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.

Bruno Soares Wins Men’s Doubles Title at US Open with New Partner Mate Pavic

Bruno Soares is back in the winner’s circle at Flushing Meadows.

The 38-year-old Brazilian tennis player and Mate Pavic won their first Grand Slam championship as a team on Thursday, beating Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic 7-5, 6-3 to take home the US Open trophy.

Bruno Soares & Mate Pavic

“It means a lot. That’s what we practice for. That’s what we were trying to do in these five months off, working for this moment,” Soares said on court after the match. “Extremely happy. Tough year for everyone. Really glad the work that everyone put into this event to give us the opportunity to get back on the court. To start with a Grand Slam title, I think it’s a very positive way to come back for us.”

Pavic and Soares lost in the first round of the Western & Southern Open, the first tournament since the ATP Tour resumed. But they battled past four former US Open champions en route to earning the title at the same venue, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Both men had previously captured Grand Slam glory, with Soares winning the 2016 Australian Open and US Open with Jamie Murray, while Pavic triumphed at the 2018 Australian Open with Oliver Marach.

This is their second tour-level victory together after winning last year’s Shanghai Masters.

Pavic and Soares were both the more dynamic and solid team inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Pavic wreaked havoc with his big serve and flashy shotmaking, while Soares made few mistakes and forced their opponents to hit difficult shots.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Notches Best Ever Grand Slam Performance with Third Round Win at US Open

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is boldly going where he hasn’t gone before…

The 21-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated Cameron Norrie 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 43 minutes on Friday in the third round at the US Open.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Davidovich Fokina showed little sign of nerves during the match as he booked a place in the fourth round in his US Open debut, as he registered his best ever performance at a Grand Slam championship. His previously best was a Second Round appearance at this year’s Australian Open.

Davidovich Fokina, who has admitted that he learned a lot from hitting with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Marbella during the five-month ATP Tour suspension, won eight straight games against Norrie from 1-2 in the third set to a 3-0 lead in the fourth set.

The World No. 99 beat Dennis Novak in the first round and No. 24 seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, having lost in the first round of qualifying at the Western & Southern Open.

He’ll next play Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.

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.

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.”