Carlos Alcaraz Among ESPN’s ’21 Under 21′ Tennis Players to Watch in 2021

Carlos Alcaraz is among the phenoms to watch this year…

ESPN has announced tennis’ 21 under 21 for 2021, with the 17-year-old Spanish tennis player among the sport’s rising stars making the grade.

Carlos Alcaraz

Despite the circumstances of the 2020 season, Alcaraz managed to move up 350 spots the rankings by year’s end, moving from No. 491 to No. 141, even reaching a career-high of No. 136 in October.

He started the year with back-to-back titles on the ITF Futures tour and was granted a wild card into the Rio Open in February. And the then-16-year-old made the most of his ATP Tour level debut, upsetting former World No. 17 Albert Ramos-Viñolas in 3 hours, 36 minutes in the opening round to become the first player born in 2003 to win a match and the youngest match winner since 2013. Alcaraz called the victory the high point of his season.

Following the restart of the season in August, Alcaraz went 20-4 in ATP Challenger events and won three titles at Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante, as well as playing in the final at Cordenons. He was named the ATP‘s Newcomer of the Year and is the youngest player in the top 600.

But Alcaraz, who idolizes fellow countryman Rafael Nadal, has even bigger goals for 2021. He hopes to make his first main draw appearance at a major in Australia in February and then play in all of the Grand Slams. As for his ranking? He’s hoping to make another big push in the new year.

“I want to finish the year in the top 50,” he said.

But Alcaraz isn’t the only Latinx tennis player to make the list…

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez completed her high school studies in the spring during the tour stoppage.

The 18-year-old half-Ecuadorian tennis player made her major main draw debut at the Australian Open in January — just a year removed from winning the junior title — but it was what she did in the weeks following the event that raised tennis fans’ eyebrows.

After losing in the first round in Melbourne, Fernandez scored her first win over a top-10 player (Belinda Bencic) while representing Canada in the Fed Cup (now known as the Billie Jean King Cup) in Switzerland. Later that month, she won six matches in seven days as a wild card qualifier in the Mexican Open, rolling into the final, where she ultimately lost to Heather Watson. The following week, she advanced to the quarterfinals at the Monterrey Open, defeating 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the second round.

Fernandez made a second-round appearance at the US Open and advanced to the third round of the French Open, where she took a 5-1 first-set lead over Petra Kvitova before the two-time major champion came back to win.

Fernandez thinks her 2021 will be even more successful. Her plan is to reach the top 10 by the end of the year.

Thiago Seyboth Wild wasn’t exactly the favorite entering the Chile Open last February after cracking the top 200 for the first time. But having notched one of the biggest wins of his career the week prior at the Rio Open in 3 hours, 49 minutes — the longest match ever in tournament history — over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and taking World No. 32 Borna Ćorić to three sets the next round, the then-19-year old Brazilian tennis player was flying high entering the event.

What he did over the course of the week in Santiago was even more impressive.

Seyboth Wild knocked off three seeds en route to the title, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to win an ATP event and the youngest Brazilian champion in the Open era.

He found mixed results after the restart, losing in the first round of the US Open and not making it past qualifying at the French Open. But he made a finals appearance at a Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence, which lifted him to a career-high No. 106 in the rankings.

Seyboth Wild hopes to build off what he achieved in 2020 in the new year, although he says he focused more on some of the small things during the preseason.

Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order:

Carlos Alcaraz
Age: 17
Ranking: 141
Country: Spain
Career highlights: Winner of three ATP Challenger titles and three ITF Futures titles; Won his ATP main draw debut at the 2020 Rio Open

Bianca Andreescu
Age: 20
Ranking: 7
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Champion, 2019 US Open, 2019 Indian Wells and 2019 Canadian Open

Amanda Anisimova
Age: 19
Ranking: 30
Country: USA
Career highlights: Semifinals, 2019 French Open; Champion, 2019 Copa Colsanitas

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Age: 20
Ranking: 21 (77 in doubles)
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 US Open; Six-time ATP finalist; Doubles champion, 2020 Paris Masters 

Leylah Fernandez
Age: 18
Ranking: 88
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 French Open; Finalist, 2020 Mexican Open

Hugo Gaston
Age: 20
Ranking: 162
Country: France
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 French Open

Coco Gauff
Age: 16
Ranking: 48 (45 in doubles)
Country: USA
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2019 Wimbledon and 2020 Australian Open; Doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Australian Open; Champion, 2019 Linz Open; Doubles champion, 2019 Washington Open and 2019 Luxembourg Open

Varvara Gracheva
Age: 20
Ranking: 94
Country: Russia
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Seven ITF titles 

Kaja Juvan
Age: 20
Ranking: 104
Country: Slovenia
Career highlights: Second round, 2019 Wimbledon, 2020 US Open, 2020 French Open; Seven ITF titles 

Sebastian Korda
Age: 20
Ranking: 118
Country: USA
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 French Open; One title on ATP Challenger Tour 

Marta Kostyuk
Age: 18
Ranking: 99 (112 in doubles)
Country: Ukraine
Career highlights: Third round, 2018 Australian Open, 2020 US Open; Three ITF singles titles, two ITF doubles titles 

Ann Li
Age: 20
Ranking: 98
Country: USA
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Three ITF titles 

Caty McNally
Age: 19
Ranking: 121 (42 in doubles)
Country: USA
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Australian Open; Doubles champion, 2019 Washington Open and 2019 Luxembourg Open 

Lorenzo Musetti
Age: 18
Ranking: 128
Country: Italy
Career highlights: Semifinals, 2020 Sardinia; Third round, 2020 Italian Open; One ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles 

Brandon Nakashima
Age: 19
Ranking: 166
Country: USA
Career highlights: Second round, 2020 US Open; One ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles 

Anastasia Potapova
Age: 19
Ranking: 101 (133 in doubles)
Country: Russia
Career highlights: Second round, 2019 Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon; Finalist, 2018 Moscow River Cup, 2018 Tashkent Open; Doubles champion, 2018 Moscow River Cup, 2019 Lausanne

Thiago Seyboth Wild
Age: 20
Ranking: 116
Country: Brazil
Career highlights: First round, 2020 US Open; Champion, 2020 Chile Open

Jannik Sinner
Age: 19
Ranking: 37
Country: Italy
Career highlights: Quarterfinals, 2020 French Open; Champion, 2020 Sofia Open, 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals 

Iga Swiatek
Age: 19
Ranking: 17 (75 in doubles)
Country: Poland
Career highlights: Champion, 2020 French Open 

Clara Tauson
Age: 18
Ranking: 152
Country: Denmark
Career highlights: Second round, 2020 French Open; Seven ITF titles 

Dayana Yastremska
Age: 20
Ranking: 29 (90 in doubles)
Country: Ukraine
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2019 Wimbledon; Champion, 2018 Hong Kong, 2019 Hua Hin, 2019 Strasbourg

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.

Cristian Garin Defeats Borna Coric to Reach Rio Open Final

It’s a personal best for Cristian Garin

Following a rain delay, the 23-year-old Chilean tennis player defeated fifth seed Borna Coric 6-4, 7-5in the semifinalsat the Rio Open to log a personal best eighth consecutive match win.

Cristian Garin

Garin, the tournament’s third seed, slept on a 6-4, 4-4 advantage, with rain suspending play. He wasted little time completing his victory, needing just four games on Sunday to reach his fifth ATP Tourfinal (3-1). All five of his tour-level championship matches have come in the past year.

Garin faced a break point in the first game of the resumption, but he was able to maintain his poise and advance after one hour and 44 minutes.

The recent Cordoba Open champion will face Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager or Hungarian lucky loser Attila Balazs.

Carreno Busta Defeats Nikola Mektic to Send Spain Into Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Pablo Carreno Busta has helped keep Spain alive in Davis Cup play…

The 25-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated Nikola Mektic 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-4 as Spain edged depleted Croatia to reach the quarterfinals on Sunday with a 3-2 victory.

Pablo Carreno Busta

Earlier Sunday, Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Croatia’s Franko Skugor 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (6) to put Spain level at 2-2 and send the match into the deciding rubber.
Croatia won the doubles on Saturday for a surprise 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Croatia, last year’s World Group runner-up, played with a reserve lineup as it missed its four top players — Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic, Borna Coric and Ivan Dodig.

Spain was without Rafael Nadal.

Spain will play Serbia in the quarterfinals which completed its 4-1 rout of Russia on Sunday.

Almagro Defeats Pablo Carreno Busta to Win the Estoril Open

Nicolas Almagro’s ATP title drought is officially over…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis player rallied from a set down to beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Sunday to claim the Estoril Open title.

Nicolas Almagro

It’s Almagro 13th career title — all on clay — and his first since winning the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur in May 2012.

Almagro twice wasted chances to serve out the first set and squandered a 6-2 lead in the opening tiebreaker. Almagro completed the fight back in just under three hours. He had 12 aces and converted five of 19 break chances to beat the eighth-seeded Carreno Busta.

Almagro will now move on to the Madrid Masters event, where he’ll play Borna Coric in the first round.

Robredo Defeats Pablo Carreno Busta to Reach Croatia Open Semifinals

Tommy Robredo is two matches away from defending his title at the Croatia Open

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player, who defeated Fabio Fognini in the finals last year, advanced to the semifinals after beating fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-4.

Tommy Robredo

The 18th-ranked Robredo next faces third-seeded Marin Cilic, who eased past Czech Lukas Rosol 6-0, 6-2.

Robredo won the first set in only 23 minutes. Carreno Busta was twice a break up in the second set before Robredo responded to win the last three games of the match.

Meanwhile, Fognini, the tournament’s top seed this year, rallied to defeat Borna Coric of Croatia 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Also, Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay beat Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to become the first qualifier in the event’s semifinals since Viktor Troicki in 2007.

Cuevas hit 12 aces for his sixth straight win in Umag, including three qualifying rounds.

He’ll next play Fognini, who was one set and a break down before he managed to turn the match around.