Humbert upsets Zverev for Halle Open quarterfinal spot

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HALLE, Germany — Ugo Humbert upset Alexander Zverev in the second round of the grass-court Halle Open on Thursday to leave Andrey Rublev as the only seeded player to reach the quarterfinals.

The third-seeded Zverev hit 20 aces but it wasn’t enough as Humbert won a close match 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3.

Zverev is a two-time runner-up in Halle but has yet to win a title on grass. Humbert is in back-to-back quarterfinals on grass after doing the same in Stuttgart last week.

It’s the first time in Halle’s 28-year history that seven of the eight quarterfinalists are unseeded, the ATP said. Fourth-seeded Rublev is the exception after the Russian beat Jordan Thompson on Wednesday.

U.S. player Sebastian Korda, the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda, beat Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 to set up a quarterfinal against Humbert. Korda won his first tour title in Parma on clay last month and is in his first tour-level grass tournament.

Nikoloz Basilashvili won against Arthur Rinderknech 6-2, 7-5 after saving two set points at 5-4 down in the second set. He will play South African Lloyd Harris, who beat qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-3, 7-6 (8).

US Open tennis tournament to allow 100% fan capacity in 2021

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The U.S. Open tennis tournament will allow 100% spectator capacity throughout its entire two weeks in 2021, a year after spectators were banned from the event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Thursday that all tickets for courts and grounds passes will go on sale in July.

The year’s last Grand Slam tournament is scheduled to be held at Flushing Meadows in New York from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12.

The USTA’s decision to return to its usual number of people on-site is the latest step in a return to normal for New York – and for fans of various sports – as the world emerges from more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said many of the state’s remaining social distancing rules would be eased because 70% of its adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The New York Mets announced Wednesday they will return to full capacity next week. A sellout crowd of 52,078 attended a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The Indianapolis 500 on May 30 sold around 135,000 tickets, which is 40% of capacity at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For tennis, the U.S. Open will be the first Grand Slam tournament to have full attendance since the Australian Open in January-February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus outbreak turned into a full-blown pandemic.

The USTA held the 2020 U.S. Open with no spectators at all, significantly altering the atmosphere and the competitive conditions at an event where raucous crowds are a part of the scenery, especially during night sessions at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.

More than 700,000 people attended the 2019 U.S. Open.

The recently concluded French Open let more than 5,000 spectators into the Roland Garros grounds each day during Week 1, and that rose to more than 13,000 people by the end. The main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, was limited to 5,000 fans – about a third of capacity – for the singles finals last weekend.

The All England Club and British government announced this week that Centre Court would be filled at 50% capacity when Wimbledon starts on June 28, with that rising to 100% by the women’s and men’s singles finals on the closing weekend of July 10-11.

Wimbledon was canceled completely in 2020 because of the pandemic, the first time since 1945 that tournament wasn’t held.

Rafael Nadal pulls out of Wimbledon and Tokyo Olympics

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MADRID — Rafael Nadal will not play at Wimbledon or at the Tokyo Olympics, saying Thursday he has decided to skip the two tournaments after “listening” to his body.

Nadal, who reached the French Open semifinals last week but lost to Novak Djokovic, has won the title at Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010. He also won the Olympic gold medal in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games and in doubles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition,” Nadal said.

The 35-year-old Spaniard said the fact that there are only two weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon “didn’t make it easier” on his body to recover from “the always demanding” clay-court season.

“Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.

Nadal is a 20-time Grand Slam champion with a record 13 titles at the French Open.

His loss at Roland Garros last Friday was only his third in 108 matches at a tournament he won each of the last four years, including by beating Djokovic in the 2020 final.

Nadal sent a “special message” to fans in Britain and Japan in particular.

“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live,” he wrote. “I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country.”

Nadal hadn’t played much amid the coronavirus pandemic and had a slow start to his season. He won two titles, in Barcelona and in Rome, and had a 23-4 record so far this year.