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.

Nadal Defeats Gael Monfils at the Australian Open to Reach His 30th Career Grand Slam Quarterfinal

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to a real comeback…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star and former World No. 1, who hasn’t won a Grand Slam since taking the French Open title in 2014, defeated sixth-seeded Gael Monfils in four sets on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the 30th time.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s victory is even prompting talk of a possible Australian Open final against Roger Federer.

With No. 1-ranked Andy Murray and No. 2 Novak Djokovic — the two most consistent performers in the past six years at Melbourne Park — upset in the first week, Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, Nadal’s next opponent, is the highest-ranked player left in the draw.

He advanced to the last eight here for the third straight year with a 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut.

Nadal, seeded No. 9 at this tournament, is the only major winner still in contention on the bottom half of the draw, although he hasn’t added to his tally of 14 majors since the capturing the French Open in 2014.

Federer, in the top half of the draw, plays Mischa Zverev on Tuesday, and would have to beat him and either Stan Wawrinka or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — the other quarterfinalists playing Tuesday — to advance to the final.

Nadal’s 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over US Open semifinalist Monfils in the fourth round was his first over a top-10 player at a Grand Slam since that run to his last title at Roland Garros. It also ended a four-match losing streak against top-10 players.

“Being in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam after couple of years not being there is very special for me,” said Nadal, who last progressed this far at the 2015 French Open.

It also showed that after a couple of months off to rest his injured left wrist, he is still a contender at the majors. He hasn’t won an Australian title since 2009.

He went up a break early in the first two sets, had his chances in the third before Monfils rallied, and then traded breaks in the fourth before breaking the acrobatic Frenchman to win. Overall, he converted six of 17 break point chances.

Nadal to Face Kei Nishikori in the Barcelona Open Final

Rafael Nadal is one win away from back-to-back titles…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star will face Kei Nishikori in the Barcelona Open final after both past champions won their semifinals in straight sets on Saturday.

Rafael Nadal  

Nadal fought off Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3 to return to his first final here since 2013, when he won the tournament a record eighth time.

Last weekend, Nadal defeated Gael Monfils to claim a ninth title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nishikori, the two-time defending champion, beat Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-2 earlier on the outdoor clay court.

Nadal holds an 8-1 win-loss record against Nishikori, but expects a tough final.

“I will have to play my best,” he said.

The top-seeded Nadal eased past Kohlschreiber, breaking his serve three times and saving the only break chance he conceded to the German. The home favorite sealed the win when Kohlschreiber hit his return long.

Nadal Oulasts Gael Monfils to Win the Monte Carlo Masters

Rafael Nadal is back in the Masters winner’s circle…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star matched his Roland Garros haul to claim a ninth title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal wore down a stubborn Gael Monfils over two punishing sets before steamrollering his opponent in the decider to win 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 in two hours and 46 minutes.

With victory, Nadal — who won eight consecutive Monte Carlo crowns between 2005 and 2012 — equalled Novak Djokovic‘s record of 28 Masters titles.

“This has been one of the most special places in my career,” said Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion. “It’s just a pleasure to be back here in a final playing in front of you at this amazing club.

“It has been a very special week for me, winning here in Monte Carlo. What really makes it even more special is the fantastic crowd. Many thanks to everybody here.”

Since his last Masters triumph at Madrid in 2014, Nadal has struggled for form and saw his ranking plummet to 10th last year — his lowest since he was a teenager in August 2005.

This victory will have tasted sweet for the world No.5, and will send out a warning that the King of Clay may be back just in time for the French Open, having racked up his 48th title on the surface.

Nadal Outlasts Gael Monfils to Win the Qatar Open

Rafael Nadal has earned his first singles title at the Qatar Open… and the first time he’s won his opening tournament of the year.

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, currently ranked No. 1 in the word, survived a second-set slip up to defeat France’s Gael Monfils 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to win the tournament in Doha.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal was in inspired form in the opening set, winning it in just 23 minutes.

But although Monfils led 3-0 in the second set, Nadal fought back before the Frenchman edged him in the tie-break.

Monfils was then broken at 1-2 in the decider and Nadal held on to win his 61st career title.

Nadal, who had struggled at times in some of his matches this week, was well on top in the first set as Monfils looked shell-shocked.

However, the Frenchman, who had looked the better player on his way to the final, upped his game from the start of the second set with some powerful groundstrokes but saw his advantage disappear as Nadal regained his composure to get back into the match.

But in the tie-break, a misplaced lob by Nadal gave Monfils a 4-2 advantage and he held on to that lead to force a decider.

After the excitement of the second set, the third set failed to live up to expectations and a Monfils error, when a forehand went long, put Nadal 3-1 up.

Nadal saved four break points in the next game and from then on he did enough to win the title and give him the perfect boost ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, January 13.

Nadal Survives Test to Reach the Qatar Open Final

Rafael Nadal could be called the “Comeback King”…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star reached the final of the Qatar Open on Friday after storming back from one set down to beat German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal

“I’m in the final,” Nadal said. “That (will) probably give me a little bit more confidence, a little bit more rhythm.”

Nadal lost the first three games against the 162nd-ranked Gojowczyk but came back to level the first set before losing serve again in the 10th game.

The top-ranked Spaniard then raced to a 4-1 lead in the second and broke Gojowczyk’s in the third game of the decider after two forehand errors by the German.

“We’ll see if I am able to make (changes) tomorrow to play a little bit better,” Nadal said.

Nadal, who is trying to earn first title in Doha, will now face Gael Monfils of France, who beat Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The 31st-ranked Monfils hasn’t dropped a set all week but has only beat Nadal twice in 10 previous meetings. However, both those victories came here in Doha — in the 2009 quarterfinals and the 2012 semifinals.

This will be Monfils’ third appearance in the Doha final — he lost to Roger Federer in 2006 and to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2012.

“It means a lot to be in the final again,” Monfils said. “I have one match to go. I’ll be ready for it.”

Nadal Defeats Ernests Gulbis to Reach Qatar Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal is the last seed standing in the Middle East…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, the top seed at the Qatar Open, beat seventh-seeded Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Thursday to earn the distinction as the tournament’s last remaining seed.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, who is often tested by the 24th-ranked Gulbis, has yet to lose a match to the Latvian in seven played.

This rain-delayed match marked only the second time Nadal has defeated Gulbis in straight sets. The other time was also in Doha, in the 2011 quarterfinals.

Nadal finally broke Gulbis in the 11th game when the latter sent a drop shot wide. Nadal needed five set points to close out the first set in the next game.

Gulbis raced to 3-0 in the second set but couldn’t hold on to the advantage. He had three points for 4-1 but ended up losing serve.

Nadal broke with a stunning backhand cross-court that creased the line in the seventh game to take a permanent lead. He closed the match with a breathtaking backhand volley winner.

“I’m happy to win against Ernests,” Nadal said. “If you are not playing well it’s very, very difficult. He’s able to hit winners from every part on the court.”

Nadal is set to play German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. The 162nd-ranked Gojowczyk defeated fellow German qualifier Dustin Brown 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) to reach his first career tour semifinal.

Before this week, Gojowczyk had only one ATP tour-level match win, at the 2013 US Open.

The other semi will pit Florian Mayer of Germany against Gael Monfils of France.

Montañés Defeated Gael Monfils for His Sixth Career Title

Albert Montañés is having a Nice weekend…

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated French wild-card entry Gael Monfils 6-0, 7-6 (3) in the final of the Nice Open on Saturday to clinch the sixth title of his career.

Albert Montañés

The match was interrupted by rain at 4-0 in the first set, but that didn’t seem to bother Montañés, who broke for a 3-1 lead in the second as he looked to cruise to victory in style.

Monfils, a former top-10 player whose 2012 season was hampered by a right knee injury, rallied to tie it at 4-4.

Montañés took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker and sealed the win when a backhand from Monfils sailed long.

The Nice Open is considered a warm-up tournament for the French Open.

Verdasco Upsets Nadal at the Madrid Open

Fernando Verdasco has scored a massive upset at the Madrid Open

The 28-year-old tennis star—currently ranked No. 19 in the world—defeated his fellow countryman and the world’s No. 2 player Rafael Nadal, considered the King of Clay, 6-3, 3-6. 7-5.

Fernando Verdasco

After overcoming a first-set loss on the Open’s controversial blue-clay court, Nadal evened the score and appeared set to move on to the quarterfinals. But Verdasco took charge of the match to notch his first win over Nadal in 14 tries and handing his Davis Cup teammate his first defeat on clay in 23 matches.

“After losing so many times against honestly the best player on clay ever, to beat him on clay is the maximum,” an emotional Verdasco said after his exhausting match. “I don’t have words.”

Fernando Verdasco

Nadal—who notched his seventh consecutive title at the Barcelona Open last weekend—didn’t hide his dislike of the new blue clay at the Madrid Open this week, calling it soft and slippery.

Verdasco moves on to next play Tomas Berdych after the Czech beat Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-1.