Roberto Bautista Agut to Headline the Three-Event Series ‘UTR Pro Series-Spain’

Roberto Bautista Agut is heading back to the court…

The 32-year-old Spanish professional tennis player will headline the UTR Pro Series-Spain, a three-event series that’ll be played on successive weekends beginning July 10 in Barcelona.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Conspicuous in his absence: ATP No. 2 ranked Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t taken part in any of the growing number of “re-opening” events tennis entrepreneurs and officials have staged during the suspension of ATP and WTA tennis due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Spanish events will feature Bautista Agut, ranked No. 12 in the world, No. 25 Pablo Carreno Busta, and Albert Ramos-Viñolas, who is No. 41. Two of the other committed players are well-known veterans Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, both of whom are still ranked in the Top 100.

The UTR Pro Series tournament format is modeled on the wildly popular exhibition event created by Roger Federer, the Laver Cup (this year’s event, scheduled for Boston in late September, has been canceled due to a conflict with the postponed French Open). 

The eight participants in the UTR showdown will be divided into two teams. The matches will be best-three sets, but with a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set.

UTR, or Universal Tennis Rating, is an organization built on the foundation of a rating system that differs substantially from the formal ATP ranking system. It rates all players, including top pros, solely on the basis of their results against each other in recent matches recognized by UTR. It’s already widely used in junior play and by college recruiters, and has sponsored a number of exhibitions in recent months.

Federer is out of action for the rest of the year due to an aggravated knee injury. Novak Djokovic made his first appearance as a player during the coronavirus pandemic in late June, but the four-tournament Adria Tour he conceived turned into a debacle due to an outbreak of coronavirus. Djokovic was among those who tested positive for Covid-19.

Nadal has kept his distance from the exhibition circuit, and has also expressed disappointment at the prospect of playing without fans in attendance at the upcoming US Open. He hasn’t yet decided if he’ll defend his title in New York.

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 Leads Spain to Davis Cup Title Over Canada

Rafael Nadalhas helped Spain win big…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star, ranked No. 1 in the world, risked injury by playing eight matches — five singles, three doubles — in six days at the Davis Cup Finals, the new World Cup of tennis.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal won all of them, leading Spain to its sixth Davis Cup title after a 2-0 win over first-time finalist Canada on Sunday.

But in Nadal’s view, the only hero for Spain was grieving teammate Roberto Bautista Agut. He sent Spain on its way to victory by winning the first singles match on Sunday, three days after the death of his father.

“I’ve won the eight matches but the person who was vital in this Davis Cup was Roberto,” Nadal said. “For me, what he did was something almost inhuman. I don’t know how to explain it. It will be an example for the rest of my life. He had to leave, then his dad died, then he came back and practiced with us yesterday, and today he was ready again to play at a very high level. It was something incredible.”

Spain Davis Cup

Before Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (7) to clinch the title — Spain’s first since also winning at home in 2011 — Bautista Agut had given Spain a 1-0 lead by beating Felix Auger-Aliassime7-6 (3), 6-3.

Bautista Agut pointed his finger to the sky after winning the final point in his match, and was in tears while speaking briefly to the crowd, which chanted his name. And he was the Spanish player lifting the cup in the title celebrations.

Bautista Agut’s father died on Thursday — a day after his son had defeated Nikola Mektic of Croatia — with his health deteriorating quickly after an illness that stemmed from a 2016 accident.

Bautista Agut, No. 9 in the world, played as teammates Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers nursed injuries entering the final.

As for Nadal, he considered himself lucky to be able to play all matches.

“It’s true that I held up, but we know that playing so many matches in this [hard-court] surface is risky for me, something can happen at any time,” Nadal said. “That’s how it’s been in the past, but luckily I held up.”

Spain’s Granollers and Feliciano Lopezhad been scheduled to face Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisilin the now-canceled doubles match, although Nadal was likely to play if the title had been at stake. Nadal played in the decisive doubles on Friday and Saturday.

Voted the tournament’s best player, Nadal sealed the title with his 29th straight Davis Cup singles win, igniting the home crowd’s celebrations.

Tournament organizer and Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, his wife Shakira — who performed in the closing ceremony — and Spanish King Felipe VI were among those celebrating Spain’s triumph.

Spain’s other Davis Cup titles were in 2000, ’04, ’08, ’09 and ’11.

The new Davis Cup Finals is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the Kosmos group co-founded by Pique.

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.

Feliciano Lopez Breaks Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Singles Tournament Appearance Record

Feliciano Lopez is making history…

The 36-year-old Spanish professional tennis player broke Roger Federer’s record by appearing in a 66th consecutive Grand Slam singles tournament while competing at Wimbledon.

Feliciano Lopez

Lopez defeated Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 during his first round match.

Back in2005, he was the first male Spanish tennis player to reach the quarterfinals at the All England Club since 1972, when Manuel Orantes reached the semifinals. He repeated the feat in 2008 and 2011.

Lopez won his first Grand Slam title at the 2016 French Open when he won the men’s doubles title with Marc López.

Lopez to Replace Rafael Nadal for Spain’s Next Davis Cup Series

Feliciano Lopez is ready to rumble…

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis player will replace Rafael Nadal on Spain’s Davis Cup team.

Feliciano Lopez

Nadal decided to take time off after his Australian Open final loss to Roger Federer.

The Spanish tennis federation said Nadal has been dropped from Spain’s Davis Cup team because of fatigue following his five-set loss to Federer in Sunday’s final.

Lopez will now fill in for Nadal at next weekend’s best-of-five series at Croatia in the first round of the World Group.

The federation said the decision was made after a recommendation by doctor Angel Ruiz Cotorro, who said Nadal’s recovery time would be too short. He said it was taken into consideration that Nadal played a significant number of matches after a four-month layoff because of a wrist injury.

“Rafa’s wear and tear in the last month was very significant,” Spain captain Conchita Martinez said. “He needs to recover from his recent efforts and certainly will be with us again in the next rounds.”

The 14-time Grand Slam champion is expected to return to action in Rotterdam from Feb. 13-19.

Nadal, ranked No. 6 in the world, helped Spain defeat India last year to secure its return to the World Group, although he missed his singles match because of the lingering wrist injury.

The other Spanish players to face Croatia are Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and Marc Lopez.

Nadal & Marc Lopez Win the Men’s Doubles Gold in Tennis at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Rafael Nadal has taken full advantage of a golden opportunity…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star has added a second Olympic tennis gold medal to all of his Grand Slam trophies, teaming with childhood friend Marc Lopez to win the men’s doubles championship for Spain at the 2016 Rio Games.

Rafael Nadal & Marc Lopez

Nadal and Lopez came back from a break down in the third set and claimed the last three games to beat Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the final Friday.

Nadal, a 14-time champion at major tournaments, also won an Olympic title in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games after defeating Chile’s Fernando González. This is the first medal for Lopez.

The silver for Mergea and Tecau is the first tennis medal for Romania in Olympic history.

The bronze went to Steve Johnson and Jack Sock of the United States. They beat the Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4 earlier Friday.

It was another busy day for Nadal, who won his singles quarterfinal in three sets earlier Friday.

Nadal does not play doubles often on tour, focusing on a singles career that has included stints at No. 1 in the rankings and a record nine French Open titles.

Of his nine previous doubles championships, four came with Lopez as his partner, although they hadn’t played even one match together this year until arriving in Brazil.

Lopez won his first Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open in June, pairing with Feliciano Lopez to beat American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in that final.

López Defeats Robin Haase to Claim Swiss Open Title

Feliciano López is a Swiss champion…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis player beat Robin Haase 6-4, 7-5 in the Swiss Open final on Sunday to claim his first career clay-court title.

Feliciano López

It’s the fifth career ATP World Tour title for Lopez, the tournament’s top seed, and his first in more than two years. He previously won two titles on grass and two on hard courts.

Ten years after losing the Gstaad final to Richard Gasquet of France, Lopez lifted the trophy on his seventh trip to the Swiss Alps venue.

Lopez arrived ranked No. 21 in the world and should return to the top 20 when the rankings are updated on Monday.

The 95th-ranked Haase had his service broken once in the first set and twice in the second as Lopez completed the victory in less than 80 minutes.

 

Marc Lopez & Feliciano Lopez Win Their First-Ever Grand Slam Doubles Title at the French Open

The third time’s the charm for Marc López

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis player and his compatriot Feliciano Lopez won the French Open on Saturday for their first Grand Slam doubles title, denying Bob and Mike Bryan a 17th major trophy.

Marc Lopez & Felciano Lopez

It was Marc Lopez’s third Grand Slam final appearance, having finished runner-up at Roland Garros and at the US Open two years ago alongside Marcel Granollers. It was Feliciano Lopez’s first Grand Slam doubles final.

The duo became the first Spanish pair to win at Roland Garros in 26 years with a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory over their American rivals.

Marc Lopez & Felciano Lopez

The No. 15 seeds played together only once before at a major tournament and had to struggle to get to the final.

They saved six match points in their quarterfinal win over 2014 champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. They went to three sets before downing defending champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the semifinals.

The Bryans, the most successful pairing of all time, were seeking a third title on the red clay following victories in 2003 and 2013.

“The tough thing about us is that if we don’t leave with the big trophy it’s devastating,” Bob Bryan said. “We have high standards, and sometimes that makes it not fun, because we can’t get any kind of enjoyment out of a final or semi like maybe some other players.

“You know, that’s the burden that we carry. We’re feeling that pain right now. We don’t take any solace out of leaving with the square plate.”

Feliciano Lopez sealed the Spaniards’ win with an ace, and both partners fell on their backs in jubilation.

“You can’t imagine what it means to win a Grand Slam for the first time, against the best players in the sport,” Feliciano Lopez said.

The fifth-seeded Bryans saved a match point in the tiebreaker before evening it 1-1 in sets, but their rivals returned better in the decider and converted two of three break points.

“Winning a Grand Slam is something amazing, and I didn’t have a Grand Slam victory on my résumé,” Marc Lopez said. “Roland Garros is my favorite tournament. It has been the case for quite a long time. When I was a kid, I was watching the matches of great champions, the Spanish champions.”

The previous Spanish doubles team to win the French Open was Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez in 1990.

López Reaches First Grand Slam Final Ever in French Open Men’s Doubles

Feliciano López has reached his first Grand Slam final…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis player and his compatriot Marc López defeated defending champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 on Friday to reach their first French Open final as a team.

Marc Lopez & Feliciano Lopez

Dodig and Melo saved two match points serving at 4-5 in the deciding set, but succumbed two games later.

It will be Marc Lopez’s third Grand Slam final appearance, having finished runner-up at Roland Garros and at the US Open two years ago alongside Marcel Granollers.

Feliciano Lopez is into his first Grand Slam final since finishing runner-up at the 1998 Roland Garros junior doubles tournament.

Lopez/Lopez are aiming to become the first all-Spanish team to win the Roland Garros doubles title since Sergio Casal/Emilio Sanchez in 1990.

They saved six match points in their quarterfinal win over 2014 champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The Spaniards will face Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who raced to the finish in a 7-5, 6-1 semifinal win against Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya.