Feliciano Lopez and Andy Murray head into the unknown at Queen's Club

Press Association Sport 07:46 20/06/2019
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Feliciano Lopez admits he and Andy Murray are heading into the unknown at Queen’s Club.

Spaniard Lopez is partnering Murray in the doubles at the Fever-Tree Championships in the former world number one’s first competitive match since January.

With Murray taking the first tentative steps to resuming his career after hip surgery, all eyes will be on the fledgling partnership.

It was unfortunate, then, that 24 hours earlier Lopez had to deny any link to alleged match-fixing at Wimbledon in 2017 after reports surfaced in the Spanish media.

There is no suggestion Lopez and his regular partner Marc Lopez knew of any bets placed on the match they lost, and they are not accused of any wrongdoing, but it was hardly the ideal preparation.

Nevertheless, Lopez said: “It’s a very exciting moment and I don’t want this thing to overshadow this doubles match.”

With Colombian top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah their opponents, Lopez concedes he does not know what to expect.

“It’s tough to say. I think Andy is a great doubles player. He hasn’t played much doubles, but when he played he did very well,” added the 37-year-old.

“Obviously I don’t know how is he going to feel. When we train together, he seems to be OK. His hip is pain-free.

“He’s feeling great, confident. But you never know. He hasn’t played for five or six months. He went through a surgery. It’s tough to say, you know.

“We don’t have any expectations, because we can have expectations to be realistic. I mean, it’s going to be his first match, and we haven’t played together. It’s the first match also that we are going to play together.

“But besides that, I think it’s a very exciting moment. I think we can play good. Grass is a good surface. It fits with our games. So we will see.”

Lopez had been set to face Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round but the Argentinian was forced to withdraw from Queen’s due to a knee injury, giving the former a walkover into the quarter-finals.

British number one Kyle Edmund, who has struggled for form and fitness all year, will resume at 6-3 3-3 down against top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after they were forced off by rain.

Two first-round matches have been held back until Thursday, those between Nick Kyrgios and Roberto Carballes Baena, and Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Watch Roger Federer reflect on winning start to grass-court season at Halle Open

David Cooper - Writer 11:25 19/06/2019
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Roger Federer was in a contented mood after he made it through to the second round of the Halle Open with a straight-sets win over John Millman.

The Swiss top seed and 20-time grand slam champion required a tie-break to prevail in the first set against the Australian, before sealing an eventual 7-6 (1) 6-3 victory.

This triumph heralded the start of the grass-court season for the 37-year-old, which he hopes will end with another Wimbledon victory.

See his thoughts about his form above:

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Rafael Nadal takes satisfaction in enduring a rocky path to his 12th French Open title

Press Association Sport 13:41 10/06/2019
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Rafael Nadal took satisfaction from the journey not just the destination after overcoming a difficult period to lift his 12th title at the French Open.

It was a repeat of last year’s final and the Spaniard dropped a set this time but hit back brutally to defeat Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 and win a 12th French Open title.

Nadal now stands on his own as the most successful singles player, male or female, at a single grand slam having moved clear of the 11 titles won by Margaret Court at the Australian Open.

But what appeared routine from the outside, the 33-year-old losing just two sets all tournament, felt far from that way inside Nadal’s camp.

Coach Carlos Moya said: “It’s been the toughest period for sure since I’m there. It was really hard. He really had to push himself to the limit to be back on the court, to practise, to be motivated.

“He had an unbelievable attitude in those bad moments and that’s what took him here today.

“Hats off to what he’s done this month and a half because it’s easy to play well when all the things are working well but what he’s been through this last couple of months is showing what a competitor he is and mentally that he’s a genius.”

Nadal missed the end of last season because of knee trouble and then a foot operation and he was forced onto the sidelines again after Indian Wells in March when his knees gave him further problems.

“After Indian Wells, mentally I was down,” he said. “It’s tough when you receive one (punch), another, and then sometimes you are groggy.”

Nadal pinpointed a first-round victory over Leonardo Mayer at the Barcelona Open in April, where he had to come back from a set down, as the turning point.

He said: “After the first round in Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the room and think about what was going on, what I needed to do.

“One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was to change drastically my attitude and my mentality. Finally I think I was able to change and was able to fight back for every small improvement. And since that match things have been improving every single day until today.

“Of course to have this trophy with me means a lot. But the personal satisfaction of changing the dynamic is the thing that I am more satisfied with.”

Nadal now has 18 slam titles overall, meaning for the first time he has closed to within two of his great rival Roger Federer, whose all-time men’s record of 20 titles appears increasingly within reach for either Nadal or Djokovic.

“It’s a motivation, but it’s not my obsession,” said Nadal. “You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbour has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden. That’s not the way that I see life.”

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