he said the first Grand Slam of 2019 could prove to be the last tournament of his career.

After a gutsy first-round five-set defeat by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, Murray appeared to soften his stance by telling the Melbourne crowd he hoped to see them again next year.

In his post-match news conference, he said he was considering the resurfacing operation primarily to improve his quality of life.

Murray had the hip resurfacing operation – which keeps more of the damaged bone than a hip replacement, smoothing the ball down and covering it with a metal cap – in London on 28 January.

American doubles player Bob Bryan had the same surgery last year and returned to action, alongside twin brother Mike, five months later. No tennis player has competed in singles after having the operation.

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‘Still a chance of Wimbledon?’ – analysis

BBC Scotland tennis reporter Kheredine Idessane

There’s no disguising the sense of quiet optimism emanating from the Murray camp at the moment.

The social media “thumbs up” from Andy Murray himself to his hip replacement; pictures of him enjoying a round of golf; his mum Judy now saying there’s every chance he could be back on tour at some point this summer. Admittedly, that gives him plenty of wriggle room, as the summer tennis season drags well past September’s US Open.

He won’t be at the French at the end of May but is there a chance he could feature at some point on the grass in June? Queen’s Club and Wimbledon would be the obvious targets, even if only on the doubles court.

However, if a pain-free, rested, rejuvenated Murray starts serious on-court weight-bearing work at some point next month, there is a possibility he will play singles at the All England Club in July.

He only gave himself a 50% chance of that a few weeks ago but it’s certainly no less than that now. Quite a turnaround when you think that, in January, he was tearfully contemplating retirement.

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Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal battles from set down to reach last 16

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal avoided successive shock losses on clay as he began his Barcelona Open title defence with a 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 6-2 win over Leonardo Mayer.

The top seed, 32, lost to Fabio Fognini on Saturday in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals, and on Wednesday struggled at times against Argentine Mayer.

The 11-time French Open champion will now play fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the last 16.

Ferrer, 37, recorded a 6-3 6-1 win over 15th seed Lucas Pouille.

Also through is Argentine Guido Pella who beat sixth seedKaren Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

Another seed to fall in the last 32 was French 11th seed Gilles Simon, beaten 6-3 6-3 by USA’s Mackenzie McDonald.

There was no such hiccup for Russian seventh seed Daniil Medvedev who defeated Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 2-6 6-1.

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ATP Finals moving from London to Turin from 2021 to 2025

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The ATP Finals will move from London to Turin after the Italian city was named as host of event from 2021 to 2025.

Manchester, Singapore and Tokyo were also on a five-city shortlist to host the season-ending tournament.

It has been held at London’s O2 Arena since 2009 but will move to the Pala Alpitour stadium.

“We believe that Turin has all the ingredients to take the event to new heights,” said the ATP’s executive chairman Chris Kermode.

More to follow.

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Justin Gimelstob: ATP to decide on future after court sentencing

Justin Gimelstob playing at Wimbledon in 2005

Justin Gimelstob’s future will be decided by the ATP after the leading tennis administrator was sentenced for assault in Los Angeles on Monday.

Gimelstob, a retired two-time mixed doubles Grand Slam winner, was handed three years probation and 60 days community service after pleading “no contest” to a battery charge.

The American is one of three player representatives on the ATP board.

Gimelstob, 42, has also worked as a coach and TV commentator.

An ATP statement read: “The decision was taken to let the judicial process run its course before any judgement was made on his future, so with that process complete this is now a subject for review by the board and/or the player council.

“As a related matter, the election for the role of the next Americas player representative on the ATP board – the position currently held by Gimelstob – will take place as scheduled on Tuesday, 14 May, in Rome.”

The players’ council, led by Novak Djokovic, has the power to remove him, but would need the consent of at least six of its 10 members.

Former friend Randall Kaplan alleged that early in the evening of 31 October, Gimelstob “punched him in the head and face more than 50 times” in front of Kaplan’s pregnant wife Madison and two-year-old daughter.

Madison went on to have a miscarriage, which the couple believe was a result of the stress of the attack.

Gimelstob, who was also compelled to attend anger management classes by the court, partnered Venus Williams to win the Australian and French Opens in 1998 and twice reached the men’s doubles quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

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Barcelona Open: British number two Cameron Norrie loses in first round

Cameron Norrie

British number two Cameron Norrie lost 6-2 6-2 to Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in the first round of the Barcelona Open on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, who climbed to 45th in the latest ATP world rankings, lost serve at the start of both sets before losing the final three games.

Vinolas, 31, is ranked 38 places below the Briton and will now face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the last 32.

Norrie is set to play at next month’s French Open at Roland Garros.

The loss comes less than a week after Norrie exited the Monte Carlo Masters in the round of 16 to Italian Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 40 places below him.

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Injured Halep withdraws from Stuttgart Open

Simona Halep

World number two Simona Halep has withdrawn from the Stuttgart Open with a hip injury.

The 27-year-old suffered the injury during her win over Caroline Garcia in Romania’s Fed Cup defeat by France on Sunday.

But Halep is hopeful she will be fit for next month’s tournaments in Madrid and Rome before defending her French Open title from 26 May.

“If I’m not 100%, I don’t want to step on the court,” Halep said.

“I’m also exhausted mentally because I gave my everything in that tie but unfortunately we couldn’t win.

“That’s why I decided to pull out, because I have to think about my health first.

“I’ve been very sad the last two days. I’ve been through these moments many times, so I know how to handle it. I just need to recover mentally and physically and then just start again.”

Spain’s world number 19 Garbine Muguruza has also had to pull out of Stuttgart through illness.

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Fed Cup: How Great Britain can thrive after World Group promotion

GB's Fed Cup team celebrate victory over Kazakhstan

Anne Keothavong was a playing member of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team when they made the trip to Sweden for the 2012 World Group play-off.

Seven years, and three further play-off disappointments later, she is now the captain of a side which finally has the chance to discover whether it can be competitive against the world’s elite.

GB’s 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan at London’s Copper Box Arena ensures a return to World Group level of the Fed Cup for the first time since 1993.

The format for next year’s competition is far from signed off. But, for the first time in a generation, Britain will at least start the year with a theoretical chance of lifting the trophy.

The International Tennis Federation hopes to introduce a week-long Finals featuring 12 teams from next April.

The plan is for this year’s semi-finalists to be joined by the winners of eight play-off ties to be staged in February.

Interest from host nations was sought in March. Budapest is said to be among the cities to have put its name forward, but financing the event is another matter.

The ITF is understood to have pledged prize money in excess of $10m (£7.7m), and that money is supposed to be generated by the host city.

There is also a fair amount of opposition to the concept. WTA tournaments staged in the weeks either side of the proposed Finals will expect to see traditionally strong fields depleted.

And there are players – and many fans – who resent the potential reduction in the number of home ties which generate the special atmosphere evident this weekend.

Keothavong, who says she has not yet been asked her views by the ITF, admits to being in two minds about whether the reforms are in the best interests of the sport.

“I’m not sure,” Britain’s captain says. “We’ve waited so long for a home tie and now we’ve got it.

“The support we had was something we might not experience again, so it’s hard to know. I don’t know what the right format is for this competition.”

If the planned reform flounders, the ITF is likely to create one 16-team World Group for 2020, played on a knockout basis with the final four competing for the title in November.

Either way, Britain will have its work cut out to make progress.

Potential opponents include Japan (featuring world number one Naomi Osaka); Romania (featuring world number two Simona Halep); the Czech Republic (with two top five players in their ranks); and the United States (who have three top 20 players to choose from).

Britain does not currently have any singles’ players in the world’s top 40, and yet in Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter do have two players you underestimate at your peril.

Konta appears, at times, to be overwhelmed by nerves. Her game goes off the boil, and yet she invariably recovers, and should be mightily proud to have won 11 singles matches in a row.

At 3-5 down in the deciding set against Yulia Putintseva on Sunday, she won 16 of the last 18 points of the match. She was simply brilliant, and is developing a steely Fed Cup persona.

Boulter is much earlier in her Fed Cup career, but four singles wins in four days in February’s qualifying round in Bath were followed here by a very near miss against Putintseva (a match she should have won), and then a courageous comeback against Zarina Diyas.

With a hot water bottle tucked down the back of her skirt to soothe a bad back at change of ends, she clinched the tie by running away with the final set. Some shrink, where Boulter seems to thrive.

The pair will undoubtedly need the support of others if Britain are to become a force at World Group level.

Heather Watson has had a shocking time in singles of late, but is a Grand Slam doubles champion. If she can forge a potent partnership with Harriet Dart, a natural doubles player with singles aspirations of her own, Britain will add another line of defence.

Katie Swan only turned 20 last month and is now a top 200 player with four Fed Cup wins to her name.

And looking a little further ahead, there is 16-year-old Emma Raducanu, who Keothavong hopes “will be knocking on the door soon”.

The team spirit seems genuine, and so optimism should not be frowned upon – especially as, for the first time for more than a quarter of the century, the team will not have to endure the annual tribulations of Europe-Africa zone qualifying.

It will be a shame if Britain is not able to host home ties on a regular basis – the LTA proved again at the Copper Box that they know how to put on a really good show – but at least the stakes will be higher in future.

That, in turn, means the profile will be higher. And that is outstanding news for women’s tennis in the UK.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain lead Kazakhstan 2-1 after Johanna Konta wins

Johanna Konta speaks to the umpire

Great Britain v Kazakhstan – Fed Cup World Group II play-off
Venue: Copper Box Arena, London Dates: 20-21 April
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on BBC website

Johanna Konta fought back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat Yulia Putintseva and put Great Britain 2-1 ahead in their Fed Cup play-off tie with Kazakhstan.

The British number one won 4-6 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 25 minutes at London’s Copper Box Arena.

Konta was broken twice in the first set but responded to dominate the second.

She then won six of the last seven games in the decider to complete a sensational comeback.

If Katie Boulter beats Zarina Diyas in the second singles rubber later on Sunday, Britain will gain promotion to World Group II – a level they last played at in 1993.

More to follow.

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