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Federer to make clay court comeback in Madrid

Federer hasn't competed at the French Open since 2015. Credit: PA

Roger Federer will play on clay at the Madrid Open in May, the tournament has announced.

Federer has skipped the entire clay swing for the last two years but revealed after losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas last month that he would return to the surface this season.

The rest of the Swiss star's schedule has yet to be revealed but Madrid is an obvious choice given he is a three-time champion and the relatively high altitude makes it significantly faster than other clay events.

Tournament director Feliciano Lopez said: "Federer is one of the best players of all time, it's no secret.

"We are happy because his return to Madrid is a gift to the tournament, but above all the fans will be able to see a unique player in the Caja Magica. Having the Swiss player back on clay with (Novak) Djokovic and (Rafael) Nadal is going to be unmissable."

Federer, who has slipped to seventh in the rankings, is set to play at the French Open for the first time since 2015.

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Nadal sad at Murray's impending retirement

Credit: PA

Rafael Nadal expressed his sadness at Andy Murray's impending retirement but backed the Scot's decision as the right move for his mental health.

A tearful Murray revealed on Friday that the pain in his hip has become too much to bear and the Australian Open could be his final tournament.

Nadal said: "Of course it's very bad news. But when somebody like him, he achieved almost everything in his tennis career, is suffering like he's doing for such a long time already, and you feel that you are not competitive for the thing that really makes you wake up every morning and go on court with the passion to practise, to improve, and with a goal, then it is so difficult.

"Probably he is fighting to keep going since a long time. If he doesn't feel that the thing can go better, probably he does the right thing for his mental health.

"It will be a very important loss for us, for the world of tennis, for the tour, for the fans, even for the rivals that he has been part of a great rivalry between the best players for a long time, and a great competitor. But that's life."

Few people would have put money on Murray being the first of the 'big four' to retire, and his imminent exit is a stark reminder that this golden generation cannot go on forever.

"It seems like he had not a very long career," said Nadal. "But he's 31. Ten years ago, if he retired at 31, we will say he had a great and very long career. We will miss him. But today it's him, tomorrow another one. We are not 20 any more. Our generation, everyone is more than 30."

Nadal was a junior rival of Murray and the pair have known each other for 20 years.

"When he was a kid, he was little bit a bad boy," said the Spaniard with a smile. "I always had a good relationship with him. We shared the court in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things. That's impossible to forget."

Toni Nadal does not expect to see a grand slam title for Federer in 2019

Toni Nadal expects a grand slam title to prove beyond Roger Federer in 2019. Credit: PA

Toni Nadal expects a grand slam title to prove beyond Roger Federer in 2019.

The Swiss extended his all-time men's record to 20 slam victories by winning the Australian Open in January but suffered some unexpected losses during the rest of the season, finishing it ranked third.

Nadal, the long-time former coach of his nephew Rafael, believes the physical demands of best-of-five-set test are likely to put the majors out of reach for 37-year-old Federer.

Writing in his column in El Pais, Nadal said: "What can we expect from 2019? I find it hard to see Federer lifting another grand slam cup.

"Obviously, I do not say it for his game, although I do say it for the toughness of the five-set tournaments. I have to confess that I said that on other occasions and the Swiss, repeatedly, surprised me."

Nadal to miss ATP Finals through ankle surgery

Rafael Nadal is to undergo ankle surgery after revealing he is out of the ATP Finals in London because of injury. Credit: PA

Rafael Nadal is to undergo ankle surgery after revealing he is out of the ATP Finals in London because of injury.

The Spaniard pulled out of the Paris Masters with an abdominal injury and after failing to recover in time, has now withdrawn from next week's event.

He was scheduled to have a procedure to remove a floating body from his ankle on Monday in a bid to be fit for the start of the new season.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Nadal said: "It has been a complicated year, very good at the tennis level when I was able to play, and at the same time very bad as far as injuries are concerned.

"I have done everything possible to reach the end of the season in good condition, both in Paris and London, doing things well and I really wanted to play.

"Unfortunately, I had the abdominal problem in Paris last week and, in addition, I have a free body in the ankle joint that has to be removed in the operating room today.

Nadal ruled out of China Open due to knee injury

Credit: PA

Rafael Nadal has announced he will not be taking part in next month's China Open and Shanghai Masters due to his knee issue.

The world number one was forced to retire from his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro earlier this month because of the problem in his right knee.

And he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: "This past Monday I was in Barcelona looking with the doctors the situation of my knee.

"While the discomfort in my knee is nothing new, we decided together with my medical and technical team not to participate in the Asian tour to recover the knee in the way we have always done."

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US Open: 'I need to be at my best to beat Thiem' - Nadal

Nadal defeated Thiem in the 2018 French Open Final. Credit: PA

Rafael Nadal believes now is the moment to step up the defence of his US Open title after another tough battle against Nikoloz Basilashvili.

After battling for nearly four and a half hours to beat Karen Khachanov on Friday, Nadal was again pushed beyond the three-hour mark before defeating his Georgian opponent 6-3 6-3 6-7 (6/8) 6-4.

Basilashvili, ranked 37, had won just a single game against Nadal in their only previous meeting at the French Open last year but played superbly here, especially in the third-set tie-break.

Next up for Nadal is a quarter-final against ninth seed Dominic Thiem, who is the only player to beat him on clay for the last two seasons and who ended the run of last year's beaten finalist Kevin Anderson on Sunday.

Nadal defeated Thiem in the French Open final but has a lot of respect for the Austrian. This will be their first meeting on hard courts after 10 matches on clay.

"He's a fantastic player," said Nadal. "He's a very powerful player. He's a great guy. I have a very good relationship with him.

"It's going to be a tough one. He knows how to play these kind of matches. I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament.

"Now is the moment to make the next step, step forward, play more aggressive. I did a lot of things well during the whole season. It's the moment to make it happen again. I hope to be ready to make that happen."

Nadal dispatches Pospisil to reach US Open third round

Rafael Nadal was in ominous form as he dispatched Vasek Pospisil to set up a third-round clash with Karen Khachanov at the US Ope Credit: PA

Rafael Nadal was in ominous form as he dispatched Vasek Pospisil to set up a third-round clash with Karen Khachanov at the US Open.

The defending champion took exactly two hours to clinch a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the only moment of alarm coming in the second set when he dropped serve to trail 4-2.

But Nadal broke straight back and a run of four games in a row gave him the second set, with the third largely one-way traffic.

Nadal has played both his matches so far at night, when there is some respite from the searingly-hot conditions, although the humidity means temperatures have still been pushing 30C.

The world number one expects the level of tennis on show to go up as the temperature goes down, saying: "The good thing is I think things are going to improve the next couple of days.

"We'll be able to see, I think, better tennis than we saw the first couple of days of the US Open because playing under those conditions is, first thing, not healthy and, second thing, is not good for anybody: not good for the fans, not good for the players.

"The show is a little bit worse under these conditions."

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