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 Defeats Taylor Fritz to Win Mexican Open

Rafael Nadal has won his first title of the year…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star raced to victory in the Mexican Open on Saturday night, dispatching Taylor Fritz in straight sets in Acapulco.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal dropped his racquet, launched his arms in elation and looked up into the night after a 6-3, 6-2 triumph on a hard court against the overmatched 22-year-old American.

Nadal finished 63% in first serves and went 3-of-7 on break points. It was his third career title at the Mexican Open, having also won in 2005 and 2013. Overall, it was his 85th career championship, and the first of this season.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Nadal said. “I played a great event from the beginning to the end. Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing. I can’t thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.”

Fritz managed 10 aces in the loss, and had no double faults, yet couldn’t keep up with Nadal’s combination of efficiency and power.

“He’s one of the best players to ever play the game, and he showed me why that is tonight,” Fritz said. “This is one of my favorite tournaments to come to every year. I’m just glad that I could have a good week at one of my favorite events. I felt a lot of love all week.”

Beatriz Haddad Maia Defeats Sloane Stephens to Reach Mexican Open Quarterfinals

It’s a big take down byBeatriz Haddad Maia

The 22-year-old Brazilian tennis player, currently ranked No. 195 in the world, has defeated top seed Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals at the Mexican Open.

Beatriz Haddad Maia

It’s Haddad Maia’s first victory in seven career matches against players ranked in the top 10. 

The fourth-ranked Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, was making her first appearance in the event since winning the 2016 title.

“It was just a tough match, obviously she played well,” Stephens said. “A tough day. But I’m not too sad about it. I’m just going to go back and work some more, practice some more and get ready for Indian Wells.”

Haddad Maia will face Wang Yafan in the quarterfinals. Wang led Monica Puig4-1 when Puig retired because of an injury.

Ferrer Reaches Fifth Straight Quarterfinals at the Mexican Open

David Ferrer has extended his quarterfinals appearance streak at the Mexican Open.

The 31-year-old Spanish tenista, the tournament’s top seed, defeated his compatriot Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (1), 6-2 on Wednesday to advance to his fifth-straight quarterfinals at the Mexican tournament.

David Ferrer

Ferrer, trying to win his fourth title on Mexican soil, will next play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who eliminated American Sam Querrey,7-6 (2), 6-4.

Also Wednesday, Gilles Simon (6) of France beat Donald Young of the United States 6-4, 6-3, Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov downed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 and Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic defeated Dudi Sela of Israel 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Nadal Earns Second Comeback Title at the Mexican Open

And just like that Rafael Nadal has earned his second title of the year…

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star routed his fellow countryman David Ferrer 6-0, 6-2 in Saturday’s final of the Mexican Open in what proved to be a powerful performance that indicated he has quickly returned to form after a seven-month absence from the game due to knee injury.

Rafael Nadal

Ferrer, the Acapulco tournament’s top seed this year, was a three-time defending champion and had won 19 straight matches at this event. But the world’s No. 4 player could find no answer to Nadal, losing to his Spanish compatriot in only an hour and 5 minutes.

It’s Nadal’s second title in 2013, following his win at the Brazil Open. In his first tournament back was upset by Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos at the Chilean Open.

Nadal Considering Pulling Out of Indian Wells Tournament

Rafael Nadal may not be headed to The Golden State next week after all…

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star may pull out of next week’s tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., to show mercy on his frail knees from the hard courts, according to ESPN.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal said he loves the tournament, which he won in 2007 and 2009, but says he has to protect his knees and stay healthy for the European clay-court season, which ends with the French Open.

He didn’t say whether he would play at Key Biscayne, Fla., where he’s reached the final three times, after the Indian Wells tournament.

“My intention is to go to Indian Wells,” said Nadal after reaching the second round of the Mexican Open. “This is the truth because I love this tournament and the priority is to play. But if I don’t feel comfortable playing and decide to wait to play on the hard courts, that’s how it will be and I’ll rest for the clay-court season (in Europe). But today I can’t answer.”

Nadal has been critical of playing on hard courts, suggesting it has caused the knee injuries that are threatening his career. This month in Brazil, he said the ATP was not doing enough to protect players’ health, saying the increased number of tournaments on hard courts will lead to long-term injuries that will affect the players even after they retire.

“I said the truth. I don’t know if I’m going to go or not,” Nadal repeated. “It will depend on how I feel every day and every week.”

Nadal said the condition of his healing left knee, which caused him to take a seventh-month break from competition, was still day-to-day.

“Even when the knee is perfect I had some days better than others. Right now I have had three days in which the knee has felt fine and that makes me happy, that we’re going in the right direction,” Nadal said.

Nadal has so far restricted his comeback to events on softer clay. This month, he reached the final in Chile and won in Brazil.

Nadal Hires AMResorts to Operate His Two Mexican Hotels…

Could Rafael Nadal be the next Conrad Hilton?

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star, who recently won his first title since returning to competitive play after a seven-month absence, has confirmed that U.S.-based hotel management company AMResorts will operate two hotels he purchased in Cozumel.

Rafael Nadal
“I got to know this place a few years ago and I loved it,” said Nadal. “That’s why we invested in it; it’s also an island and there’s a connection with the place where I live as well, which is the (Spanish Mediterranean) island of Mallorca.”

Nadal, who arrived in Cozumel earlier in the week after winning a tournament in Sao Paulo – his second event after a seven-month hiatus due to a knee injury – confirmed in a press conference that his hotels will be managed by AMResorts, which is headed by Mexico’s Alejandro Zozaya.

“It’s nice to invest in a place where you really feel good. The possibility of investing here in Cozumel came up. I love nature, I love the sea, this is a natural paradise,” said the former world No. 1 and 11-time Grand Slam champion.

“In addition to the economic investment, it’s a nice, emotional investment for my future,” said Nadal, who will compete in next week’s Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Zozaya said Nadal’s Secrets Aura Cozumel hotel was remodeled at a cost of $14 million and will cater to high-end clientele and that the Sunscape Sabor Cozumel, also owned by the tennis star, will be ready in the second half of 2013.

Nadal Earns First Post-Injury Title…

Following an upset loss in Chile last weekend , Rafael Nadal is finally back in title-winning form after a seven-month injury-related hiatus…

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star defeated Argentina’s David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday in the finals of the Brazil Open to earn his first title since returning to competitive tennis this month.

Rafael Nadal
“I hope this will be the beginning of a good start,” Nadal told the crowd after the match, which included his father, Sebastian.

Nadal, currently ranked No. 5 in the world, rolled over Nalbandian, who is also mounting a comeback after a months-long absence from the ATP Tour, in the first set.

The win capped “a very beautiful week,” said Nadal, adding that he wanted to everyone who supported him during “these complicated times.”

Nalbandian played Nadal to 3-3 in the second set, but Nadal then stepped up his game and took total control of the match.

Rafael Nadal

The crowd at Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera arena went wild when Nadal won match point and threw his arms in the air.

Nadal, coming off a seven-month hiatus from the ATP Tour due to injury and illness, hadn’t been victorious at a tournament since last June, when he won his record seventh French Open title.

Nadal went off the ATP Tour due to a knee injury after suffering a shocking second-round loss at last year’s Wimbledon at the hands of unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol, in what’s considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the prestigious tournament.

He’d planned to return to action in late December in Abu Dhabi, but a stomach virus forced him to withdraw from that exhibition tournament and he also pulled out of the recently concluded Australian Open.

The Brazil Open is the second of three Latin American clay-court events Nadal signed up to play in February.

The Spanish star was upset in the final of Viña del Mar – his first tournament back – by Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos. He’s next scheduled to compete in the Mexican Open later this month.

Nadal Plans to Compete at Chile Open

Following a delayed return to competitive play, Rafael Nadal has set his sights on a Chilean comeback…

Chile Open organizers have announced that 26-year-old Spanish tenista plans to make his debut at the clay-court event in early February.

Rafael Nadal II

Nadal hasn’t played competitive tennis since last June, mainly due to tendinitis in his left knee. He’d planned to play in an Abu Dhabi exhibition event in late December, but he withdraw and skipped the Australian Open due to a stomach virus.

Nadal then planned to return in late February. But organizers of the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo have reported that he entered the tournament, which begins on February 11. He’s also signed up for the Mexican Open in Acapulco on February 25.

Nadal won the Brazil and Mexican titles the only time he entered them in 2005.

The Chile Open starts February 4 in Viña del Mar.

Ferrer Wins Mexican Open Title…

David Ferrer has claimed his third tournament title of the year in 2012…

The 29-year-old professional Spanish tennis player—currently ranked No. 5 in the world on the ATP rankings list—easily defended his title at the Mexican Open on Saturday, beating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

David Ferrer

Ferrer broke Verdasco twice in each set to take the match in just over an hour.

This marks Ferrer’s second title in as many weeks, following his victory last Sunday at the Copa Claro event in Buenos Aires. Ferrer won his first tournament of 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand at the Heineken Open.

With his performance at the Mexican Open, Ferrer has improved his 2012 record to 18-1—with his only loss coming to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.