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.

Roberto Bautista Agut Defeats Guido Pella at Wimbledon to Earn a Spot in His First Grand Slam Semifinal

It’s a special first for Roberto Bautista Agut… 

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis player recovered from a third-set lapse at Wimbledon on Wednesday to book a place in his first Grand Slam championship semifinal.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut, the No. 23 seed, lost his first set, but won 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Guido Pella, the No. 26 seed, in three hours and eight minutes on No. 1 Courtat the All England Club.

“I think I played a great tournament,” said Bautista Agut. “I was playing very good in the first week of the tournament. And today, it was a very difficult match. Guido Pella is a good opponent, has won really good matches this week [and] he was really tough to beat… I’m very happy.”

Bautista Agut is the sixth Spanish man to reach the semifinals at The Championships, following in the footsteps of Manuel Alonso-Areyzaga (1921), Manuel Santana (1963, 1966), Andres Gimeno (1970), Manuel Orantes (1972) and Rafael Nadal (2006-08, 2010-11, 2018).

Bautista Agut will now prepare to meet ATPWorld No. 1 and four-time champion Novak Djokovic on Friday for a place in the Wimbledon final. 

By improving to a 28-11 match record in 2019 with a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals, Bautista Agut moves up to seventh position in the ATP Race To London for one of eight spots at the prestigious ATP Finals, to be held at The O2in London from 10-17 November. 

Juan Martin del Potro Qualifies for the ATP Finals

Juan Martin del Potro has earned a spot in the last big tournament of the year…

The 30-year-old Argentine tennis player has qualified for the ATP Finals for the fifth time by beating Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-6 (4) Wednesday at the China Open.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro, who reached the US Openfinal this year, last qualified for the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world in 2013.

del Potro will next meet Filip Krajinovic in the quarterfinals in Beijing. Krajinovic defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-3.

He was the runner-up in 2009, losing to Nikolay Davydenkoin the finals of the ATP World Tour Finals.

Juan Martin del Potro Wins Stockholm Open for Second Straight Year

The drought has ended for Juan Martin del Potro

The 29-year-old Argentinean tennis star has won the Stockholm Open for the second consecutive year — his first ATP title since his success at the Swedish tournament last year.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro produced a ruthless performance to beat top seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 at The Royal Tennis Hall and help his case in making the ATP Finals in London.

del Potro broke Dimitrov three times over the course of an impressive display — saving all four of the break points Dimitrov created to keep his own serve unbroken throughout.

In the wake of clinching his 20th career ATP title, fourth seed del Potro said: “I played the best match of the week against Grigor today. Unlucky for that, sorry Grigor.

“It’s amazing to come back and hold this big trophy and hopefully I can come next year as well.

“I love to be in Stockholm. I like the city a lot. I like the Swedish people and you treated me very, very good this week and I would like to thank everyone.”

Juan Martin del Potro Defeats Fernando Verdasco to Reach Stockholm Open Final

Juan Martin del Potro is one win away from a repeat…

The 29-year-old Argentinian tennis player outlasted Fernando Verdasco at the Stockholm Open on Saturday in a tussle between two of the biggest forehands in tennis, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(1).

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro, the reigning champion, will now face top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the finals.

“It was a great match. We both played great tennis and I think the crowd enjoyed our game,” del Potro said. “I’m glad to be in the final once again.”

del Potro is into his first final of the season, and his first overall since lifting the trophy in Sweden last year. The right-hander will attempt to win his 20th title on Sunday.

The match will be of the utmost importance for del Potro in the ATP Race To London, as he has made a late-season charge to put himself within striking distance of qualifying for the ATP Finals.

del Potro is now into 15th in the Race with 2,035 points, and can ascend to 14th with a victory. If he beats the 2013 champion, del Potro will be within 480 points of No. 9 Pablo Carreno Busta, who has 2,605 points and currently holds the final qualifying spot with No. 7 Stan Wawrinka out for the season due to injury.

It was not easy for del Potro to give himself that opportunity to make a move in the Race, as the veteran left-hander Verdasco pushed the Argentine the distance.

Verdasco earned an immediate break of serve in the third set to gain a 2-0 advantage with his forehand keeping his opponent on the back foot, but del Potro roared right back with a break of his own, using his own timely forehands. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ then saved a break point at 3-4, which would have allowed Verdasco to serve for the match. Once the pair got to the tie-break, it was all del Potro.

“I was focused during the third set and in the tie-break I broke a few times at the beginning and that allowed me to play with more confidence in my game on my serve,” del Potro said. “I played a good match today.”

del Potro will not have it easy on Sunday as he attempts to defend his title against an in-form Dimitrov. With his 6-3, 7-6(2) semi-final victory over sixth seed Fabio Fognini, the Bulgarian moved up to No. 5 in the Race, and put himself in position to win a career-best fourth title of the season (Brisbane, Sofia, Cincinnati).

del Potro leads in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 5-2, but Dimitrov has won the past two matches, both straight-set victories this year in Beijing and Cincinnati.

“I would love to defend my title but Grigor is playing so good. He already beat me in Beijing and Cincinnati as well and he’s playing such good tennis on this surface,” del Potro said. “Hopefully I can be ready to put up a good fight.”

Ferrer Replacing the Injured Milos Roanic at the ATP Finals

He may have no chance of advancing, but David Ferrer will still get some time on the courts at the ATP Finals.

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player has replaced Milos Roanic at the year-end tournament. The switch comes after the Canadian player withdrew with a quad injury before his final round-robin match against Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Thursday.

David Ferrer

The seventh-seeded Raonic, who lost his first two matches in Group B in straight sets, will be replaced by Ferrer, the first alternate at the ATP Finals.

“As badly as I wanted to play, you’ve got to be at the top of your game here and I couldn’t be close to that today,” said the big-serving Canadian. “Wouldn’t have been fair to the fans if I had played a mediocre match or had to stop.”

Six-time champion Roger Federer will take on Andy Murray in the group’s other match. If the 17-time Grand Slam champion beats Murray and Nishikori defeats Ferrer, then the Scot will be eliminated from the indoor event.

Ferrer, who trained in London this week, has no chance of making it to the semifinals. At the Paris Masters last month, he saw his hopes of qualifying for the Finals vanish after losing a tough battle to Nishikori in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard came within two points of victory but failed to hold on to his lead.

Raonic, one of the three newcomers in London with Marin Cilic and Nishikori, said he picked up his injury during his defeat to Murray.

“I have a slight tear in my quad and a large area of swelling,” he said. “I’ve had a great time here. It motivates me a lot to come here next year and do better than I did.”

Ferrer Oulasts Philipp Kohlschreiber to Reach Erste Bank Open Final

 David Ferrer is a survivor…

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player came back from a break down in the final set to defeat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (3) on Saturday and set up a final match against Andy Murray at the Erste Bank Open.

David Ferrer

Ferrer, the tournament’s top seed, will appear in his fourth final of the season. He’s seeking his 22nd career ATP title and second of the year.

Murray leads Ferrer 7-6 though the fifth-ranked Spaniard won their only previous meeting this season in Shanghai last week. Both players are competing to qualify for the ATP Finals in London next month.

“I am fighting for the Race to London,” Ferrer said and called the final “a difficult match for sure. I know I have to play very good and have to serve better.”

Murray’s 50th win of the season saw him provisionally rise to eighth place in the qualifying race to the eight-man event.

If Murray holds on to his position, he will qualify for a seventh straight year for the prestigious season-ending tournament, though he pulled out following back surgery in 2013.

But he faces a tough challenge from Ferrer, who hadn’t lost a service game in the tournament before the semifinals but had to save five break points in the opening set against Kohlschreiber.

The German managed to break Ferrer twice in the second set to level the match but couldn’t hold on to a 4-2 lead in the final set.

del Potro Defeats Rafael Nadal to Reach Shanghai Masters Final

Juan Martin del Potro has taken down the world’s No. 1 player in China…

The 25-year-old Argentine tennis player defeated Rafael Nadal, who just returned to the top of the world rankings after an impressive run this year, 6-2, 6-4 in the Shanghai Masters semifinals on Saturday.

Juan Martin del Potro

The fifth-ranked del Potro will now attempt to win his first Masters title on Sunday against top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the other semifinal 6-2, 7-5.

del Potro hadn’t beaten Nadal since the semifinals of the 2009 U.S. Open where he went on to win his only Grand Slam title.

But del Potro is playing fully fit and confident — he’s coming off a win last week at the Japan Open that returned him to the top five in the rankings for the first time in three years.

He completely overpowered Nadal with his deep, punishing groundstrokes and fended off all six break points he faced.

Nadal’s serve, on the other hand, was under threat during the entire match. After not dropping serve in 28 games this week, the Spaniard was broken twice to start the match as del Potro raced out to 4-0.

Del Potro started to make a few mistakes in the second set, giving Nadal two chances to break in the second game. But the Argentine saved both with huge serves and put the pressure right back on Nadal, breaking him for a third time in the following game.

“I played so solid all the time, hitting so hard the ball. I saw Rafa playing very far off the baseline, which is good for my game, for my serve and confidence. That’s the way to beat this guy,” del Potro said.

Nadal said he hadn’t seen del Potro play this well in years. Or anyone, for that matter.

“Very few times I played against a player with a level like today I played against,” the Spaniard said. “At the end, I played against a player who served 80 percent of first serves, who hit every ball as hard as he can, I think, and with no mistakes.”

del Potro wrapped up a spot in the ATP Finals in London with the win. He’s been working his way back into top form since a wrist injury knocked him off the tour for most of 2010 — just after he got his breakthrough win as a 20-year-old at the U.S. Open.