Rafael Nadal Becomes Only Fourth Man to Reach 1,000 Career Match Wins

Rafael Nadal has joined an elite group of tennis stars…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star has become only the fourth man to reach 1,000 match victories.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal reached the milestone at the Paris Masters after defeating his compatriot Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Nadal joins towering company in Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068) as the only men in the 1,000-wins club since the Open era began in 1968.

“I know it is a very special number, one thousand,” Nadal said. “Even if it’s not the same to celebrate something like this without a crowd.”

Nadal smiled as he posed at the net with the number 1,000 displayed on the court in a brief ceremony, and then he walked off center court like after any other match.

It was the second milestone he reached in Paris this year, having won the French Open last month to tie Federer with 20 majors.

Nadal’s first win came in May 2002 at the age of 15, when he beat Paraguayan Ramon Delgado in the first round at Mallorca.

A year later, the 16-year-old Nadal stunned the tennis world by beating French Open champion Albert Costa under floodlights in the second round at the Monte Carlo Masters.

By the age of 24, he had already reached 500 wins. His career tally also includes 35 Masters titles and 86 tournament victories overall.

Nadal, who has never won this tournament, next plays Australia’s Jordan Thompson, who upset 15th-seeded Croat Borna Coric 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Rafael Nadal Routs Novak Djokovic to Win French Open for Record-Tying 20th Men’s Grand Slam Title

Rafael Nadal has lived to slay on clay another day…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star produced a nearly flawless performance against World. No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles.

Rafael Nadal

 

Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and added to his own record at Roland Garros with No. 13 on the red clay, courtesy of a surprisingly dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Djokovic.

“What you are doing in this court is unbelievable. Not just this court — throughout your entire career, you’ve been a great champion,” Djokovic told Nadal during the trophy presentation. “Today you showed why you are King of the Clay.”

Rafael NadalWhen Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It’s the fourth time he has won his favorite tournament without ceding a set.

“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” Nadal said.

He deflected a question during the on-court post-match interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open.

“[To] win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … [to] think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”

Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, improved to 100-2 at the French Open, including a combined 26-0 in semifinals and finals, and picked up his fourth consecutive title in Paris. He previously put together streaks of four French Open championships from 2005 to ’08, then five in a row from 2010 to ’14, to go alongside his four trophies at the US Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003. Federer’s first arrived at Wimbledon that year; Nadal, naturally, earned his first in France in 2005, by which point he trailed 4-0.

Federer reacted to Nadal’s win on Twitter, congratulating his “greatest rival.”

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” Federer said in his post. “As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.

“… I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Nadal is the oldest French Open champion since 1972, and the more than 15 years between his first and most recent Grand Slam titles is the longest such span for a man.

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 Defeats Vasek Pospisil in US Open Fourth Round to Reach First-Ever Grand Slam Quarterfinal

It’s a US Open to remember for Alex de Minaur

The 21-year-old Uruguayan/Spanish Australian tennis player defeated Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-2 at Flushing Meadows on Monday to reach into his first-ver Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Alex de Minaur

He’s also the first Australian to reach the men’s last eight at the US Open since John Millman in 2018.

de Minaur, the 21st seed, will next face Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals.

When the US Open started de Minaur would’ve been considered as a potential title winner.

But with Novak Djokovic disqualified on Sunday after striking a line judge in the throat with a ball, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal not at Flushing Meadows and Andy Murray suffering an early round defeat, the chances of de Minaur winning the title have grown.

With the stakes a little higher, the opening set unfolded like the first round of a prize fight with both players probing for openings and neither managing a single break chance.

In the tiebreak it was Pospisil who had looked poised to land the first blow by going up 6-2, but De Minaur swept the next six points to grab a 1-0 lead.

“That first set was crucial,” said de Minaur. “I think it was just a couple of things going his way and then my way.

“I went down 6-2 but I don’t think I played a bad tiebreak I was just unlucky here and there.

“I just tried to stay calm, do my thing.”

After that effort the Pospisil could only muster token resistance, with de Minaur securing an early break in the second and third sets and never allowing him a chance to get back into the match.

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.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Athlete

Lionel Messi is breaking the bank…

The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star is the highest-paid Latino on Forbes’ list of this year’s The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes.

Lionel Messi

Messi comes in at No. 3 on the list, behind Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo, with earning reported at $104 million.

The Futbol Club Barcelona star’s earnings includes his $72 million salary with his team, as well as  $32 million in endorsements, including his lifelong deal with Adidas.

Nipping on Messi’s heels… Neymar.

The 28-year-old Brazilian footballer, on a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain through June 2022 worth $350 million, comes in at No. 4 with combined earnings of $95.5 million. 

Nike‘s Jordan Brand signed Neymar as its first soccer ambassador in 2016. In March 2020, its film unit released a movie about his life.

Messi and Ronaldo had previously held the No. 1 spot in three of the past four years.

Rafael Nadal comes in at No. 27 on the list.

The 33-year-old tennis star has combined earnings of $40 million. The greatest clay court player of his generation captured two of Grand Slam titles in 2019, his 12th French Open title and fourth U.S. Open.

Here’s a look at the Latino athletes making this year’s top earners list.

No. 3:  Lionel Messi, Soccer, Argentine, $104 million
No. 4:  Neymar, Soccer, Brazil, $95.5 million
No. 27:  Rafael Nadal, Tennis, Spain, $40 million
No. 30:  Canelo Alvarez, Boxing, Mexico, $37 million
No. 46:  Andres Iniesta, Soccer, Spain, $29.6 million
No. 56: Oscar, Soccer, Brazil, $27.5 million
No. 67: David de Gea, Soccer, Spain,  $25.7 million
No. 69: Alexis Sanchez, Soccer, Chile, $25.6 million
No. 79: Al Horford, Basketball, Dominican Republic, $24.4 million
No. 100: Sergio Ramos, Soccer, Spain, $21.8 million

Rafael Nadal Pledges AUD $250,000 for Australia Bushfire Relief Efforts During Rally for Relief

Rafael Nadal is swinging for a cause…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star was among some of tennis’ biggest names gathered in Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday to raise funds for Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis.

Rafael Nadal Rally for Relief

Raising nearly 5 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million), Nadal, Serena WilliamsNovak DjokovicRoger FedererCaroline Wozniacki and a number of up-and-coming stars at the Rally for Relief gave the capacity crowd of more than 15,000 fans the opportunity to see the lighter side of the competitive sport.

Nadal and the gang volunteered their time for the cause. On several occasions, volunteer fire personnel took to the court to play against the tennis stars.

Australian’s Nick Kyrgiosplayed a role in kick-starting the wave of relief. His Twitterpledge of $200 per ace throughout the Australian summer inspired colleagues into action, prompting Tennis Australiato announce the Rally for Relief evening.

During the event, Federerand Nadal announced they’d contribute 250,000 Australian dollars to the cause.

Kyrgios said he “got goose bumps” when the figure was announced after his one-set match with Federer on the night.

“It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. I just wanted to send a message. … I was eating dinner and wrote a tweet … and it kind of exploded,” he said on court after the event. “When I was back home in Canberra, I couldn’t even go outside [due to the smoke].”

Federer said he and other players were only too happy to help out a nation in which he spends nearly one month of the year.

“It’s been hard to watch,” Federer said. “As you get it through the news, you don’t know how bad it is, but then you get here and speak to the people affected, it’s difficult. I’m always happy to help and lend my money and do my fair share.”

Rafael Nadal to Take Part in ‘Rally for Relief’ Charity Event to Raise Funds for Australian Bushfire Relief

Rafael Nadalis ready to swing his racquet for a good cause…

The 33-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, will take part in a charity event ahead of the Australian Open that will have a new air quality policy as organizers grapple with issues related to the bushfire crisis.

Rafael Nadal

Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley announced on Wednesday that the Rally for Relief will be held onRod Laver Arena on the evening of January 15 with proceeds going to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Nadal will take part alongside Roger FedererSerena WilliamsNick KyrgiosNaomi OsakaCaroline Wozniaki and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“For a period of about two-and-a-half hours we’re going to be showcasing the game, but also coming together as a community to play our part in the relief effort,” Tiley said

“I’m really proud of the playing group because the number of calls and emails I’ve got with everyone stepping forward and either giving money or making themselves available.

“The format is going to be pretty cool … it’s going to be a combination of fun and seriousness.

“We’ll see some doubles, we’ll see some singles, some target hitting and opportunities to raise more money on the night.

“We’ll see the players having a lot of fun.”

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster with all proceeds going to bushfire disaster relief charities.

Tiley also confirmed the Open will go ahead as scheduled with an air quality policy in place after concerns had been raised about the potential for smoke from bushfires burning in Victoria’s east to affect the health of players and fans.

“This is a new experience for not only us but across the world in this sport,” Tiley said.

“But we lead the world with the extreme heat policy and we expect to do the same around air quality.

“We do have three stadiums with roofs so play will always continue.

“But what will be new is that we will have some real-time (air quality) monitoring on-site … and we’ll use that analysis to make some decisions around the safety and well-being of players and fans.

“… I think the players understand that this is not something that we can do anything about and they’ve been gracious and very cooperative.

“They want to play.”

Alex de Minaur Reaches Semifinals at the Next Gen ATP Finals

Alex de Minaur is on to the next…

The 20-year-old Uruguayan and Spanish-Australian tennis phenom, the top seed at this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, has advanced to the semifinals at the tournament after producing his best performance of the week.

Alex de Minaur

de Minaur fired 23 winners to reach the semifinals with a 4-1, 4-0, 4-2 win over Norway’s Casper Ruud in just 61 minutes.

de Minaur clinched his spot in the last four after winning the opening set against Ruud. The Aussie finished 3-0 in Group A, marking the second straight year he’s gone undefeated in round-robin play at the event. 

His victory marked a record-breaking seventh win in Milan, breaking a tie with Andrey Rublev. Meanwhile, Ruud has been eliminated after dropping to 1-2.

“I knew from playing Casper before that he’d dictate any short ball without a purpose,” De Minaur said. “The game plan was to play on my own terms, play aggressively, play different styles of tennis. The goal I had was [to take] any half-chance, go up and back myself at the net. I’m glad it worked out today. I’m looking forward to the semi-finals.”

de Minaur arrived in Milan at a career-high No. 18 in the ATP world rankings. He used the momentum from his runner-up finish at last year’s event to spur a breakout season that includes his first three ATP Tour titles at the Sydney InternationalBB&T Atlanta Open and Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships. He further proved his mettle indoors by reaching the final two weeks ago at the Swiss Indoors Basel, losing to Roger Federer.

He’ll next face USA’s Frances Tiafoe in the semifinals.

Rafael Nadal to Compete at the ATP Cup in January

Rafael Nadalwill be spending the New Year Down Under

The ATP says all top 10 ranked players, including the 33-year-old Spanish tennis star and recent US Open championNovak Djokovic and Roger Federer, have committed to play in the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia in January.

Rafael Nadal

The organization said the top 18 ranked countries and Australia, as the host-country wild card, will be among the qualifiers for the tournament to be held in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3-12. Serbia leads the current rankings, with Spain second, Switzerland third and Russia fourth.

The ATP said the top two players for each country have committed to play, subject to change based on the ATP Rankings at the second entry deadline on November 13, when remaining team members — up to an additional three players — will qualify.

Five additional countries also will qualify to compete at the 24-country tournament based on the ranking of their No. 1 singles player.

Countries will be drawn into one of six groups Monday when the official draw is held at the Sydney Opera House.

The group stages of the ATP Cup will be hosted in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney over six days. Eight countries will then play at the ATP Cup Final Eightin Sydney that will feature quarterfinals over two days, semifinals and a final. Each match will be two singles and one doubles.