Alex de Minaur Defeats Grigor Dimitrov to Advance to Rotterdam Open Final

Alex de Minaur is headed to the Rotterdam Open final.

The 25-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian tennis player notched an emphatic revenge win over Grigor Dimitrov to earn the perfect 25th birthday present.

Alex de MinaurAt the same event on de Minaur’s birthday in 2023, Dimitrov proved a veritable party pooper by knocking out the Australian No 1 in the quarterfinals.

But the ‘Demon’ avenged that narrow defeat emphatically in the Rotterdam Ahoy arena in Saturday’s (Sunday AEDT) semifinal with a 6-4 6-3 win that has set up a final showdown against Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner.

Back in tournament action for the first time since his Melbourne Park triumph, top seed and world No.4 Sinner downed home favorite Tallon Griekspoor 6-2 6-4 in the later semifinal.

de Minaur’s win has ensured he will rise to a career-high No 9 in the world rankings next week from his current position of 11.

He had already avenged his painful Australian Open last-16 defeat by downing Andrey Rublev 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 in the quarterfinals on Friday.

“I’m extremely happy with the level throughout the whole match,” a delighted de Minaur said after beating Dimitrov.

“It was probably one of the better matches I’ve played from start to finish. Even saying that, I always know that Grigor is going to lift his level and compete until the end, and I had to fight off some pretty tough break points, when I came up with some of my best tennis.”

de Minaur crashed 14 winners and made just four unforced errors in his impressive 84-minute march.

“From the word go here in Rotterdam, I’ve felt a very calm presence. I’ve felt positive, I’ve been calm and collected throughout whole matches, and I think that’s been a big key for me,” added de Minaur, who is also competing in his first tournament since the Australian Open.

The Sydneysider puts his improved form down to a stronger mentality that’s beginning to harden him in matches against the very best players, a steely streak that the last Aussie to win in Rotterdam 20 years ago, Lleyton Hewitt, also had.

It’s no coincidence that de Minaur has been working so closely of late with his Davis Cup captain Hewitt, and he explained after the Dimitrov win: “This is my standard now, this is what I’ve got to bring every single time I walk on the court.

“I think I made a big step in the right direction, showing the type of tennis I can play, week in, week out. I think I’ve raised the bar a little bit and hopefully there’s plenty more to go.”

But Sinner is the acid test for him. If any player could give the Australian an inferiority complex, it’s his 22-year-old Italian foe, who’s won all six of their matches and lost just one set since they first dueled in the ATP NextGen finals in 2019.

Rafael Nadal to Serve as Saudi Tennis Federation Ambassador

Rafael Nadal is hoping to inspire the next generation of tennis players in the Middle East.

The 37-year-old Spanish professional tennis player will serve as an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation, part of a recent effort by the kingdom to make inroads into tennis and other sports.

Rafael NadalNadalh as won 22 Grand Slam titles. He’s missing the Australian Open while recovering from a muscle tear near his surgically repaired hip. He had hoped to return to Grand Slam action at Melbourne Park after missing nearly all of 2023.

Nadal’s new role, announced Monday, includes promoting tennis in Saudi Arabia and plans for a Rafa Nadal Academy there.

It signals yet another step into tennis for the kingdom, which is hosting the men’s tour’s Next Gen ATP Finals for top 21-and-under players in Jeddah through 2027. The women’s tour has been in talks to place its season-ending WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia.

Human rights groups say women continue to face discrimination in most aspects of family life in the kingdom, and being gay is a major taboo, as it is in most of the rest of the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has worked to get himself out of international isolation since the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He also clearly wants to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and reduce its reliance on oil.

Alex de Minaur Wins Australia’s Newcombe Medal

Alex de Minaur has earned Australia’s highest individual honor in tennis…

The 24-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian professional tennis player has been awarded the Newcombe Medal once again after his most consistent season yet.

Alex de Minaur,de Minaur claimed the award outright for the first time on Monday, after previously sharing the 2018 award with Ash Barty and he joins some of the greats of Australian tennis as a multiple winner.

He won the award, named after tennis great John Newcombe, ahead of Storm Hunter, Rinky HijikataAlexei Popyrin, Matt Ebden and Max Purcell.

The world No. 12 joins five-time Newcombe Medalist Barty, three-time recipient Samantha Stosur and wheelchair wizard Dylan Alcott among those who’ve won the award at least twice.

“I’m very sad that I wasn’t able to attend the Newcombe Medal this year and I’m extremely grateful for this amazing award,” de Minaur said in a video message from his training base in Spain.

“It’s been a great year, not only for myself, but for all of Australian tennis and I think we should (all be) very proud indeed.

“(I) would also like to thank Newk. Wish I could shake your hand right now and be there, but I appreciate everything you do for Australian tennis.”

de Minaur’s recognition comes off the back of soaring to the cusp of the world’s top 10 in 2023.

He reached a career-high No. 11 in October, collected his seventh ATP Tour title in Acapulco, made four finals and helped Australia to a second straight Davis Cup decider in Spain.

That included a brilliant fightback in the quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic.

In his most consistent season, de Minaur also became the first Australian since his idol and Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt in 2004 to progress to 11 tournament quarterfinals.

He made the second week at two of the four grand slams, in Melbourne and New York. de Minaur is Australia’s biggest hope at Melbourne Park in January, when he will attempt to better his fourth-round appearances in 2022 and 2023.

Earlier in the evening, Alicia Molik was awarded the Spirit of Tennis award. During her career, Molik rose to world No.8 in singles and No.6 in doubles and she was also a Fed Cup representative from 1999.

After her playing career, Molik, 42, went on to lead Australia to the Billie Jean King Cup final as captain in 2019 at Perth and in 2022 at Glasgow.

International Tennis Federation Encouraging Rafael Nadal to Play it the 2024 Paris Games

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Rafael Nadal’s return to competitive play, one organization is encouraging him to get back in the game in time for the 2024 Paris Games.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is planning to do everything it can to encourage the 37-year-old former world No. 1 to compete in the Paris Olympic Games, the global tennis body’s chief David Haggerty tells Reuters.

Rafael NadalNadal has been sidelined since hurting his hip flexor in a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in mid-January and has yet to confirm his plans for next season following surgery.

Nadal had previously said he expects to retire following the 2024 season and hoped to play in the Paris Games with the tennis tournament set to take place at Roland Garros, where he has won 14 of his 22 Grand Slam titles.

Nadal won the Olympic singles gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games and the doubles gold eight years later at the 2016 Rio Games.

“We know what a champion he is and a medalist a number of times so it certainly could be a storybook ending, so to speak, for him. It would be great. Whether he does or not, will be up to him,” Haggerty told Reuters in a video call on Monday.

“But we’ll do everything we can to encourage him to play, because I think it would be great. Knowing that it’s in Paris, at Roland Garros, where he’s had such tremendous success would be a great venue for him to be able to compete at.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said earlier this month Nadal would return to Grand Slam tennis at Melbourne Park, but the player’s representative said no timeline had been set for his comeback.

Nadal has been stepping up his recovery and releasing videos on social media of his training.

“I think the main thing for him is just being healthy and feeling he can compete at the level that he wants to, because that’s the kind of competitor he is,” Haggerty said.

“He wants to be at the top of his game and we wish him the best.”

Leylah Fernandez to Make Debut at Upcoming United Cup Mixed Team Event

United Leylah Fernandez stands…

The 21-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player will take part in the new-look United Cup mixed team event in Perth and Sydney from December 29 to January 7 as one of the key warm-up tournaments for the Australian Open.

Leylah FernandezFernandez, who will be paired up with compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime, will compete for the first time as she represents her home country.

France, the No. 4 seed, will be led by part-Spanish French tennis player Caroline Garcia and Adrian Mannarino.

Team Poland, led by world No. 2 and four-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, has been named as the top seed for the 2024 edition after the entries from the top 16 countries were released by Tennis Australia.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari will lead No.2-seeded Greece, with the defending champion United States, featuring Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz, seeded third. Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova will headline the Czech Republic team alongside Jiri Lehecka while Croatia rounds out the top six, featuring Borna Coric and Donna Vekic.

China’s Qinwen Zheng and Zhizhen Zhang and the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Arantxa Rus will also compete for the first time.

Serbia will be led by Novak Djokovic and Olga Danilovic.

Other entries include Norway’s Casper Ruud, Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber and Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

Each team will consist of men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles.

The Australian Open is scheduled for Melbourne Park from January 14-28.

Alex de Minaur Earns First Win Over Rafael Nadal in United Cup Play

Alex de Minaur has finally claimed a win against a tennis legend…

For the first time in his career, the 23-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian professional tennis player defeated Rafael Nadal at the United Cup mixed team tournament Monday, as concerns about the world No. 2’s early-season form grew ahead of his Australian Open title defense.

Alex de Minaur, It was de Minaur’s first win against Nadal in four attempts.

Nadal showed glimpses of brilliance during his opening loss to Cameron Norrie following his return to action after an injury-plagued 2022 season, and he looked set to respond against de Minaur, only to fall again as de Minaur won 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, has now won only one of his past seven matches on the ATP tour — a dead rubber round-robin stage victory over Casper Ruud at the ATP Finals. His other losses have come against Felix Auger-AliassimeTaylor FritzTommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe.

Nadal will next be in action at the season’s first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park starting January 16, giving him time to iron out flaws.

Spain and Australia not being in contention for the next stage of the inaugural $15 million prize money event had dulled the edge of their meeting slightly, and de Minaur’s quest for his first win over Nadal looked set to continue as he fell behind.

However, he rallied from a set and a break down to secure the biggest victory of his career as Nadal surrendered his serve in the 11th game and de Minaur closed out the victory to spark emotional scenes and delight the raucous Sydney fans.

Rafael Nadal Rallies to Win Australian Open & Claim Men’s Record 21st Grand Slam Title

Life is grand for Rafael Nadal

The 35-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, a renowned right-to-the-end competitor, fought back from two sets down defeat Daniil Medvedev to win the Australian Open and claim his record 21st Grand Slam title.

Rafael Nadal

With his dramatic 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 comeback win that lasted 5 hours, 24 minutes, Nadal set the men’s record for most Grand Slam singles titles.

Nadal now has one more major title than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his long-time rivals in the so-called Big Three.

He was the only one of the three who had a chance to claim the record solo in Australia.

Federer is still recovering from knee surgery, and Djokovic was deported from Australia on the eve of the tournament because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

It’s all history now that Nadal has become just the fourth man to win all four of the sport’s major titles at least twice.

“I was repeating to myself during the whole match, ‘I lost a lot of times here having chances, sometimes I was a little bit unlucky,'” Nadal said. “I just wanted to keep believing until the end.”

“Tonight has been unforgettable. I feel very lucky.”

Nadal was broken when serving for the championship for the first time at 5-4 in the fifth set, but he made no mistake two games later, converting the first of his championship points.

Taking everything into account, “the scenario, the momentum,” he said, “without a doubt probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career.

He added, “The most unexpected. And most surprising, I think, for everyone.”

Federer and Djokovic were watching, from a distance, and both used social media messages to offer congratulations to Nadal for breaking their three-way tie atop the men’s Grand Slam standings.

Nadal and Medvedev packed a lot of drama into the final that started Sunday night, was delayed in the 84-minute second set when a human rights activist jumped onto the court and finished close to 1:15 a.m.

Nadal was serving for the second set but was broken in that game. Then Medvedev had his moments to break again in the third set but admitted he got tight.

“Should have done better. Should have hit a winner,” Medvedev said. “Maybe would have won the match.”

“Tactically nothing changed,” he added, “but Rafa stepped up.”

Indeed, he did. And at 1:30 a.m. he stepped up onto the podium to give his victory speech.

“Good evening. No, good morning!” Nadal joked, looking at his watch.

In the background, Rod Laver, the aging Australian tennis great for whom Melbourne Park‘s main stadium is named, was holding up his smartphone to capture the scenes. A woman nearby held up a sign that stated: “Rafa is the GOAT.”

For now, in terms of men’s major titles at least, Nadal is the Greatest Of All Time.

Nadal praised Medvedev for the part he played in what eventually became the second-longest Australian Open final ever. Nadal’s loss to Djokovic a decade ago lasted 5:53.

Nadal’s 21st major title was even more remarkable considering he had only two matches under his belt in the second half of 2021 because he was sidelined with a chronic foot injury. He also overcame a bout of COVID-19.

“For me, it’s just amazing,” he said, adding that only six weeks ago, “I didn’t know if I’d be able to play on the tour again.”

Nadal won his first Australian Open title in 2009 and then lost four other finals here. His conversion rate in major finals is now 21 out of 29.

Medvedev, who was aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win his first two Grand Slam titles back-to-back, was ever-so-close to spoiling another 21st celebration.

Djokovic was chasing the same record at the US Open last year, and a calendar-year Grand Slam, when Medvedev beat him in straight sets in the final.

Federer also had his chance at 21, but Djokovic stopped that after saving match points en route to winning the 2019 Wimbledon final.

For Nadal, this was just the fourth time — and first since 2007 — he has rallied from two sets down to win a best-of-five-set match. It’s the first time it has happened at the Australian Open final since 1965.

Alex de Minaur Reaches Australian Open Fourth Round for the First Time

It’s a sweet 16 for Alex de Minaur

The 22-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian tennis player has reached the Australian Open‘s round of 16 for the first time, the local hope winning his ninth straight set at Melbourne Park as he defeated Pablo Andujar.

Alex de Minaur,de Minaur, the 32nd seed, beat the Spanish veteran and regular hitting partner Andujar 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in another commanding display as Australian tennis great Rod Laver watched on in the stadium named in his honor on Saturday.

de Minaur will face Italian 20-year-old world No. 10 Jannik Sinner, who has beaten the Australian in both previous encounters, for a place in the quarterfinals.

de Minaur, ranked 42 in the world, lost the first set in his first round clash but has won his past nine to build his best home campaign.

Andujar, who will turn 36 on Sunday, joined the tour in 2003 and has returned from three separate surgeries on his right elbow to hit a ranking high of 32 in the world seven years ago.

He made the Australian earn it, but de Minaur obliged in trademark fashion to run down the Spaniard’s best and counter with some scintillating shot-making of his own.

de Minaur rifled a forehand down the line to secure the decisive break in the first set, while a pinpoint lob earned applause from his opponent in the second set after the Australian had somehow scrambled to stay in the point.

The cracks opened, a double fault handed de Minaur a break in the third set and he rammed home his advantage with another monster forehand in the next game.

“Pretty exciting to play here at Rod Laver Arena at 7pm in front of Rod Laver himself … it’s a pretty amazing feeling and I got the win so what more can I ask for,” de Minaur said on court.

“(I’m expecting) a lot of firepower from Jannik, he’s a hell of a player so I’m just looking forward to it.”

de Minaur is set to rise at least nine spots to No. 33 in the world thanks to his career-best performance at Melbourne Park.

Rafael Nadal to Lead Spanish Team at Next Month’s ATP Cup

Rafael Nadal is headed back to the court next month…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star is set to return for the ATP Cup, the season-opening men’s team tennis event, starting February 1, but the United States will be missing because of a change in format that has halved the field.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, last year’s runner-up, will be joined in the tournament by last year’s ATP Cup champion Novak Djokovic. His Spanish team includes Roberto Bautista Agut, Marcel Granollers and Pablo Carreno Busta.

Diego Schwartzman, Guido Pella, Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez will represent Argentina in this year’s tournament, while Alex de Minaur will play for Australia and Steven Diez will represent Canada.

The inaugural event last year featured 24 teams and was played in three Australian cities, with Djokovic’s Serbia team beating Nadal and Spain in the final at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena.

The February 1-5 second edition will involve 12 teams and be played entirely at Melbourne Park amid COVID-19 restrictions, along with WTA and ATP tournaments, in the week leading into the Australian Open.

The draw will be held on January 20, with teams divided into four groups. The winner of each round-robin group will advance to the semifinals.

Qualification for the ATP Cup was based on the ranking of each country’s top player, with Australia included on a wild-card entry. Other competing countries include Austria, Russia, Greece, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Japan, France and Canada.

All players arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open will be required to quarantine for 14 days before the delayed start of the season’s first major. The Australian Open is usually staged in the last two weeks of January, but it has been pushed back to February 8-21 because of travel and other restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualifying for the men’s singles draw will take place in Doha, Qatar, and for the women’s in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, both running January 10-13.

As with other sports, the international tennis calendar was disrupted in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, including the postponement of the French Open‘s start from May to September, and the cancellation of Wimbledon for the first time since World War II.

Garbine Muguruza Defeats Simona Halep to Reach First Australian Open Final

Garbine Muguruzais one win away from her third Grand Slamtitle…

In a battle of former World No. 1 players, the 26-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis playerbeat No. 4 seed Simona Halepin straight sets on Thursday to reach the Australian Openfinal for the first time.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza’s 7-6 (8), 7-5 victory sends her to the title match against 14th-seeded Sofia Keninof the United States. Kenin beat No. 1 Ash Barty7-6 (6), 7-5.

Muguruza, unseeded at Melbourne Park, fended off four set points in the opener of her semifinal and wound up defeating Halep in a matchup of players who’ve won Wimbledonand the French Openbut not the Australian Open.

It was a streaky contest: Muguruza led 5-3 in the first set before Halep took 15 of 17 points to earn a pair of set points. Muguruza then took seven consecutive points. And so on, until Halep put a shot in the net to relinquish that set, then smashed her racket and sat on the sideline, shaking her head.

“I wasn’t thinking I was down,” Muguruza said. “You keep going.”Muguruza may have won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, but she came to Melbourne Park as an unseeded player at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in six years.