Paula Badosa Defeats Viktoriya Tomova at Belgrade Open to Reach First-Ever WTA Final

Paula Badosa is thisclose to her first WTA title…

The 23-year-old Spanish tennis player beat Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova in the semifinals 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and two minutes at the Belgrade Open on Friday.

Paula Badosa

Badosa started the game like a cyclone. She gave her rival no choice. Two service breaks to her rival gave her a sufficient advantage to put the first set on track and take it by a resounding 6-1 in 27 minutes.

Badosa will next play Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, who beat Colombia’s Mara Camila Osorio, in the final.

Badosa and Konjuh met in the first qualifying round of the Madrid Open in 2015, with the Spaniard winning 6-3, 6-3.

Badosa will be contesting her first final of her WTA career. She had previously reached the semifinals in Madrid, Charleston and Lyon this year.

Rafael Nadal Snaps Losing Streak Against Alexander Zverev to Advance to Italian Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal’s skid is over…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star ended a run of three straight losses to Alexander Zverev with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win to reach the Italian Open semifinals on Friday.

Rafael Nadal

Zverev beat Nadal in straight sets at the same stage in Madrid a week ago and their latest meeting was also one-sided.

Nadal raced to 4-0 in the first set and saved all eight break points he faced in the second.

“I played more solid than Madrid. Conditions are different,” Nadal said, alluding to the fact that the high-altitude of the Spanish capital allowed Zverev to dominate more with his serve. “Here are little bit more normal conditions. I was able to control a little bit more.”

Nadal, aiming for a record-extending 10th Rome title, will next face big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who reached his first Masters semifinals by edging Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (2).

Cristian Garin Reaches Madrid Open Quarterfinals After Upset-Win Over Daniil Medvedev

Cristian Garin has scored a massive upset…

The 24-year-old Chilean tennis player equaled the biggest win of his career on Thursday when he defeated World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-1 at the Madrid Open.

Cristian Garin

Garin broke the Russian twice in the third set to reach the quarterfinals after 2 hours and 30 minutes. Garin won 75 percent of his service points, hit six aces and faced just one break point.

This is Garin’s second victory against a World No. 3. En route to the 2019 BMW Open title in Munich, the Santiago native outlasted two-time defending champion Alexander Zverev in three sets.

Garin will meet Belgrade champion Matteo Berrettini for a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

He is tied at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Berrettini.

Medvedev was aiming to reach his first quarterfinal in Madrid. The Russian rallied from a set down to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Wednesday to earn his first victory in the Spanish capital.

The first set went Garin’s way after a loose service game from Medvedev early on at 1-1. The second set saw no breaks of serve and Medvedev took charge of the tiebreak by attacking Garin’s backhand. It was all Garin in the third set, as he broke Medvedev twice and controlled his nerves during a five-minute delay when the net strap broke at deuce in the final game.

Rafael Nadal Outlasts Alexander Zverev for His Record-Extending Eighth Italian Open Title

Rafael Nadal is still the King of Clay

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star profited from a timely rain delay at a break when he was down in the final set to hold off defending champion and No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 at the Italian Open in Rome.

Rafael Nadal

It was a record-extending eighth Italian Open title for Nadal, who’ll head to Roland Garros as the new world No. 1.

Nadal surrendered top spot in the ATP world rankings to Roger Federer last week after Nadal’s Madrid Open quarterfinal defeat to Dominic Thiem — the only blight on an otherwise impeccable clay-court season this year.

However, Nadal will return to the summit when the latest ATP rankings are published on Monday after he overcame world No. 3 Zverev in a thrilling finale on the Foro Italico’s Campo Centrale.

Billed as a clash between the two current top-form players on clay, Sunday’s final did not disappoint. After two hotly-contested semifinals on Saturday — Nadal saw off long-time rival Novak Djokovic while Zverev smashed a racket in anger during his victory over Marin Cilic — the championship match ebbed and flowed throughout.

Despite dropping serve in the opening game, victory looked like a foregone conclusion for 10-time French Open champion Nadal as he blistered through the first set in 33 minutes to put his young opponent on the back foot.

However, Zverev produced a phenomenal set of tennis to force the decider. The German changed tactics in the second set, becoming much more aggressive on the front foot and overwhelming Nadal with an array of powerful strokes.

The 21-year-old secured a double-break to move 5-0 ahead. After Nadal prevented the bagel, he leveled the match in style with a ferocious backhand winner down the line.

Rising star Zverev’s confidence grew further as he immediately broke Nadal at the start of the third, before the match’s turning point came in agonizing fashion.

With Zverev leading 3-1 in the final set, rain intervened and caused an hour’s delay in play. It proved pivotal, allowing Nadal precious time to regain his composure and hit back immediately after the restart.

Nadal rattled off four consecutive games — including two successive breaks of serve — to move 5-3 ahead before serving out a fifth to secure his eighth Italian crown and send out a warning to his rivals ahead of the year’s second grand slam.

Rafael Nadal Returns to No. 1 in the ATP World Rankings

Rafael Nadal is back on top…

Almost nine years to the day since he first became No. 1, the 31-year-old Spanish tennis star has returned to the top of the ATP rankings for his fourth stint at the pinnacle.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, who had previously spent 141 total weeks at No. 1, replaces Andy Murray, who had held the top spot for 41 weeks since November 7, 2016.

Nadal, who first ascended to No. 1 on August 18, 2008 at the age of 22, last held top spot three years and 45 days ago on July 6, 2014.

Nadal will now look to stay ahead of rival Roger Federer and finish atop the year-end ATP rankings for the first time since 2013 and for the fourth time in his career (2008, 2010, 2013).

“Being No. 1 after all the things that I have been going through the last couple of years is something unbelievable, so [it] is, for me, an amazing achievement to be back to that position after [a] few years, three years,” said Nadal.

Nadal has spent three previous stints at No. 1 – 46 weeks between August 18, 2008 and July 5, 2009, 56 weeks from June 7, 2010 to July 3, 2011 and 39 weeks between October 7, 2013 and July 6, 2014.

He holds the record for the longest gap – nine years and three days – between his debut at No. 1 and his return today, which betters the previous mark of Jimmy Connors, who was first No. 1 on July 29, 1974 and last at No. 1 on July 3, 1983 – a gap of eight years and 339 days.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, “To regain the No. 1 ranking nine years after having first reached it is unprecedented. Rafa has been setting records throughout his remarkable career and this one is as impressive as any. It shows incredible dedication and longevity, and we congratulate him on this amazing achievement.”

Nadal, who ended the 2016 season early due to a wrist injury, has returned in 2017 playing some of the best tennis of his career. In compiling an ATP World Tour-best 49-9 match record, Nadal has captured four trophies this season, including historic 10th titles at Roland Garros (d. Wawrinka), the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Ramos-Vinolas) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Thiem), in addition to a fifth crown at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).

He has also reached three other finals – the Australian Open (l. to Federer), Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Querrey) and the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer).

On 12 June, Nadal became the first player to qualify for the 2017 season-ending ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. It is the 13th straight year that he has qualified for the elite eight-player tournament.

Garcia Reaches Women’s Doubles Final at the French Open

Caroline Garcia has reached her first Grand Slam women’s doubles final…

The 22-year-old part-Spanish tennis player and her partner Kristina Mladenovic beat Margarita Gasparyan and Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in Friday’s semifinal at the French Open.

Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic

The all-French team, the obvious local favorites at Roland Garros, will face off against Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia in the final.

Last year, Garcia reached the third round at the French Open with then partner Katarina Srebotnik.

But this year, Garcia and Mladenovic won the women’s doubles title at the Mutua Madrid Open, defeating the No. 1 seeded team of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza in the final, 6–4, 6–4.

Garcia Upsets Agnieszka Radwanska at China’s Wuhan Open

Caroline Garcia has upset on the brain…

Following her first-round win over Venus Williams, the 20-year-old half-Spanish tennis player pulled off another big upset win, defeating fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska on Monday at the inaugural Wuhan Open in China.

Caroline Garcia

Garcia went for broke, continuing to hit big ground strokes despite piling up unforced errors as she tried to keep Radwanska on the back foot.

“It’s pretty different game between Venus and Radwanska, but I did the same game for myself,” Garcia said. “Against these kind of girls like Radwanska you have to do (this kind) of game … sometime you can miss, but I knew it was the only way I can win this today.”

Garcia, currently ranked No. 41 in the world, avenged a loss to Radwańska at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, where she’d reached the quarterfinals of a Premier WTA event for the first time. She’d defeated Angelique Kerber in the first round after the German retired with a lower back injury, receiving a walkover from Maria Kirilenko after the Russian withdrew with a wrist injury, and then defeating tenth seed Sara Errani in three sets in the third round. She eventually lost to third seed Radwańska in the final eight stage, in three sets.

Muguruza & Carla Suarez Navarro Advance to the French Open Women’s Doubles Semifinals

Garbiñe Muguruza’s sensational run in the women’s singles draw at the French Open may have come to an end in the quarterfinals… But she’s still in the title hunt at Roland Garros.

The 20-year-old half-Spanish-half-Venezuelan tennis player, considered one of the WTA’s rising stars, and her women’s doubles partner Carla Suarez Navarro beat Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, the tournament’s No. 4 seeds, 6-4 6-4, in the quarterfinals to advance to the next round.

Garbine Muguruza & Carla Suarez Navarro

Peschke and Srebotnik, 2010 French Open finalists and 2011 Wimbledon champions, were the heavy favorites going into the match.

It’s only the third Grand Slam doubles appearance of her young career. Muguruza’s previous best showing in women’s doubles at a Grand Slam was a second round appearance at this year’s Australian Open.

Muguruza and Suarez Navarro will have a tough challenge in Friday’s semifinals. They’ll be facing off against this year’s No. 1 seeds, Taiwan’s Hsieh Suwei and China’s Peng Shuai.

In the last two years, she’s taken home doubles titles at the Hobart International in 2013 and this year’s Marrakech Grand Prix. She and current partner Suarez Navarro were the runners-up at last month’s Madrid Open.

Muguruza’s Cinderella Run Comes to a Halt at the French Open

The clock has struck midnight for Garbiñe Muguruza, but not before making a massive impression at Roland Garros.

The 20-year-old half-Spanish-half-Venezuelan tennis player’s Cinderella run at the French Open came toan end at the hands of No. 7 seed Maria Sharapova.

Garbiñe Muguruza

Sharapova rallied to beat Muguruza, who was competing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Sharapova, the 2012 winner, overcame a sluggish start for the second match in a row, having defeated No. 19 Sam Stosur 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the fourth round. She improved to 18-3 in major quarterfinals and won her 48th match at Roland Garros (against 10 losses), breaking a tie with Serena Williams for the most among active players.

Williams, the world No. 1, barely added to her total at this year’s tournament because she proved no match in the second round for Muguruza, currently ranked No. 35 in the world.

Muguruza, a player to watch for a while, entered the French Open 0-5 against top-five players and 3-8 against the top 10. In her two most recent tournaments, she’d lost to Stosur in the second round of the Madrid Open and to No. 61 Francesca Schiavone in the second round of the Italian Open.

But the French Open was a different story as she crushed Williams 6-2, 6-2, followed that upset with two more routine victories and rolled to an early lead against Sharapova.

Muguruza dominated the first set on by breaking her opponent three times in five chances and hitting only seven unforced errors compared to 13 for Sharapova, who served at only 55 percent and won 2-of-9 second-serve points.

Sharapova, however, showed some of her trademark fight in the second set. After giving away a break lead with back-to-back double faults, the 27-year-old Russian had to hold at 4-5 to stay in the match. Muguruza then played a poor service game to get broken, and Sharapova served out the set.

“A lot of the games in the first set she was always up 30‑Love, 40‑Love, and then I’d win a point or two,” Sharapova said. “Then she’s the one with the confidence. You never are giving her a chance to think. In the second set, when you’re making her hit a second ball after her serve or when you’re being a bit more aggressive on the second serves, taking a bit more chances, all of a sudden she’s not hitting so freely.”

The key point of the third set came when Sharapova saved five break points while serving at 2-1. Both women struggled to string together two good points in the 10-minute game, with Muguruza taking the more offensive stance and forcing Sharapova to defend.

Sharapova struggled all day with the depth on her shots and couldn’t open up the court consistently enough to hit through her young opponent. But the Muguruza forehand broke down under pressure and began to leak errors. Sharapova finally earned the hold, won the next game for a double-break lead, at 4-1, and coasted from there.

“I knew that the match wasn’t over,” Sharapova said, when asked about the quick first set. “I still had a fair bit of time to change things around. Little by little I started playing a bit better, started getting in the court a little bit more, playing a little bit more aggressive, serving better than I did in the first set, returning as well, giving myself more looks at break points.”

“It’s tough now because I had the opportunity to win the match,” said Muguruza. “But I need more experience in these kind of matches. I think I played very good in three sets, but in the important moments I need to improve my mentality.”

Nadal Wins His Fourth Title at the Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal is back in title-winning form…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, won his fourth Madrid Open title on Sunday after Japan’s Kei Nishikori was forced to retire their match with an injury when trailing 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the men’s final.

Rafael Nadal

Nishikori’s powerful groundstrokes helped him win the first set against the Nadal, who couldn’t find a way to counter his opponent.

Nadal slowly worked his way back into the match and broke Nishikori twice in the second set to even the match.

But Nishikori was in obvious discomfort in the third, even receiving treatment on his lower back during a medical timeout, before calling it quits.

Nadal recovered from two recent quarterfinal round losses on clay to win his second title on the surface this year. He began his clay court season with a quarterfinal loss to David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo Masters. He was also stunned by Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.