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.

Jaume Munar Defeats Fabio Fognini to Advance to the Argentina Open Quarterfinals

Jaume Munaris making his mark in Argentina…

The 21-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated No. 2 seed Fabio Fognini at the Argentina Open 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday in the round of 16.

Jaume Munar

Fognini’s compatriot, third-seeded Marco Cecchinato, had better luck and won his tie with Chile’s Christian Garin 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Cecchinato will play Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard advanced after a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.

In an all-Argentine game, Guido Pella beat Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Pella will face Spain’s Munar in the next round of the clay court tournament.

No. 1 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria will play his first match in the Argentina Open on Thursday against Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.

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.”

Nadal Defeats Fabio Fognini to Reach Men’s Final at the Miami Open

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to a historic title…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star, a four-time runner-up at the Miami Open, beat unseeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5 in the semifinals at Key Biscayne to earn his spot in the finals.

Rafael Nadal,

Nadal, who lost in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014, is playing in the tournament for the 13th time, making it his longest title drought at any event.

“For me the most important thing is to be in the final,” Nadal told the crowd. “That’s great news for me.”

Nadal’s opponent Sunday will be Roger Federer, who defeated Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (9), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5) in the other semifinal. The showdown comes 13 years after their first career encounter, also at Key Biscayne.

“My biggest rival,” Federer said. “It feels like old times.”

Said Nadal: “I’m just excited to play against Roger always. He’s a big challenge for me, and I think for everybody.”

Seeded fifth, Nadal eliminated Fognini without facing a break point, and lost only nine of 46 points on his serve.

Fognini, the first unseeded men’s semifinalist since 2007, looked listless at the start in 86-degree sunshine. He finished with 38 unforced errors, compared with 12 for Nadal.

The crowd chanted Fognini’s first name in an attempt to get the Italian going, and flying footwear did the job. Fognini hit a drop shot to cause the sneaker malfunction, laughed at length while Nadal retied his shoe and played better after that.

The second set was up for grabs until Fognini double-faulted to fall behind 6-5. Nadal then served out the match at love.

Nadal improved to 19-4 this year and leads the men’s tour in wins.

Nadal Two Wins Away from Ending Drought at Miami Open

Rafael Nadal is two wins away from a career first…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star, a four-time runner-up at the Miami Open, defeated American Jack Sock to advance to the men’s semifinals on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Sock have the two most fearful forehands in the game, but at Key Biscayne, it was the Spaniard who showed Sock that other parts of the game matter, as well.

Nadal’s opponent Friday will be Fabio Fognini, who became the first unseeded player in 10 years to reach the men’s semis at Key Biscayne when he beat 2016 runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal is playing Key Biscayne for the 13th time, making it his longest title drought at any tournament. He committed only 12 unforced errors against the No. 13-seeded Sock, rallied from a break down in the second set and improved his lifetime record against Americans to 60-9.

Fognini matched his best showing in an ATP Masters 1000 event. By beating the No. 2-seeded Nishikori, Fognini improved to 9-44 against top-10 players, and he became the first Italian man to reach a semifinal at Key Biscayne.

“He’s playing well,” Nadal said. “It will be a good test for me. I’m happ to be in the semifinals. I’ll have to play my best and play aggressive like I did today.”

Dutra Silva Claims First-Ever ATP World Tour Doubles Title

It’s a special first for Rogerio Dutra Silva

The 33-year-old Brazilian tennis player has claimed his first ATP World Tour doubles title.

Dutra Silva and his partner and compatriot Andre Sa defeated fourth-seeded Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner in the Men’s Doubles final to claim the Brasil Open championship title by a final score of 7-6 (5), 5-7, 10-7.

Dutra Silva and Sa failed to convert any of their five break opportunities in the match, but did save six out of seven of their opponents’ break point chances. It took just over two hours for the clash to be concluded; two hours and two minutes.

Prior to the Sao Paulo event, Sa and Dutra Silva had never played together, making all the way to the finals in first-ever tournament as a team.

Doubles specialist Sa now has 11 ATP doubles titles to his name, while Dutra Silva has captured his first-ever ATP doubles title.

In the semifinals, Dutra Silva and Sa, unseeded in the tournament, beat Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and eight minutes.

Carreño Busta Beats Fabio Fognini at the Kremlin Cup to Claim Second Career ATP Title

Pablo Carreño Busta is back in the winner’s circle…

The 25-year-old Spanish professional tennis player came back from a set down to beat Italy’s Fabio Fognini on Sunday and win the Kremlin Cup.

Pablo Carreño Busta

Carreño Busta won his second career title 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 despite needing treatment on his ankle midway through the second set.

Fognini saved two match points in the final game before Carreño Busta secured the win, dropping to his knees in celebration.

The victory caps a strong season for Carreño Busta, who won his first ATP title at the Winston-Salem Open in August.

He is 2-2 in career finals, while Fognini drops to 4-8.

Nadal Defeats Kei Nishikori to Claim Barcelona Open Title

Rafael Nadal is back-to-back tournament champion…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star beat defending champion Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open for the ninth time on Sunday, equaling Guillermo Vilas‘ record of 49 career clay-court titles.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal added this title to his trophy from the Monte Carlo Open last week as the 14-time Grand Slam winner regains form on his favorite surface ahead of next month’s French Open.

Nishikori had won the tournament for the last two years after early exits by Nadal.

In an entertaining clash of the two top-seeded players, Nadal proved more decisive under pressure, saving seven of eight break chances in the first set while converting the two chances he got.

The Spaniard then bettered second-seeded Nishikori through several superb rallies in a back-and-forth second set to win key points and claim his 69th career title in his 101st final.

“I was playing against the No. 6 player in the world, and if you don’t play at your best you aren’t going to win,” Nadal said.

“I served well and that allowed me to play better. In the second set I missed several chances, and at the end it was very close, but I stayed mentally strong.”

After losing to Fabio Fognini in the round of 16 last year, Nadal blamed his poor forehand. A year later, all Nadal’s power was back on display, driving forehand strokes past Nishikori when it really mattered.

Playing near their best, both top-10 players never let the other settle in while serving.

Level at 3-3 in the first set, Nishikori had three break points, but Nadal saved them all by winning five straight points.

Nadal earned a second break to claim the first set when the Spaniard won with a shot which clipped the top of the net.

Nishikori immediately responded by rallying from 0-40 down to break Nadal’s first service game of the second set.

Nadal answered with a hard-fought game — which included two superb rallies won by the home favorite at the net — to recover the break.

Nishikori got back in the match after Nadal misjudged a ball that he thought was going wide when he could have smashed it. The ball fell in, and Nishikori broke Nadal with an unreachable drop shot for 4-3.

Nishikori then landed another risky drop shot to save a championship point and make it 5-5, but Nadal claimed victory two games later when the Japanese player sent the ball into the net.

Nadal Wins Hamburg Open, Closes in on Guillermo Vilas’ Clay Court Title Record

Rafael Nadal is thisclose to cementing his status as the “King of Clay.”

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star managed to overcome some sloppy play on his favorite surface to beat Fabio Fognini 7-5, 7-5 and win the Hamburg Open for the second time on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal squandered a 3-1 lead in the final set and saved two set points before prevailing in 2 hours and 34 minutes over the eighth-seeded Italian and the 2013 Hamburg winner.

“It was a great match, many great points, many breaks, we fought hard,” Nadal said. “I had many ups and downs.”

The former World No. 1 extended his run of having won at least one European clay-court title every year since 2004 when he took his maiden crown in Sopot, Poland.

“It’s an important title for me,” Nadal said.

Nadal now has 47 clay-court titles, second only to Guillermo Vilas‘ 49. It was Nadal’s second title on clay this year after Buenos Aires in February. He has 67 career titles overall. Nadal won in Hamburg in 2008.

With his third title of the year, Nadal will rise one spot to No. 9 in the rankings.

Fognini was trying to become the first player to beat Nadal three times on clay in a year. With six losses this year, Nadal has as many defeats on clay as in three previous years combined.

The two players traded breaks in the first four games and Nadal saved one break point to hold for 6-5. Fognini then saved three break points before Nadal clinched the set with a forehand return.

Nadal served for a 4-1 lead in the second, but Fognini turned the match before wasting two set points in the 10th game.

Nadal again had to save two break points before going 6-5 up. Two successive forehand errors by Fognini gave Nadal the match in the next game.

Nadal Defeats Andreas Seppi to Reach Hamburg Open Final

Rafael Nadal is back in an ATP men’s final…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star beat Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 to set up a Hamburg Open final against Fabio Fognini.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal served a double-fault at match point in the seventh game before breaking serve in the next to win.

Nadal, the tournament’s top seed, is looking to extend his streak of having won at least one European clay-court title every year since 2004.

The former World No. 1 has dropped to 10th in the rankings and is playing his first tournament since losing in the second round of Wimbledon.

He won in Hamburg in 2008, the last time he played in the clay-court event.

The fourth-seeded Fognini beat qualifier Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (3) after saving a set point in the second set.

Nadal holds a 4-2 career edge over Fognini, the 2013 Hamburg champion.