» Sports » Nadal to skip Miami; Thiem looks to reset

Nadal to skip Miami; Thiem looks to reset

March 17, 2021 12:09 IST
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Recovering Nadal to skip Miami and focus on clay court swing

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal at a practice session. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal will skip the Miami Open that begins later this month in a bid to recover from a back injury in time for the clay court swing, the Spaniard said on Tuesday.

Nadal had not played since his quarter-final exit at the Australian Open last month and also skipped the ATP 500 event in Dubai.


The 34-year-old has since dropped down one place in the rankings to third after Russian Daniil Medvedev leapfrogged him.

"Sad to announce that I won't be playing in Miami, a city that I love. I need to fully recover and get ready for the clay court season in Europe," Nadal wrote on Twitter.

The Miami Open is a hard court tournament which Nadal has never won despite reaching the final five times between 2005 and 2017.

The Spaniard could possibly be targeting the Monte Carlo Masters in April and the Madrid Open in May as he looks to get into top shape for the French Open where he has won a record 13 times.

Thiem looks to reset, return on clay after a tough few weeks

Dominic Thiem

IMAGE: Dominic Thiem celebrates. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

World number four Dominic Thiem says he wants to reset after making another early exit at this week's ATP 500 event in Dubai and is looking to come back stronger for the claycourt season.

The US Open champion began the 2021 season with one win in two matches in the ATP Cup before exiting the year's first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in the fourth round.

The 27-year-old Austrian's desert swing also ended in disappointment with the top seed's defeat to South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in his opening match in Dubai, which came after a quarter-final exit in Doha last week.

Thiem said he would skip the ATP 1000 event on hardcourts in Miami, starting next week, and return to the tour during the European claycourt season.

"I used to like playing a lot when I was younger. Now I really just need to reset myself a little bit to go fresh into the clay season," Thiem told reporters after his 6-3, 6-4 loss on Tuesday.

"Right now I am in a tough period and (it) wouldn't be right to go to Miami. (I will) just make a little reset, regroup and hopefully have a good clay season. That's my main goal now after these tough weeks."

Thiem, who won his maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year, has struggled with a foot problem but refused to use that as an excuse.

"For example today there was no pain at all in the foot. It's a little bit on and off," he said. "Maybe I'll do a quick check, a quick MRI to see how that thing is developing."

"But that's really not the main issue. Just that I am not playing well, in general quite a tough period for me."

Dzumhur faces disciplinary probe, fined for walking off court

Damir Dzumhur has been fined and will face a further probe after the Bosnian walked off court in anger over a line call during his second qualifying round match on Sunday in the ATP 500 event at Acapulco, Mexico.

Dzumhur, who reached a career-high ranking of 23rd in 2018, was serving at 5-5, 40-40 in the opening set against Botic van de Zandschulp when a forehand from his Dutch opponent was called in by the line judge.

Dzumhur approached the chair umpire asking for the call to be overruled but to no avail and then lost his cool. He subsequently lost the service game to trail 6-5.

An infuriated Dzumhur continued remonstrating with the chair umpire during the change of ends and received a code violation. After returning to court he again said something to the umpire during the next game and received a point penalty.

The world number 125 then walked off the court, threw his racquet on his bag and touched fists with Van de Zandschulp signalling his intention to stop playing.

While de Zandschulp walked away with his bag, Dzumhur had a discussion with the tournament supervisor but continued to speak angrily with the chair umpire.

"In a second round qualifying match in Acapulco, Damir Dzumhur received two code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct, and his failure to continue the match resulted in a default," the ATP said in a statement.

"In addition to a total fine of $6,500, Dzumhur forfeits the second round qualifying prize money of $5,280."

"Following the penalties issued on-site, a further investigation will be initiated under the Player Major Offence provision under ATP Rules," the men's governing body added.

Japan's Nishikori eyes top-five return in second chapter of career

Japan's Kei Nishikori feels like he is in the second stage of his career after the last few years were interrupted by injuries but the 31-year-old says his goal remains to get back to the top echelons of the sport.

Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final at the 2014 US Open but, plagued by injuries, he has struggled for consistency and has fallen to No.41 in the world.

"If I want to come back to my level before, I have to be tough," Nishikori told reporters on Tuesday after taking down 13th-ranked Belgian David Goffin 6-3, 7-6(3) in the ATP 500 event in Dubai.

"I try to think this is my second journey. I've had many injuries. This is a new journey for me, I have to be happy."

The aggressive baseliner rose to a career-high ranking of fourth for the first time in 2015.

The last time he was ranked in the top 10 was in October 2018 but a year later Nishikori underwent elbow surgery and spent 10 months on the sidelines.

He targeted a return at the 2020 US Open but pulled out after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Nishikori played some matches after returning in Austria in September but his season was again cut short by a shoulder injury he suffered during a five-set loss at the French Open.

In a sign that he could climb up the rankings again, Nishikori defeated youngsters Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex De Minaur of Australia -- both former top-20 players -- during his quarter-final run at Rotterdam earlier this month.

"I've been playing well the last two weeks," Nishikori said. "My goal is to come back to top 10, top five hopefully."

"I know it's going to be a long way back, because everyone is playing well. I have to step up little more but I've been enjoying the challenge these couple of weeks."

Rublev joins Zverev in slamming ATP's revised ranking system

Russian world number eight Andrey Rublev has joined US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev in criticising ATP Tour's current rankings system during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the revised rules do not fairly reward performance.

Zverev, ranked seventh, said it was 'absurd' he remained behind Roger Federer under the system having won two titles and finishing runner-up at a Grand Slam and a Masters 1000, given that the Swiss was out injured for over a year.

Rublev has won 16 of his 18 matches in 2021 and extended his winning streak at ATP 500-level tournaments to 21 on Tuesday after defeating Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 in his Dubai opener.

"If we would have the normal system, I would be like No.4 in the world I think," Rublev told reporters when asked about Zverev's comments. "So what do you think is better for me, to be No.8 or No.4?"

The 23-year-old Russian has won his last four ATP 500 events, dating back to Hamburg last September, and only Federer has a longer winning streak at the level with 28 victories.

The ATP, which runs the men's tour, froze the rankings last year during the five-month shutdown of professional tournaments, with countries imposing lockdowns and sealing borders to check the spread of the coronavirus.

When the tour restarted in August a revised system was put in place for calculating the rankings, which determine a player's ability to enter events and receive seedings.

The revised system for calculating rankings was this month extended until the week of Aug. 9 and the ATP anticipates that the traditional process with points dropping off on a 52-week basis will restart after that.

"With the system that we're having now, for me, it's much tougher to be No.4, so here is the answer," Rublev said.

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