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Murray looks to rebound on Barcelona's clay, Nishikori out
BARCELONA---Needing to make up
for lost time before the French Open,
Andy Murray decided at the last min-
ute to squeeze in another clay-court
tournament in Barcelona.
The top-ranked Murray was going
to pass on the Barcelona Open until he
bowed out at Monte Carlo in the third
round on Thursday, when he blew a
4-0 lead in the deciding set to Albert
Murray and Ramos-Vinolas could meet
again this week in Spain in a potential
Murray is trying to regain his form fol-
lowing a right elbow injury that kept him
out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup
But even before hurting his arm, Mur-
ray hasn't quite carried his excellent form
from 2016 into this year. He lost to the
50th-ranked Mischa Zverez at the Aus-
tralian Open, won at Dubai, then flopped
to 129th-ranked Vasek Pospisil at Indian
Wells before his five-week layoff.
Last year, Murray posted a career-best
record on clay of 15 wins and three losses,
which came in the Monte Carlo semifi-
nals, and the finals of Madrid and the
Murray played at Barcelona four times
from 2005-2012, never getting past the
After a bye, the top-seeded Murray will
open in the second round against Bernard
Tomic or Dustin Brown of Germany. Mur-
ray has won all five of his matches against
Tomic, and he beat Brown in straight sets
in their only meeting in 2010 at the US
If he finds his touch in time, he could
set up a final against nine-time winner
Nadal is seeking his 10th title at Mon-
te Carlo this weekend. Then he will head
down the Mediterranean coast to defend
his crown in Barcelona.
The Real Club Tenis Barcelona an-
nounced on Friday it was renaming its
center court in honor of Nadal.
Kei Nishikori, the 2014 and 2015 cham-
pion, was seeded second, but he pulled
out shortly after Saturday's draw was
Nishikori re-injured a right wrist during
practice on Saturday morning, aggravating
an injury from the Miami Open. (AP)
Nadal beats David Goffin
to reach Monte Carlo final
MONACO---Defending champion Ra-
fael Nadal beat David Goffin 6-3, 6-1
to move within one more win of a 10th
Monte Carlo Masters title and first of
the season yesterday.
Nadal will play 15th-seeded Albert
Ramos-Vinolas in an all-Spanish final after
the latter beat Lucas Pouille of France 6-3,
Although the score suggests a comforta-
ble win for Nadal, Goffin's momentum was
halted by a controversial decision by chair
umpire Cedric Mourier in the sixth game.
Goffin was asked to replay game point after
holding his serve for what would have been
a 4-2 lead.
"All of a sudden you have a mistake like
the chair umpire did, it's really tough," Gof-
fin said. "When you have a mistake like this,
you have to give more energy again to come
back into the game. It was maybe too much."
Goffin was incensed at what he basically
called an improvised decision by Mourier
to point at a mark that didn't correspond.
"He just showed me something, I don't
know what," Goffin said. "I saw on his face
that he was nervous, he wasn't sure."
Nadal's celebrations were muted after he
clinched victory on his third match point
and he sympathetically hugged Goffin at
the net. Nadal shook Mourier's hand, but
Goffin did not and walked straight past him
to pick up his bags.
Four years ago, it was a perplexed Nad-
al arguing with Mourier after he made an
incorrect call during Nadal's third-round
win against Russian Mikhail Youzhny at the
Nadal is through to his fourth final of
the season. He lost the other three, two
of them to Roger Federer, including at the
Nadal and the 10th-seeded Goffin met
for the first time, and the momentum of
the semi effectively turned on the overrule
since Goffin was playing the better tennis
at the time.
After being taken to deuce three times
Goffin finally held---or so he thought---when
Nadal hit a return too long.
It seemed evident that the ball landed
out, but Mourier overruled and called it
in, meaning the point had to be replayed.
Goffin could not believe it and nor could
the crowd, who jeered loudly.
Mourier came down from his chair to
speak to Goffin. Their exchange in French---
shared on social media---went like this:
"No, it's over there," Goffin tells Mourier,
pointing to a mark to the left of the court.
"Well, I think it's that one," Mourier says,
leaning forward and pointing centrally.
"No, you can't say that, it's completely
over here," Goffin replies raising his voice,
"Well, listen, then I'm wrong but ..."
"Oh, it can't be true!" says an exasperated
Goffin, putting his hands on his head.
Video replays showed it was out, but with
no Hawkeye technology used on clay, the
Belgian player could not challenge the initial
call. Still, the umpire effectively overruled a
line judge in a far better position than him.
"He was play-acting, like he had made
the right decision," Goffin said. "(But) it
When Nadal and Goffin resumed, Nadal
was booed when he won points, and the
crowd began chanting, "David, David." But
Nadal eventually broke him in the game.
Goffin continued to complain to Mour-
ier after the set. Nadal went off court for a
break and jeers filled the air when he came
"I receive huge support from the crowd
all around the world. Today, I don't know
why," Nadal said. "For me (it) is sad, espe-
cially in a place that I love."
Nadal, a nine-time French Open champi-
on, is not convinced of Hawkeye's accuracy
and doesn't want it on clay.
"If we made that happen, then Hawkeye
will be in trouble," he said.
The other finalist, Ramos-Vinolas, has
lost his two previous matches against Nadal,
has reached his first Masters final, and won
only one title. Nadal is bidding for his 70th.
Earlier, Pouille was 3-0 down in the de-
ciding set when he needed treatment to his
lower back and hips. His power went after
Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Belgium's David Goffin during their semifinal
match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, yesterday. Nadal won
6-3, 6-1. AP PHOTO
Former Romanian tennis ace Ilie Nastase. AP PHOTO
from Romania Fed
Cup tie after tirade
CONSTANTA---Romania Fed Cup captain
Ilie Nastase was thrown out of the playoff
against Britain after abusing players and the
The 70-year-old Nastase also publicly hurled
insults at a British journalist in Constanta, a day
after apparently making racially offensive com-
ments about Serena Williams' pregnancy.
International Tennis Federation president Da-
vid Haggerty condemned Nastase for his "unac-
ceptable behaviour," and the body also began an
With Britain's Johanna Konta leading Sorana
Cirstea 6-2, 1-2, Nastase became embroiled in
a row apparently about noise from the crowd.
He was heard to hurl expletives at Konta, Britain
captain Anne Keothavong, and the umpire.
Nastase was sent off the court by referee An-
dreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands,
was then escorted back to the locker room.
The ITF said Egli asked Nastase to leave the
court "for unsportsmanlike conduct, having al-
ready received two official warnings. Mr Nastase
was also removed from the grounds due to his
serious misconduct." Nastase's accreditation was
removed and the ITF's adjudication panel will
now decide on any sanctions.
The match between Konta and Cirstea resumed,
and the British player won five successive games
to win 6-2, 6-3 and level the World Group II play-
off at 1-1.
In incidents away from the court yesterday,
Britain's Press Association said journalist Elea-
nor Crooks was verbally insulted by Nastase for
reporting his comments about Williams. Nastase
told Crooks: "Why did you write that? You're
stupid, you're stupid."
The tirade went on for more than two minutes,
the news agency said.
Nastase, nicknamed "Nasty" in his playing
days, won two Grand Slam singles titles and was
world No 1 in the 1970s. He retired as a player in
1985 and was inducted in the tennis hall of fame
Vandeweghe gives US lead
over Czech Republic
WESLEY CHAPEL---CoCo Vandeweghe beat
Marketa Vondrousova 6-1-6-4 yesterday to give
the United States a 1-0 lead over defending cham-
pion Czech Republic in the Fed Cup semifinals.
The Czechs have won the top team event in
women's tennis the last three years and five of the
last six. The winner of this series will play Belarus
or Switzerland for the title. That semifinal is 1-1.
Vandeweghe, ranked No 24, raced to a one-set
lead in 27 minutes.
No 49 Shelby Rogers of the US faces No 38
Katerina Siniakova in the second singles of the
best-of-five series. They have played once before,
with Siniakova winning a qualifying match for
2015 Italian Open. (AP)
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