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.

Alex de Minaur Defeats Kei Nishikori at US Open to Reach Fourth Round at a Grand Slam for First Time

It’s a major first for Alex de Minaur

The 20-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian tennis player upset No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori to book his spot in the fourth round at the US Open.

Alex de Minaur

de Minaur, currently ranked No. 36 in the world, moved into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career, advancing to the Round of 16 at Flushing Meadows with the 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win. 

The victory carries extra significance for de Minaur, who snapped an 0-11 record against Top 10 opponents. He defeated Nishikori in two hours and 48 minutes.

“The crowd support was amazing,” De Minaur, who claimed his maiden ATP Tour title at the Sydney International in January, said after the match. “I had a bit of a thrill last year against [Marin] Cilic. Was two-sets-to-love up again and I’m glad I could finally get the win.”

In search of a second straight appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, de Minaur is looking to build on his third-place standing in the ATP Race To Milan

He’ll next face Grigor Dimitrovon Sunday.

de Minaur had previously reached the third round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Roberto Bautista Agut Defeats Kei Nishikori to Reach Fourth Round at Wimbledon

Roberto Bautista Agut has pulled off an upset…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis player, seeded No. 18, beat ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan in the third round 6-4, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.

Roberto Bautista Agut

This was their fifth match against each other on tour — and the first won by Bautista Agut.

“I couldn’t maintain my level high enough,” Nishikori said. “I think he served well every set. Was really tough time (on) my return game.”

Bautista Agut reached the fourth round at the All England Club for the second time, having reached it in 2015. He reached the third round last year. But he has never reached the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament, losing all eight previous times he got to the round of 16 at majors — the most losses without a win by any man during the Open Era, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Bautista Agut’s next opponent is No. 7 seed Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion who advanced by beating No. 26 seed Steve Johnson of the United States, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

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.”

Bellucci Upsets No. 1 Seed Kei Nishikori in First Round at Rio Open

Thomaz Bellucci has started his home country tournament with a bang…

The 29-year-old Brazilian tennis player, ranked No. 75 in the world, defeated Kei Nishikori on Tuesday in straight sets.

Thomaz Bellucci

Bellucci upset the top seed in the first round of the Rio de Janeiro Open (Rio Open) 6-4, 6-3.

“It could be the worst match in the last few years,” Nishikori said.

Bellucci, the home country favorite pulled the huge upset during Carnival week in Brazil.

“You don’t see Kei break the racket often,” Bellucci said of Nishikori, who smashed his racket after losing the first set.

Bellucci had lost his previous two matches against Nishikori, including a three-set loss two years ago in the first round of the French Open.

“For me it’s amazing to have a victory like this in Brazil,” Bellucci said. “He’s an unbelievable player. A top five. So it was amazing.”

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 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.

Ferrer Defeats Steve Johnson to Win Austrian Open Title

David Ferrer is one step closer to earning a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis player strengthened his hand in the race to the end-of-year finals after winning the Austrian Open with a fighting 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of American Steve Johnson.

David Ferrer  

Ferrer, who joins Roger Federer with five titles this year – the pair are second behind Novak Djokovic on nine – now stands in solid contention for one of the two remaining places in the eight-man field for the World Tour Finals starting on November 15.

Ferrer joins Kei Nishikori in joint seventh in the race for the eight-man World Tour Finals in London from November 15-22.

Ferrer claimed the 26th trophy of his career as he defeated Johnson, who was playing in his first final.

Ferrer set up three match points in the third set with his seventh ace after a break in the previous game and converted on his first opportunity.

Ferrer lost the final a year ago at the Stadthalle to Andy Murray.

The last Spaniard to win in Vienna was Feliciano Lopez in 2004.

Lopez Upsets Kei Nishikori to Reach BNP Paribas Open Quarterfinals

Feliciano Lopez has pulled off the upset…

The 33-year-old Spanish tenista took down No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori in straight sets to to reach the quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday.

Feliciano Lopez

Lopez pulled ahead in the first set, and then survived a hard-fought second set to win 6-4, 7-6 (2).

“I really had one bad game at 5-4,” Nishikori said. “Until then I was playing better. I was dominating the strokes. He was hitting good serves, but I had all the chances.”

Lopez reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells for the first time in 13 tries. Lopez has previously been stretched to three sets in his first two matches.

He next faces Any Murray in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Gilles Simon to stay on track for a shot at his fourth career title in the desert.

Nadal next plays sixth-seeded Milos Raonic, who defeated 17th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2 in a fourth-round match.

Nadal served a love game to close out his match that began as a dust storm swirled outside the stadium under overcast skies. He connected on 70 percent of his first serves in beating Simon for the seventh time in eight meetings.

Ferrer Defeats Kei Nishikori to Claim His Fourth Mexico Open Title

David Ferrer is El Rey in Mexico…

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player won his fourth Mexico Open title over the weekend, beating top-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 7-5 in the hard-court event.

David Ferrer

It’s the third title for Ferrer in 2015. He previously won in Doha in January and in Rio de Janeiro earlier in February.

He won his previous Mexico titles — in 2010, 2011 and 2012 — on clay.

“Tonight I played my best match this week,” said Ferrer. “For sure. I played very aggressive, without mistakes. I’m very happy. To win here a fourth time is a dream.

“I tried to play my forehand to his forehand and with more energy. In important moments, he made more mistakes and I took my chances. I feel very confident with my tennis now. I’ve won three tournaments this year and we’ve only began the season.”

As champion, the 24-time ATP World Tour titlist received $343,000 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Ranking points.

Nishikori won in Memphis, Tennessee, two weeks ago for his eighth tour title. He lost to Marin Cilic last year in the U.S. Open final.