Rafael Nadal Slated to Compete at the Western & Southern Open

It looks like Rafael Nadal is returning to the court…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star and defending US Open champion appears on the acceptance list for the Western & Southern Open, which was released Wednesday, alongside world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal

While Nadal and Djokovic’s appearance on the list doesn’t guarantee that they’ll end up competing in the top-tier Masters 1000 event starting August 20, the list does suggest that 16 of the ATP‘s top 20 players are prepared to participate in the reboot of the tour.

The Western & Southern, moved from its longtime home in Cincinnati, and the US Open comprise a two-tournament event that the USTA is planning to stage in a “safety bubble” being created around the National Tennis Center.

Players who choose not to play after they’ve appeared on the acceptance list are subject to the penalty of having a “zero-pointer” added to their rankings record, meaning that they are treated as if they had taken a first-round loss. The sting of that punitive measure has been greatly decreased by the ATP’s pandemic-driven move to a ranking based on a 22-month cycle rather than 12 months.

The rankings, frozen since the tour was suspended in mid-March, will resume with the Western & Southern. Since two editions of the event will be played during the new rankings cycle, only a player’s best result will count toward his ranking. A player who pulls out of Cincinnati can wipe out the zero-pointer at the 2021 tournament. The same goes for the US Open.

Djokovic, who tested positive for the coronavirus following the collapse of his own Adria Tour exhibition series in June, raised a number of objections when the USTA announced plans to forge ahead with a US Open played under the strict health protocols demanded by the COVID-19 outbreak. His stance has softened considerably since, and he has been observed practicing on hard courts for more than a week now.

“We are very glad that [the US Open] is happening,” Djokovic recently told Eurosport‘s Tennis Legends podcast. “It is very important that we provide opportunities, we provide jobs, for players to compete.”

Nadal is a greater question mark. He has said he is “not OK” with the USTA’s insistence that the American Grand Slam take place without fans in attendance. 

The 12-time French Open champion has been practicing, but only on red clay. This year’s French Open will limit attendance when it starts Sept. 27.

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.

Garbine Muguruza Defeats Simona Halep to Reach First Australian Open Final

Garbine Muguruzais one win away from her third Grand Slamtitle…

In a battle of former World No. 1 players, the 26-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis playerbeat No. 4 seed Simona Halepin straight sets on Thursday to reach the Australian Openfinal for the first time.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza’s 7-6 (8), 7-5 victory sends her to the title match against 14th-seeded Sofia Keninof the United States. Kenin beat No. 1 Ash Barty7-6 (6), 7-5.

Muguruza, unseeded at Melbourne Park, fended off four set points in the opener of her semifinal and wound up defeating Halep in a matchup of players who’ve won Wimbledonand the French Openbut not the Australian Open.

It was a streaky contest: Muguruza led 5-3 in the first set before Halep took 15 of 17 points to earn a pair of set points. Muguruza then took seven consecutive points. And so on, until Halep put a shot in the net to relinquish that set, then smashed her racket and sat on the sideline, shaking her head.

“I wasn’t thinking I was down,” Muguruza said. “You keep going.”Muguruza may have won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, but she came to Melbourne Park as an unseeded player at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in six years.

Garbine Muguruza Reaches First-Ever Australian Open Semifinals

Garbine Muguruzais back in a Grand Slamsemifinal…

The 26-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player and former world No. 1 defeated No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3 to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, took a little more than 1 1/2 hours to eliminate Pavlyuchenkova, with both players struggling with their serves with the sun shining brightly at one end. 

It’s Muruguza’s first spot in a Grand Slamsemifinal since Roland Garrosin ’18.

After struggling for form following her 2017 Wimbledontriumph, Muguruza has looked like a player reborn at Melbourne Parksince reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez.

Last November, Muguruza climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and got away from it all. She didn’t want to dwell on two relatively barren seasons since her Wimbledon win in 2017.

Her time on the mountain was “definitely was a life-changing experience,” Murgurza said, although she couldn’t explain how because it’s too complicated in a tournament environment.

“But it definitely had an impact on me, not as a tennis player, but just in general,” she said. “Being through such a tough challenge, I think, yeah, did many things inside of me.”

She’ll next face Simona Halep, both have already won at Wimbledon and the French Openand have been ranked No. 1, and are bidding for their first Grand Slam title on a hard court.

Conchita Martinez Elected to International Tennis Hall of Fame

Conchita Martinezhas earned her placed among tennis’ greats…

The 47-year-old Spanish former professional tennis player has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Conchita Martinez



The Class of 2020 was announced Tuesday at the Australian Open, where Martinez and fellow honoree Goran Ivanisevic are coaching players who reached the quarterfinals.

Martinez, a baseliner, was the first Spanish player to win the women’s singles title at Wimbledon, where she beat Martina Navratilovain the 1994 final. 

Martínez was also the singles runner-up at the 1998 Australian Open and the 2000 French Open. She reached a highest world ranking of No. 2 in October 1995 and finished the season in the Top 10 for nine years. Martínez won 33 singles and 13 doubles titles during her 18-year career, as well as three Olympic medals.

The induction ceremony will be July 18 in Newport, Rhode Island, where the Hall is located.

Ivanisevic helps coach Novak Djokovic, while Martinez works with Garbine Muguruza.

Rafael Nadal Outlasts Daniil Medvedev to Win U.S. Open & Claim 19th Grand Slam Title

Rafael Nadalis back in the winner’s circle at the US Open

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star survived a late surge from Daniil Medvedev to win the men’s title at Flushing Meadows and earn his 19th Grand Slam trophy.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s latest Grand Slam went from inevitable to suddenly in doubt in a thrill-a-minute final.

What had all the makings of a crowning morphed into a real contest Sunday thanks to Medvedev, a man a decade younger and appearing in his first major title match. Down by two sets and a break, Medvedev shifted styles, upped his level against a rattled Nadal — and even received an unexpected boost from Arthur Ashe Stadium spectators.

Truly tested for the only time in the tournament, the No. 2-seeded Nadal managed to stop Medvedev’s surge and hold off his historic comeback bid, pulling out a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory in 4 hours, 50 minutes of highlight-worthy action and Broadway-worthy drama to collect his fourth championship at Flushing Meadows.

“An amazing final. Seems that I had, more or less, the match under control,” said Nadal, who covered his face with his hands while crying when arena video boards showed clips from each of his Slam triumphs. “One of the most emotional nights of my tennis career.”

Now at 19 majors — a total Medvedev called “outrageous” — Nadal is merely one away from rival Roger Federer‘s record for a man.

Add the Spaniard’s haul in New York to his 12 titles at the French Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open, and the 20-19 gap between Federer and Nadal is the closest it’s been in 15 years. Federer led 1-0 after his breakthrough triumph at the All England Clubin 2004, and he had four by the time Nadal got his first, at Roland Garrosin 2005.

Federer, who lost in the quarterfinals at the US Open, is 38, while Nadal is 33 — making him the oldest male champion at Flushing Meadows since 1970. He’s also the first man to win five majors after turning 30.

Nadal says he wants to finish his career at No. 1 in the Grand Slam standings — ahead of Federer and Novak Djokovic, in third place currently with 16 — but also insists he won’t base his happiness on how it all shakes out in the end.

This particular match ended the way he wanted it to. The journey just took more detours 

Diego Schwartzman Defeats Alexander Zverev to Reach Quarterfinals at the US Open

Diego Schwartzman has pulled out a major upset at the US Open…

The 27-year-old Argentine professional tennis player defeated No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev at Flushing Meadows 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals at the Grand Slam event for the second time.

Diego Schwartzman

Zverev doubled-faulted 17 times in the losing effort, and he ended up losing his serve eight times, won just 32% of second-serve points and amassed 65 unforced errors. He also was hit with a point penalty for swearing in the final set to put Schwartzman up 5-2.

“My first serve is still fine. My second serve needs to be worked on,” Zverev said. “But I’ll deal with it.”

The 20th-seeded Schwartzman, meanwhile, went about his steady baseline and retrieving game, taking the majority of long rallies in a match when some points went on for as many as 35 strokes.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarterfinals at the French Openlast year and at Flushing Meadows in 2017, next takes Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal Claims 5th Rogers Cup Title

Rafael Nadal’s Cup runneth over…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star claimed his fifth Rogers Cup title after beating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 on in just 70 minutes Sunday at breezy IGA Stadium.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal won the event for the third time in Montreal. The first came in 2005 at age 19 over Andre Agassi, and the second in 2013. Nadal won in Toronto in 2008 and 2018.

“I played a solid match, my best match of the week so far without a doubt,” Nadal said. “I did a lot of things well — changing directions, changing rhythms.”

The second-rankedtenistawon his 83rd singles title and third of the year, following clay victories in Rome and at the French Open. He extended his tour record for Masters 1000titles to 35, two more than top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

“He was playing very well during the whole week. So for me, it was important in the beginning that he doesn’t take advantage, because finals are always a little bit more difficult for everyone,” Nadal said. “I’ve played a lot of these. I know beginnings can be tricky, especially against a great player like him, but especially when a player like him is playing with a lot of confidence like he was playing during the whole week.”

Medvedev, from Russia, was seeded eighth. The match was his first against Nadal.

“I knew how it’s going to be,” Medvedev said. “I was kind of ready for it. Then didn’t manage to probably show my best tennis, but at the same time, Rafa was incredible today. I need to see the match on the TV to say for sure, but congrats to him. I need to do better next time.”

Nadal had a walkover in the semifinals Saturday when Gael Monfilswithdrew because of an ankle injury.

Conchita Martínez Among International Tennis Hall of Fame Nominees

Conchita Martínez may be earning a spot in the Tennis Hall of Fame.

The 46-year-old Spanish former tennis player, the first Spanish player to win the women’s singles title at Wimbledon, has landed on the eight-player ballot for next year’s induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Conchita Martínez 

Martínez is eligible for enshrinement in the player category next year, as announced by the ITHOF.

“This is an exciting year for the International Tennis Hall of Fame election process, with a broad-ranging group of candidates and our first ever Fan Vote. The eight candidates on the ballot come from seven nations, and have achieved tremendous results on tennis’ biggest stages – winning Grand Slam titles and Olympic medals, and topping the world rankings,” stated ITHF President Stan Smith, who also serves as Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.

“They’ve also each had massive impact on the sport in their home nations as trailblazers, Olympic and Fed and Davis Cup Champions, first-time Slam winners from their countries, and great ambassadors for tennis. Each has done much for the sport and I hope we’ll see their many fans turn out to vote online to support their Hall of Fame candidacy.”

In a 15-year career on the WTA Tour, Martínez won 33 singles titles and 13 doubles titles. She was the 1994 Wimbledon champion, defeating nine-time champion Martina Navratilova in the final.

She was also a finalist at the Australian Open and French Open.

Martínez reached a career high of world No. 2 and spent 190 weeks ranked inside the world’s Top 5. In addition, she was a key member of five championship Fed Cup teams and a three-time Olympic medalist in doubles.

But Martinez isn’t the only Latin player on the ballot…

Sergi Bruguera is one of the men to make the cut.

The 47-year-old Spanish former tennis player won consecutive men’s singles titles at the French Open in 1993 and 1994, a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in men’s singles and reached a career-high ranking of 3 in August 1994.

Bruguera has been selected to captain the Spain Davis Cup team in 2018

Candidates on the ballot for International Tennis Hall of Fame induction are selected from nominations submitted by the general public and tennis community. The ITHF Enshrinee Nominating Committee, which meets annually in June, then reviews all nominations and determines the ballot. The committee is comprised of 23 individuals from around the world with expertise in various areas of the sport.

The ITHF Voting Group, which consists of tennis media and Hall of Famers, then casts their votes. To be inducted, an affirmative vote of 75 percent of returned ballots is required. Votes are tallied by an independent accounting firm.

New for 2019, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has introduced a fan vote component to the process. From Aug. 27 through Oct. 7, fans around the world are able to participate in the Hall of Fame election process by voting online at vote.tennisfame.com. The top three vote getters in the Fan Vote will receive bonus percentage points added onto their result from the committee to determine their ultimate final result.

The candidate with the highest result in the Fan Vote will receive three additional percentage points, while second and third places will receive two and one additional percentage points respectively.

The results of fan voting will be announced at the conclusion of the voting period in early October. The overall results and the complete Class of 2019 will be announced in January at the Australian Open. The 2019 Induction Ceremony will be hosted on July 20, 2019.

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.