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.

Fernando Verdasco Defeats Andy Murray to Advance to Third Round at the US Open

Fernando Verdasco is celebrating a big win…

The 34-year-old Spanish professional tennis player defeated Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of the US Open.

Fernando Verdasco

Verdasco, the No. 31 seed, will face a second straight past champion at Flushing Meadows when he meets third-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in the third round.

Verdasco won for just the second time in 15 career meetings with Murray, who had multiple chances to even the final game of a 64-minute final set before the left-hander finished it.

“I think some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I’ve played since I had the surgery or since I came back,” Murray said. “But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where, you know, I really didn’t play particularly well. I hit a lot of mistakes when I was up in that set. I feel like I should have won the first set and didn’t.

“Then kind of at the end when back was against the wall, I came up with some good tennis to make it close and interesting at the end and almost got myself back into it. You know, there were too many ups and downs for my liking.”

Juan Martin del Potro Defeats Robin Haase at Paris Masters in Quest to Earns Spot at the ATP Finals

Juan Martin del Potro is one step closer to earning a spot in the big show…

The 29-year-old Argentinean tennis star  moved closer to securing the last spot for the season-ending ATP Finals by beating Robin Haase 7-5, 6-4 in the third round at the Paris Masters.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro, who lost to Roger Federer on Sunday in the Swiss Indoors final, is in 10th place in the race to qualify for the tournament.

Only the top eight players will compete in London and there is one place left, to be taken in Paris.

“I would love to reach London once again. It could be a fantastic moment for me,” said del Potro, who was way back in 47th place in the race before the U.S. Open.

“I’m excited to keep improving for this kind of surprise. I love to surprise myself and that’s what I’m doing now.”

del Potro has a tough challenge next, against big-serving John Isner.

The ninth-seeded Isner, last year’s runner-up to Andy Murray, hit 25 aces as he beat sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (10), 5-7, 7-6 (3).

Rafael Nadal Seeded No. 1 at the US Open

Rafael Nadal is the man to beat at the US Open…

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star, who returned to the No. 1 spot on the ATP World rankings last week, is seeded No. 1 at the US Open for the first time since 2010.

Rafael Nadal

The U.S. Tennis Association announced the seedings Thursday, strictly adhering to this week’s ATP rankings.

Nadal returned last week to No. 1, a ranking he last held in 2014. That year’s French Open was the last time the Spaniard was seeded No. 1 at any major.

The man Nadal replaced atop the ATP, Andy Murray, is seeded No. 2 at Flushing Meadows, with Roger Federer No. 3.

Alexander Zverev is No. 4, and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic is No. 5.

Rafael Nadal Returns to No. 1 in the ATP World Rankings

Rafael Nadal is back on top…

Almost nine years to the day since he first became No. 1, the 31-year-old Spanish tennis star has returned to the top of the ATP rankings for his fourth stint at the pinnacle.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, who had previously spent 141 total weeks at No. 1, replaces Andy Murray, who had held the top spot for 41 weeks since November 7, 2016.

Nadal, who first ascended to No. 1 on August 18, 2008 at the age of 22, last held top spot three years and 45 days ago on July 6, 2014.

Nadal will now look to stay ahead of rival Roger Federer and finish atop the year-end ATP rankings for the first time since 2013 and for the fourth time in his career (2008, 2010, 2013).

“Being No. 1 after all the things that I have been going through the last couple of years is something unbelievable, so [it] is, for me, an amazing achievement to be back to that position after [a] few years, three years,” said Nadal.

Nadal has spent three previous stints at No. 1 – 46 weeks between August 18, 2008 and July 5, 2009, 56 weeks from June 7, 2010 to July 3, 2011 and 39 weeks between October 7, 2013 and July 6, 2014.

He holds the record for the longest gap – nine years and three days – between his debut at No. 1 and his return today, which betters the previous mark of Jimmy Connors, who was first No. 1 on July 29, 1974 and last at No. 1 on July 3, 1983 – a gap of eight years and 339 days.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, “To regain the No. 1 ranking nine years after having first reached it is unprecedented. Rafa has been setting records throughout his remarkable career and this one is as impressive as any. It shows incredible dedication and longevity, and we congratulate him on this amazing achievement.”

Nadal, who ended the 2016 season early due to a wrist injury, has returned in 2017 playing some of the best tennis of his career. In compiling an ATP World Tour-best 49-9 match record, Nadal has captured four trophies this season, including historic 10th titles at Roland Garros (d. Wawrinka), the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Ramos-Vinolas) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Thiem), in addition to a fifth crown at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).

He has also reached three other finals – the Australian Open (l. to Federer), Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Querrey) and the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer).

On 12 June, Nadal became the first player to qualify for the 2017 season-ending ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. It is the 13th straight year that he has qualified for the elite eight-player tournament.

Rafael Nadal Wins in Straight Sets to Reach Fourth Round at Wimbledon

It’s on to the next one for Rafael Nadal

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Centre Court to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal is now three matches away from regaining his former ranking as the No. 1 player in the world.

If he reaches the final at the All England Club, the two-time Wimbledon champion will take over from Andy Murray as the top-ranked player in the world.

The fourth-seeded Nadal also extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 28 sets, tying himself for third among men in the Open Era. He also won 28 sets in a row in Grand Slam events in 2010.

Roger Federer holds the record in the Open Era, winning 36 consecutive sets in Grand Slam matches spanning from 2006 into 2007. 

John McEnroe won 35 straight in 1984.

Nadal will next face France’s Gilles Muller in the fourth round.

Zeballos Defeats Karen Khachanov to Reach Barcelona Open Semifinals

Horacio Zeballos is one win away from a long-awaited return to a tournament final… But, he’ll have to take down the defending champion to get there.

The 32-year-old Argentine tennis player didn’t drop a serve in beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-1 at the Barcelona Open to reach the semifinals.

Horacio Zeballos

Zeballos, currently ranked No. 84 in the world, will play defending champion Rafael Nadal.

Zeballos is trying to reach his first ATP final since a memorable title run at the Chile Open four years ago.

Zeballos won his first pro title in February 2013 at that same Viña del Mar tournament. In the final, he beat Nadal, becoming one of the only four players (with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) to beat the former world no. 1 in a clay-court final.

Nadal Defeats Gael Monfils at the Australian Open to Reach His 30th Career Grand Slam Quarterfinal

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to a real comeback…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star and former World No. 1, who hasn’t won a Grand Slam since taking the French Open title in 2014, defeated sixth-seeded Gael Monfils in four sets on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the 30th time.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s victory is even prompting talk of a possible Australian Open final against Roger Federer.

With No. 1-ranked Andy Murray and No. 2 Novak Djokovic — the two most consistent performers in the past six years at Melbourne Park — upset in the first week, Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, Nadal’s next opponent, is the highest-ranked player left in the draw.

He advanced to the last eight here for the third straight year with a 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut.

Nadal, seeded No. 9 at this tournament, is the only major winner still in contention on the bottom half of the draw, although he hasn’t added to his tally of 14 majors since the capturing the French Open in 2014.

Federer, in the top half of the draw, plays Mischa Zverev on Tuesday, and would have to beat him and either Stan Wawrinka or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — the other quarterfinalists playing Tuesday — to advance to the final.

Nadal’s 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over US Open semifinalist Monfils in the fourth round was his first over a top-10 player at a Grand Slam since that run to his last title at Roland Garros. It also ended a four-match losing streak against top-10 players.

“Being in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam after couple of years not being there is very special for me,” said Nadal, who last progressed this far at the 2015 French Open.

It also showed that after a couple of months off to rest his injured left wrist, he is still a contender at the majors. He hasn’t won an Australian title since 2009.

He went up a break early in the first two sets, had his chances in the third before Monfils rallied, and then traded breaks in the fourth before breaking the acrobatic Frenchman to win. Overall, he converted six of 17 break point chances.

del Potro Defeats Jack Sock at the Stockholm Open to End Long ATP Title Drought

It’s the end of a long drought for Juan Martin del Potro

The 28-year-old Argentine tennis player won the Stockholm Open on Sunday to end a 33-month title drought, beating sixth-seeded Jack Sock 7-5, 6-1.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro, who has struggled with wrist problems in recent years, won his 19th ATP tour title — and his first since winning in Sydney in 2014.

The Argentine, who did not drop a set during the tournament, broke his American opponent’s serve four times in the final and never faced a break point.

“I’ve been trying to fix my problems for the past two years and I didn’t expect to win a title at this moment in my career,” the 28-year-old del Potro said. “I am so happy to get the trophy here. It’s motivation for looking forward to the future.”

Both players held serve until 5-5 of the opening set, when del Potro raised his game to emerge with a one-set lead.

Sock seemed tired in the second set, holding serve only once and winning just two points when returning serve.

“His serve is massive and very tough to read, which put more pressure on my serve,” Sock said. “I’ve had a long week here and it might have caught up with me a bit.”

Midway through the match Sock requested medical treatement for pain in his arm.

del Potro, beaten by Andy Murray for the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games, reached his second final of the year after beating 2013 champion Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

Mayer Defeats Britain’s Dan Evans to Secure Argentina’s Spot in the Davis Cup Finals

Leonardo Mayer will return to his home country a hero…

The 29-year-old Argentine tennis player came from behind to defeat Britain’s Dan Evans 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 in the decisive fifth match to defeat defending champions Great Britain in the Davis Cup semifinals.

Leonardo Mayer

After Andy Murray beat Guido Pella 6-3 6-2 6-3 to level the tie at 2-2, it was confirmed that Argentina’s star man, Juan Martin del Potro, would sit out the final match up and be replaced by ATP world No. 114 Mayer.

“We had to keep it to ourselves until the last moment so Great Britain were thinking a little bit, but we knew from last night that Mayer would play,” said Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic.

In the absence of del Potro, who wasn’t in good enough shape to play on Sunday after wearing himself out after deciding to play in Saturday’s doubles match, it was Mayer who stepped up.

Argentina will now travel to Croatia for the Davis Cup final in November.