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.

Garbine Muguruza Wins Her First Western & Southern Open Title

Garbine Muguruza has claimed her first title in the United States…

The 23-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player added another trophy in her breakthrough summer, beating Simona Halep on Sunday for her first Western & Southern Open title.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza’s 6-1, 6-0 win in only 56 minutes extended her streak of playing deep into tournaments and denied Halep a chance to claim the No. 1 spot in the next WTA rankings.

Muguruza won her first title in the U.S. and her second of the year, after defeating Venus Williams at Wimbledon earlier this summer. In three tournaments since, she has at least reached the quarterfinals.

Muguruza broke Halep to go up 2-0 in the first set and was in control. Halep won only 12 points in the set, which lasted 23 minutes. Muguruza broke her again to open the second set and faced only two break points all match.

When it ended, Muguruza congratulated Halep and walked around the court with her smiling face cradled in both hands, taking it all in. Then she put her hands over her heart and reached toward the applauding crowd.

The women’s bracket was missing Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Muguruza knocked off defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Garbine Muguruza Upsets Karolina Pliskova to Reach Western & Southern Open Final

Garbine Muguruza has taken down the world No. 1 to reach her first Western & Southern Open final.

The 23-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player and reigning Wimbledon champion beat World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova to secure a place in Sunday’s final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where she’ll take on No. 2 seed Simona Halep.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza came through 6-3, 6-2, having set the tone after breaking Pliskova in the very first game.

Muguruza kept the pressure on Pliskova’s serve, securing a key break to lead 4-2 in the second set before closing out victory in one hour and 21 minutes after taking a fifth match-point chance against the top seed.

Halep, meanwhile, could take over from Pliskova at the top of the WTA rankings if she’s able to win the tournament.

Halep had to battle past British No. 1 Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in their quarterfinal, which lasted almost two hours.

However, Halep coasted through the second semifinal with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Sloane Stephens in just 56 minutes.

Ferrer Defeats Julien Benneteau to Reach the Western & Southern Open Final

The third time has proven to be the charm for David Ferrer

Playing in his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal of the year, the 32-year-old Spanish tennis player soundly defeated France’s Julien Benneteau to advance to the Western & Southern Open final, his first Masters 1000 final in 2014.

David Ferrer

Ferrer, the sixth seed, was a comprehensive winner as against Benneteau, losing just five games.He needed just an hour and 11 minutes to complete a 6-3 6-2 win over his French opponent, who was playing in a Masters 1000 semifinal for the first time in his career.

The unseeded Benneteau managed to keep pace with Ferrer for the first six games before dumping a backhand into the net to give the Spaniard a break of serve.

Ferrer held his own serve then broke Benneteau again to wrap up the set, finishing things off with a backhand winner down the line.

Unforced errors continued to flow from Benneteau’s racquet at the start of the second set and Ferrer went a break up again in the fourth game.

The Frenchman did manage one more service hold and then showed admirable spirit to save four match points in the eighth game before finally succumbing on the fifth.

Ferrer, who was forced to save two match points in his opening clash with Philipp Kohlschreiber earlier this week, said afterwards: “I’m going step by step. Tennis is always a surprise. When I looked in my quarter of the draw and saw Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga there, I knew it was not easy.

“But as they lost, I took my chance and got into the final. I’m trying to improve my game every day. Watching the top 10 guys is a great inspiration to improve also. I’m feeling very comfortable on hard courts. On those I can play more with my timing than with power.”

 

Ferrer will now face former World No. 1 Roger Federer in the men’s final, his first in 11 tries at the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event.

Ferrer Defeats Tommy Robredo to Reach Western & Southern Open Semifinals

David Ferrer is hoping to advance to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in 2014.

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis star outlasted his compatriot Tommy Robredo in a hard-fought match on Friday to reach his first Western & Southern Open semifinal in 11 trips to Cincinnati.

David Ferrer

It’s Ferrer’s third semifinal at the Masters 1000 level in 2014. He lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo to Stanislas Wawrinka; and he lost to Kei Nishikori in the semifinals in Madrid.

With his 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory, Ferrer denied Robredo – who had defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 – his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal in eight years.

Ferrer is also closing in on the 600-win plateau, improving to 590-285 with his win.

Currently ranked No. 6 in the world, Ferrer claimed the 10th encounter (8-2) with the 16th-seeded Robredo in two hours and six minutes, winning 74 per cent of first serve points and breaking serve on four of 11 chances.

Robredo was unable to overcome 51 unforced errors and 19 forehand winners by Ferrer.

“Well, it’s not easy play against a friend,” said Ferrer. “Tommy and I have played a lot of times in our careers. I wish him the best luck for the next tournaments.”

Robredo Upsets World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at Western & Southern Open

Tommy Robredo has taken down the No. 1 seed at the Western & Southern Open.

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player beat top-ranked Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the round of 16 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tommy Robredo

Robredo, the 16th-seed, beat a top-ranked player for only the second time in his career. The first time, he edged Lleyton Hewitt in the 2003 French Open.

“When I finish my career, and when I will be sitting at home and talking with friends, I will remember days like this,” Robredo said.

Djokovic, who has never won the event, dropped the first set after fighting back from a 6-3 deficit in the tiebreaker. Robredo took the set with an ace that Djokovic challenged. The replay showed the ball caught the slimmest sliver of the line.

Robredo failed to convert two match points before completing the victory with a slam on Djokovic’s short lob.

“It’s disappointing that I’m finishing Cincinnati again with a tough loss, but it’s the sport,” said Djokovic, who lost in the third round at Toronto last week. “I didn’t play well in Toronto, didn’t play well here. Hopefully, it’s going to be different in New York (at the US Open).”

Robredo had lost six straight matches against the Serb after winning their first encounter.

“I knew that if I wanted to win I had to go for it and try to hope that he will not play his best match,” Robredo said. “Both things happen and then I could win.”

Nadal Defeats John Isner to Claim the Western & Southern Open Trophy

There’s apparently no stopping Rafael Nadal this summer…

Despite some powerful serves from John Isner, the 27-year-old Spanish tennis star managed to come away with another hard-court title.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal took advantage of the few openings he got on Sunday against the highest-ranked American, grinding out a 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3) win at the Western & Southern Open that added yet another title to his sensational summer.

He won the title in Montreal a week ago and now has back-to-back hard-court championships for the first time in his illustrious career. He’d never even reached the finals in Cincinnati before this year.

When his backhand down the line finished it off, Nadal flopped on his back in joy.

“It means a lot winning two straight titles on hard (courts),” Nadal said. “It’s just amazing for me. I never did something like this in my career.

“So it was an emotional moment.”

Heading into the U.S. Open, there’s no doubt about who has the most momentum — the one with the two new additions to the trophy case.

“I would say Rafa is the favorite going to the U.S.,” Isner said. “Clear-cut? I wouldn’t say that. I think he’d probably say the same.”

Nadal’s five Masters titles this season are a career best. He’s now tied with Novak Djokovic for most Masters titles in a season since 1990. He’s won seven of the nine Masters events during his career.

Nadal has dominated the tour after overcoming a knee injury that sidelined him for the last part of 2012. The win on Sunday gave him a career-best mark of 53-3 this season. He’s reached the finals in 11 of his last 12 tournaments, underscoring his consistent excellence.

Nadal Defeats Tomas Berdych to Reach the Western & Southern Open Final

He may be the third seed, but Rafael Nadal is playing like the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open.

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, has notched another victory, defeating sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-5, 7-6 (4) to reach the tournament final for the first time in nine appearances.

Rafael Nadal

“This is one tournament that I’ve never been able to play well, so it’s something special to play well in a place I never did in the past,” said Nadal, 3-0 in his career against John Isner, who he will face in the final. “I’m very happy for that. I am having the right feelings on court. I’m playing aggressive, and the crowd here is great.”

Nadal extended his personal winning streak against Berdych to 14 matches while improving his overall season record 52-3, including a 14-0 on the hardcourts. After winning at Montreal last week, Nadal will be making back-to-back appearances in hardcourt finals for the first time in his career.

He’s 15-1 against top-10 players this season.

Nadal Rallies Past Roger Federer to Reach Western & Southern Open Semis

Rafael Nadal has taken down the biggest rival of his career once again…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star rallied to beat his longtime rival Roger Federer, reaching the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday night.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory gives his record to 21-10 against former World No. 1 Federer, including wins in all three of their matches this season.

The close match came down to a few points, and Nadal got most of them.

“Always the emotion’s out there when we play each other,” Nadal said.

Nadal advances to play Tomas Berdych in the semifinals.

It’s been a summer of resurgence for Nadal. He missed the end of last season with a knee injury, but has gotten into one of the best surges of his career this season. He takes a career-best 51-3 mark into the semifinal, including a 14-1 record against Top 10 opponents.

del Potro Advances to Semis at Western & Southern Open

Despite a slight hiccup, Juan Martin del Potro continues to roll through his matches at the Western & Southern Open.

The 24-year-old Argentine tenista rallied after losing the second set to defeat qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semifinals at the Cincinnati.

Juan Martin del Potro

The seventh-seeded del Potro, who won the 2009 U.S. Open, reached the semifinals at the event for the second consecutive season.

The 44th-ranked Tursunov was trying to become the first qualifier to reach the tournament’s semifinals since David Wheaton in 1994. He won the second set after del Potro double-faulted to set up break point. Del Potro then volleyed a short Tursunov lob into the net, giving the qualifier a 5-3 lead.

del Potro responded by breaking Tursunov in the second game of the third set on his way to a 3-0 lead. Another break gave del Potro a 5-1 lead, and he clinched the win with an ace at love.