Diego Schwartzman to Face Novak Djokovic in First Group Stage Match at Maiden ATP Finals

Diego Schwartzman is preparing for the big dance…

The 28-year-old Argentine professional tennis player, who clinched the final spot at the prestigious season-ending ATP Finals, will play ATP Tour World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in his first group stage match.

Diego Schwartzman

Schwartzman, competing in his first-ever ATP Finals, will be the first Argentine player to compete at the tournament since Juan Martin del Potro in 2013.

Schwartzman is the eighth singles player from Argentina to feature in the 50-year history of the tournament, following in the footsteps of 1974 titlist Guillermo Vilas (1974-77, ’79-82), Jose-Luis Clerc (1980-83), Guillermo Coria (2003-05), 2005 champion David Nalbandian (2003, ’05-06), Gaston Gaudio (2004-05), Mariano Puerta (2005) and 2009 runner-up del Potro (2008-09, ’12-13).

Schwartzman joins fellow debutant Andrey Rublev of Russia, alongside former qualifiers  Djokovic of Serbia, Spain’s Rafael NadalDominic Thiem of Austria, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the 2020 singles field.

There will be four players aged 24 and under at the ATP Finals for the second straight year. The last time this happened in back-to-back years was in 2008-09.

Schwartzman broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time at No. 8 on 12 October after a run to his first Grand Slam championship semi-final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal). A few weeks earlier, the Buenos Aires resident beat  Nadal en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (l. to Djokovic).

As the first Argentine in the Top 10 since del Potro in May 2019, Schwartzman also finished runner-up at two ATP 250 events in a reduced 2020 season — at the Cordoba Open (l. to Garin) in February and at the bett1HULKS Championship runner-up in Cologne (l. to Zverev) in October.

At 5’7”, Schwartzman is the shortest player in the Top 10 since 5’6″ Harold Solomon, whose last week in the Top 10 began on 27 July 1981.

Rafael Nadal to Face Pablo Carreno Busta in His Return to ATP Tour at the Italian Open

Rafael Nadal is heading back to competitive tennis play…

The 34-year-old tennis star will make his return to the ATP Tour against US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta at the Italian Open in Rome.

Rafael Nadal

In his first appearance since the ATP Tour suspension in March, the nine-time titlist will need to be at the top of his game when he meets his countryman for the sixth time in their head-to-head series (Nadal leads 5-0).

Carreno Busta has made a strong return to the ATP Tour, reaching his second US Open semi-final earlier this week. The Spaniard also lifted his maiden doubles trophy at the Western & Southern Open last month.

Nadal and Carreno Busta most recently met in the third round of this year’s Australian Open, with Nadal winning in straight sets. If he gets past Carreno Busta, he could meet Western & Southern Open finalist Milos Raonic in the third round. Nadal shares the bottom quarter of the draw with eighth seed Diego Schwartzman and US Open quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev.

The five-time year-end World No. 1 enters Rome with a 13-3 record this year. At his most recent event in February, Nadal did not drop a set en route to his 85th tour-level trophy at the Acapulco Open in Mexico.

Chasing his 10th title at the Foro Italico, the Spaniard will look to add to his 61-6 record at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Nadal is currently on a 10-match winning streak in Rome, having won the past two editions of the tournament. The 35-time ATP Masters 1000 winner won three-set battles against Alexander Zverev in the 2018 championship match and Novak Djokovic in last year’s final.

If Nadal triumphs for the third straight year in Rome, he will capture a 10th trophy at a single event for the fourth time in his career. He owns 12 French Open trophies and has won 11 crowns at both the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona OpenRoger Federer is the only other player to have reached double digits at a single ATP Tour event in the Open Era. He owns 10 trophies at the Noventi Open in Halle and the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Pablo Carreno Busta Outlasts Denis Shapovalov to Reach US Open Semifinals

Pablo Carreno Busta has made it to the Final Four at this year’s US Open

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis player battled through five sets in a four-hour evening match that ended after 1:00 am to defeat Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. And now Carreno Busta is back in the US Open semifinals for a second time.

Pablo Carreno Busta

It’s a lot more work than he put in a round earlier.

One match after advancing when No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic was disqualified in the first set, the 20th-seeded expended a lot more energy and outlasted Shapovalov in a long and tense match.

“I’m destroyed,” Carreno Busta said, “but I’m very, very happy.”

Carreno Busta made it to the final four in New York in 2017, losing to eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson at that stage. That was the only previous Grand Slam semifinal appearance for Carreno Busta.      

At least he’ll get a chance to rest up before playing Friday against No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.

Rafael Nadal’s ATP Cup Mural Unveiled in Perth

Rafael Nadal’s face has found a special home Down Under

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, is one of the players being honored with a special mural in Perth, Australia.

Rafael Nadal Mural

The inaugural ATP Cupis set to take place between January 3-12 in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, bringing together some of the world’s leading players in both singles and doubles from 24 countries. 

Weeks before the start of the action, Nodal got his mural in Perth together with Kei Nishikori and other stars, with the organizers welcoming the 19-time Grand Slam champion.

Nadal is among those who’ll fight for the crown together with his teammates, fresh after conquering the first edition of the Davis Cup Finalsin Madrid.

Spain is the favorite to reach the quarters from Group B, battling against Japan, Uruguay and Georgia at RAC Arena in Perth and hoping to continue the competition in Sydney where eight strongest teams continue the quest for the title in the second stage of the event.

Backed by Roberto Bautista AugtPablo Carreno BustaAlbert Ramos-Vinolas and Feliciano Lopez, Nadal is eager to lead Spain towards another team competition crown, shining in front of the home fans in Madrid with eight victories from as many rubbers and delivering the sixth Davis Cup title for Spain.

In what was a wild race towards the finish line, Nadal and Djokovic fought for the year-end no. 1 spot for almost the entire season, with the Spaniard making the deciding move in Montreal and the US Open and keeping the lead in the ATP Raceuntil the ATP Finalswhere they both lost in the round-robin stage.

Rafa and Novak will continue their rivalry at the ATP Cup, joined by Gael MonfilsKei NishikoriDavid GoffinAndy Murray, Grigor DimitrovAlexander ZverevDenis ShapovalovFelix Auger-AliassimeNick KyrgiosAlex de MinaurDaniil MedvedevKaren KhachanovJohn IsnerMatteo BerrettiniFabio FogniniDominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzmanand others.

Diego Schwartzman Defeats Alexander Zverev to Reach Quarterfinals at the US Open

Diego Schwartzman has pulled out a major upset at the US Open…

The 27-year-old Argentine professional tennis player defeated No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev at Flushing Meadows 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals at the Grand Slam event for the second time.

Diego Schwartzman

Zverev doubled-faulted 17 times in the losing effort, and he ended up losing his serve eight times, won just 32% of second-serve points and amassed 65 unforced errors. He also was hit with a point penalty for swearing in the final set to put Schwartzman up 5-2.

“My first serve is still fine. My second serve needs to be worked on,” Zverev said. “But I’ll deal with it.”

The 20th-seeded Schwartzman, meanwhile, went about his steady baseline and retrieving game, taking the majority of long rallies in a match when some points went on for as many as 35 strokes.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarterfinals at the French Openlast year and at Flushing Meadows in 2017, next takes Rafael Nadal.

Garbine Muguruza to Play This Year’s Hopman Cup

Garbine Muguruza is ready to take on the world…

The 24-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player and compatriot David Ferrer will represent Spain in the Hopman Cup mixed teams event in late December.

Garbine Muguruza

The eight-country tournament is scheduled from December 29 to January 5 on indoor hard courts at Perth Arena. It’s used by the players as a tuneup event for the Australian Open, which begins on January 14 in Melbourne.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer have also committed to play, while former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev will represent Germany.

Frances Tiafoe will be Williams’ partner for the United States, while Belinda Bencic will again represent Switzerland with Federer to defend the title they won in January over Kerber and Zverev in the final.

Williams and Federer are scheduled to play mixed doubles against each other when the U.S. meets Switzerland on January 1.

Hopman Cup Teams:
Australia: Matthew Ebden and Ashleigh Barty
France: Lucas Pouille and Alize Cornet
Germany: Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber
Britain: Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter
Greece: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari
Spain: David Ferrer and Garbine Muguruza
Switzerland: Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic
United States: Frances Tiafoe and Serena Williams

Rafael Nadal Defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to Claim Fourth Career Rogers Cup Title

Make that 80 for Rafael Nadal

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis star claimed his 80th ATP World Tour title on Sunday while ruining Stefanos Tsitsipas‘ 20th birthday.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, the top-ranked player in the tournament, beat the unseeded Greek upstart 6-2, 7-6 (4) for his fourth Rogers Cup crown and fifth victory of the year. He has 33 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.

“If you told me this two weeks ago, I would not have believed it,” Nadal said. “It’s a great way to start the hard-court season. Winning in Toronto is so important. You don’t win Masters 1000s very often. It’s a very important victory for me and I’m very happy.”

Nadal also won the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2008 and in Montreal in 2005 and 2013.

“I’m very happy to have this trophy with me again,” Nadal said. “It means a lot. It has been a fantastic week, a very positive one.”

Nadal later announced that he would skip a Masters tournament in Cincinnati this week to rest and get ready for the US Open.

“No other reason than personally taking care of my body and trying to keep as healthy as I feel now,” Nadal said in a statement.

Nadal’s win Sunday was notable. His previous four titles this year came on clay at the French Open, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

He also beat Tsitsipas in in the Barcelona final.

“He was normal like all of us and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s true … that’s how you feel when you play against him. I need to work much more and hopefully I can reach his level one day.”

Nadal overcame a late service break and fought off a set point at the Aviva Centre. He converted his first match point of the tiebreaker to end it.

“He never cracks,” Tsitsipas said. “He will always grab you like a bulldog, and he will always make you suffer on the court.”

Tsitsipas reached the final by becoming the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in an event since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990. He began the run against seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, then knocked off No. 9 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Alexander Zverev and No. 4 Kevin Anderson.

Tsitsipas will jump from 27th to 15th in the world on Monday.

Rafael Nadal Outlasts Alexander Zverev for His Record-Extending Eighth Italian Open Title

Rafael Nadal is still the King of Clay

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star profited from a timely rain delay at a break when he was down in the final set to hold off defending champion and No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 at the Italian Open in Rome.

Rafael Nadal

It was a record-extending eighth Italian Open title for Nadal, who’ll head to Roland Garros as the new world No. 1.

Nadal surrendered top spot in the ATP world rankings to Roger Federer last week after Nadal’s Madrid Open quarterfinal defeat to Dominic Thiem — the only blight on an otherwise impeccable clay-court season this year.

However, Nadal will return to the summit when the latest ATP rankings are published on Monday after he overcame world No. 3 Zverev in a thrilling finale on the Foro Italico’s Campo Centrale.

Billed as a clash between the two current top-form players on clay, Sunday’s final did not disappoint. After two hotly-contested semifinals on Saturday — Nadal saw off long-time rival Novak Djokovic while Zverev smashed a racket in anger during his victory over Marin Cilic — the championship match ebbed and flowed throughout.

Despite dropping serve in the opening game, victory looked like a foregone conclusion for 10-time French Open champion Nadal as he blistered through the first set in 33 minutes to put his young opponent on the back foot.

However, Zverev produced a phenomenal set of tennis to force the decider. The German changed tactics in the second set, becoming much more aggressive on the front foot and overwhelming Nadal with an array of powerful strokes.

The 21-year-old secured a double-break to move 5-0 ahead. After Nadal prevented the bagel, he leveled the match in style with a ferocious backhand winner down the line.

Rising star Zverev’s confidence grew further as he immediately broke Nadal at the start of the third, before the match’s turning point came in agonizing fashion.

With Zverev leading 3-1 in the final set, rain intervened and caused an hour’s delay in play. It proved pivotal, allowing Nadal precious time to regain his composure and hit back immediately after the restart.

Nadal rattled off four consecutive games — including two successive breaks of serve — to move 5-3 ahead before serving out a fifth to secure his eighth Italian crown and send out a warning to his rivals ahead of the year’s second grand slam.

Juan Martin del Potro Wins Mexico Open

It’s Blackjack for Juan Martin del Potro

The 29-year-old Argentinian tennis player won the Mexico Open on Saturday night for his 21st ATP Tour title, beating Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 to improve to 7-0 against the 6-foot-8 South African.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro was projected to switch spots with Anderson in the world ranking, with del Potro going from ninth to eighth. He beat three straight players ranked ahead of him in the hard-court event, topping No. 6 Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals and No. 5 Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.

“It’s a very special tournament to me,” said del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion. “I beat three top-10 guys in the same tournament, which is very important for myself. I’m so glad to win my 21st title playing in Acapulco.”

Potro won for the first time since successfully defending his Stockholm title last year.

“He’s a very dangerous guy,” del Potro said about Anderson. “His serves are so strong, but I got lucky in the important moments of my return games. I broke just twice and that was the key of the match.”

Anderson tweaked his left leg on del Potro’s lob and received treatment at 1-1 in the second.

“It was a little bit uncomfortable at first,” Anderson said. “I think in the bigger picture of things it didn’t really affect things too much,” Anderson said. “I think Juan Martin played really well. He’s obviously a tough competitor and a great player. I just needed to do a little bit more today.”

He won the New York Open two weeks ago for his fourth career title.

“I can take a lot of confidence going into Indian Wells and Miami, two tournaments I really enjoy playing. I feel like I’m playing really good tennis,” Anderson said. “As always, I’ll pick myself up. I’ll try to learn as much as I can from tonight’s match.”

Rafael Nadal Partners with Roger Federer in Laver Cup Doubles Win

Rafael Nadal has found an unlikely doubles partner…

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star joined forces with longtime rival Roger Federer to win a doubles match in the new Laver Cup on Saturday.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal Laver Cup

Nadal and Federer teamed up for the first time to defeat Sam Querrey and Jack Sock 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 in the team event between Europe and the rest of the world.

“It was unbelievable,” Nadal said.

The inaugural Laver Cup is taking place at Prague’s O2 Arena on an unusual black hard court.

Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych also form the European team.

John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe play for the world.

Europe needs two more victories from Sunday’s four games to win.