Rafael Nadal to Face Pablo Carreno Busta in His Return to ATP Tour at the Italian Open

Rafael Nadal is heading back to competitive tennis play…

The 34-year-old tennis star will make his return to the ATP Tour against US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta at the Italian Open in Rome.

Rafael Nadal

In his first appearance since the ATP Tour suspension in March, the nine-time titlist will need to be at the top of his game when he meets his countryman for the sixth time in their head-to-head series (Nadal leads 5-0).

Carreno Busta has made a strong return to the ATP Tour, reaching his second US Open semi-final earlier this week. The Spaniard also lifted his maiden doubles trophy at the Western & Southern Open last month.

Nadal and Carreno Busta most recently met in the third round of this year’s Australian Open, with Nadal winning in straight sets. If he gets past Carreno Busta, he could meet Western & Southern Open finalist Milos Raonic in the third round. Nadal shares the bottom quarter of the draw with eighth seed Diego Schwartzman and US Open quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev.

The five-time year-end World No. 1 enters Rome with a 13-3 record this year. At his most recent event in February, Nadal did not drop a set en route to his 85th tour-level trophy at the Acapulco Open in Mexico.

Chasing his 10th title at the Foro Italico, the Spaniard will look to add to his 61-6 record at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Nadal is currently on a 10-match winning streak in Rome, having won the past two editions of the tournament. The 35-time ATP Masters 1000 winner won three-set battles against Alexander Zverev in the 2018 championship match and Novak Djokovic in last year’s final.

If Nadal triumphs for the third straight year in Rome, he will capture a 10th trophy at a single event for the fourth time in his career. He owns 12 French Open trophies and has won 11 crowns at both the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona OpenRoger Federer is the only other player to have reached double digits at a single ATP Tour event in the Open Era. He owns 10 trophies at the Noventi Open in Halle and the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Alex de Minaur & Pablo Carreno Busta Claim Western & Southern Open Men’s Doubles Title in Team Debut

It’s a debut to remember for Alex de Minaur and Pablo Carreno Busta

The 21-year-old Uruguayan/Spanish-Australian tennis player and his 29-year-old Spanish doubles partner completed their team debut week by lifting the Western & Southern Open title on Saturday.

Alex de Minaur & Pablo Carreno Busta

After breaking serve at 5-5 in the second set, rain forced the unseeded duo to wait until the conclusion of the singles final to complete a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

De Minaur and Carreno Busta, who trailed 0-4 in the second set, held their nerves to hold serve on the deciding point and claim their maiden ATP Tour doubles trophies after 83 minutes.

Carreno Busta was competing in his fourth tour-level doubles final, while de Minaur was making his debut in an ATP Tour doubles championship match.

Alex de Minaur & Pablo Carreno Busta

“It was a good week for us,” said Carreno Busta. “We lost in the singles and we just tried to continue to play matches. It is important for us to get rhythm, to get confidence and I think the doubles, on this occasion, was good for this.

“We didn’t expect to arrive to a final and win the tournament, but we played the last matches better than the first ones.”

de Minaur and Carreno Busta have impressed from their first match at the ATP Masters 1000 event. The team upset defending champions Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the first round and also beat eighth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic en route to the championship match.

“It is a great feeling [to be back on the ATP Tour]. I am very happy to be back on court and hopefully this week in doubles can give me some confidence and momentum going into next week,” said de Minaur.

Murray and Skupski were also attempting to capture their first ATP Tour doubles trophy as a team. The Brits began their partnership by winning the Arizona Tennis Classic — an ATP Challenger Tour event — in March 2019.

After four service holds to open the final, de Minaur and Carreno Busta played the better tennis in crucial moments to earn four consecutive games and the first set. Carreno Busta flicked a pinpoint lob over Skupski’s head to reach deciding point at 2-2 and the Brit volleyed beyond the baseline to concede the break. de Minaur and Carreno Busta capitalized on Skupski double faults to gain a second break, before clinching the set after 30 minutes with a de Minaur service hold.

Murray and Skupski responded quickly in the second set, extracting multiple errors from Carreno Busta’s backhand and showcasing quick reactions at the net to earn a 4-0 lead. But Carreno Busta and de Minaur charged back and earned their third break of the set at 5-5 when Skupski fired long with a backhand approach shot. After an extended rain delay and a court switch to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the debut team captured the trophy on deciding point when Carreno Busta landed a forehand volley winner.

Carreno Busta and de Minaur earn 1000 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and share $80,000 in prize money. Murray and Skupski earn 600 points and split $68,000.

Roberto Bautista Agut Outlasts Defending Champion Daniil Medvedev to reach Semifinals at the Western & Southern Open

Roberto Bautista Agut has pulled off a big upset…

The 32-year-old Spanish professional tennis player knocked out defending champion Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Medvedev failed to close it out in the second set, and Bautista Agut rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory that eliminated yet another top player from the tuneup tournament for the US Open. Djokovic is the only player left in the tournament with an ATP Masters 1000 title to his credit.

Medvedev led 4-3 in the second before letting it slip away. He converted only five of 20 break points in the match and swatted his racket against the court in frustration at the end.

“Even in the third set I had my chances and didn’t take them,” Medvedev said.

Bautista Agut reached his third ATP Masters semifinal and his first since 2016. He needed a set to adjust to the breezy, cooler conditions on court.

“It’s never easy to come back and play good at first,” he said. “I have to be patient, to try to enjoy every single match I play here after six months without competing. Just pleased and happy to be in the semifinals.”

Medvedev hoisted the champion’s Rookwood Pottery cup last year in Mason, Ohio, where the tournament is held annually. This year’s event was moved to the US Open site in Flushing Meadows because of coronavirus pandemic precautions, creating a two-tournament event without spectators.

He’ll next face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

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.

Cristian Garin Reaches First Masters 1000 Quarterfinals at the Paris Masters

It’s a special win for Cristian Garin

The 23-year-old Chilean tennis player has reached his first quarterfinals at a Masters 1000 event after defeating France’s Jeremy Chardy at the Paris Masters.

Cristian Garin

Garin won 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (6) after a match that lasted two hours and 27 minutes and facing three match points against him.

With the victory, Garin became the first Chilean tennis player to reach the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 since Fernando González, in Rome 2009.

He’ll next face Grigor Dimitrov.

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.

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.

Juan Martin del Potro Breaks Roger Federer’s 17-Match Win Streak to Win BNP Paribas Open Title

Juan Martin del Potro has taken down a living legend for his first ATP Masters 1000 title…

The The 29-year-old Argentine tennis player  has ended World No. 1 Roger Federer‘s 17-match win streak to claim the BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro beat Federer 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-2) in a thrilling final.

Federer had been searching for a record sixth title in California, but it was del Potro who powered to his first ATP Masters 1000 title.

He’s the first player to beat Federer in 2018.

del Potro saved three match points before closing out victory in two hours 42 minutes.

del Potro has been hampered by wrist problems in recent years and has had three operations which left him struggling to use his backhand.

But he has made a strong start to 2018, winning his first ATP 500 title for five years at Acapulco earlier in March and returning to the world’s top 10.

del Potro claimed a stunning four-set win over Federer at the US Open in September last year, but Federer won their last meeting in Basel a month later.

del Potro forced the only break of the first set and made just three unforced errors to Federer’s 11 as he closed out the first set in 39 minutes.

“It’s difficult to describe with words. It’s like a dream,” Del Potro said. “After all my problems, after all my surgeries, I couldn’t believe I’m here winning a Masters 1000 and beating Roger. It’s amazing.”

Nadal Makes History with 10th Title at the Monte Carlo Masters

It’s a perfect and historic 10 for Rafael Nadal

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star easily defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3 in an all-Spanish final at the Monte Carlo Masters to become the first men’s tennis player in the Open era to win the same title 10 times.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, who showed Sunday he’s likely the best ever on clay, won his 50th career title on his favored surface, moving him one clear of Argentine Guillermo Vilas.

The next big challenge for Nadal will be winning a 10th French Open title. The last of his 14 Grand Slams was three years ago in Roland Garros.

“I want,” Nadal said after Sunday’s game, a smile breaking across his face. “I really want it, too.”

It was Nadal’s 70th career title but his first of the season, having lost his previous three finals — two of those to Roger Federer.

The only final Nadal has lost at Monte Carlo was to Novak Djokovic in 2013.

“Winning 10 times in such an important event like Monte Carlo is something difficult to describe,” Nadal said. “My serve worked great. I have been hitting very well on backhand during the whole week. The forehand is better and better every day.”

Ramos-Vinolas wasn’t a threat to the defending champion.

Appearing in his first Masters final, the 15th-seeded Ramos-Vinolas saved three break points in his first service game and was 0-40 down in his next. Nadal served out the set in 30 minutes with an ace.

“He was a little bit better in everything. When he’s a little bit better in everything, the difference is what we saw,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “Last time I played against him, I felt that on [his serve] it was my chance to put some pressure. But today I felt that he was serving so good.”

Nadal’s 29th Masters title moves him one behind Djokovic’s record. He will also have his sights set on a 10th title in Barcelona next week — Nadal’s previous career title was there, almost one year ago.

Since then, Federer has beaten him in finals at the Australian Open and the Miami Masters, on either side of Nadal’s loss to big-serving American Sam Querrey in the final at Acapulco, Mexico. Federer also beat Nadal in the fourth round at Indian Wells.

“[This title] arrives in just the right moment, I believe,” Nadal said. “Winning here is an important step forward for me.”

Nadal’s 70 titles are three better than Djokovic, who is a year younger. Nadal is fifth on the all-time list, but seven behind John McEnroe. Further ahead, the 35-year-old Federer has 91; Ivan Lendl 94 and Jimmy Connors is a long way away with 109.

Ramos-Viñolas Defeats Lucas Pouille to Reach Monte Carlo Masters Final

Albert Ramos-Viñolas continues his Cinderella run in Monte Carlo…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis player beat Lucas Pouille 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the clay-court Monte Carlo Masters final.

Albert Ramos-Viñolas

With the sun shining and warm temperatures, the conditions were perfect for clay-court tennis on the idyllic center court perched above the glittering Mediterranean Sea.

Ramos- Viñolas took the first set when he broke the 11th-seeded Frenchman to love, concluding with a smash at the net.

Pouille missed a chance to break in the ninth game of the second set, meaning he was serving to stay in the match. After holding easily with a neat volley at the net, Pouille got the crowd going and then played his best tennis of the match.

He broke Ramos- Viñolas in the next game when the Spaniard hit a forehand long, and Pouille leveled the match on his own serve.

But he seemed to be struggling physically in the deciding set.

At 3-0 down, Pouille needed treatment to his lower back and hips for about four minutes during the changeover.

His power went after that and the inevitable conclusion happened when Pouille dropped his serve again in the seventh game.

It’s Ramos- Viñolas’ first time reaching a Masters 1000 final and has only one career title to his name.

Ramos- Viñolas, the 15th-seed, will play either defending champion Rafael Nadal or 10th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium in the final.