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.

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.

Almagro Defeats Nick Kyrgios to Reach the Estoril Open Final

Nicolas Almagro is one win away from ending a four year drought…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis player and clay-court specialist beat second-seeded Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 at the Estoril Open on Saturday to reach his second final of the season.

Nicolas Almagro

Almagro will face fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who upset third-seeded Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal at the clay-court tournament.

The 71st-ranked Almagro saved the only two break points he conceded in the entire match and served seven aces to reach his second final after losing to Dominic Thiem in Argentina in February.

Almagro has 12 career ATP titles, all on clay. He hasn’t won a tournament in four years.

The eighth-seeded Carreno Busta, 24, upset top-seeded Gilles Simon in Friday’s quarterfinals.

The 50th-ranked Spaniard played in his first final at the Brazil Open in February, losing to Pablo Cuevas.

Mónaco Reaches Semis at Austria’s bet-at-home Cup

Juan Mónaco is one step closer to winning his ninth career ATP singles title…

The 29-year-old Argentine tennis star defeated Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals of the bet-at-home Cup in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Juan Monaco

Mónaco, the tournament’s second-seed, secured the victory on the strength of his impressive baseline game, winning a whopping 80-percent of his second-serve points throughout the one-hour, 54-minute contest.

Gimeno-Traver, by contrast, went for bigger serves than the Argentine and won a higher percentage of first-serve points (69 percent to 62 percent) but struggled when he needed to put his second serve in play, winning only 45 percent of those points.

Next up for Mónaco in Friday’s semifinals will be Spain’s Albert Montañes, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Austrian wildcard Dominic Thiem.

Mónaco, who won this event in 2007, is seeking his ninth career ATP singles title.

This Austrian stop on the ATP Tour dates back to 1894, making it one of the oldest events in men’s tennis.