Rafael Nadal Surpasses Martina Navratilova on All-Time Grand Slam Match Victories List

Rafael Nadal is moving on up…

The 36-year-old Spanish professional tennis player has advanced to the third round of Wimbledon for the 11th time after defeating Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.

Rafael NadalIt was Nadal’s 307th Grand Slam match win, advancing him past Martina Navratilova in fourth place on the all-time list, behind Roger Federer (369), Serena Williams (365) and Novak Djokovic (330).

“Not the best start honestly,” Nadal said of Thursday’s victory. “I finished playing well. The fourth set has been the level of tennis for me, important improvement. The rest of the things, I have room to improve.”

Nadal is looking for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title, and third Wimbledon trophy.

Rafael Nadal Defeats Casper Ruud to Claim 14th French Open Title

Rafael Nadal has officially reclaimed his King of Clay title…

The 36-year-old Spanish tennis star overwhelmed Casper Ruud in straight sets on Sunday to win his record-extending 14th French Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title.

Rafael NadalBut he revealed after the match that he needed an injection to his ailing left foot just to be able to play.

Nadal told Eurosport after his 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory that he received an injection to numb his foot for Sunday’s final.

“The preparation was not ideal,” he said. “I had a stress fracture of the rib, then I have the foot [pain], which stays there all the time. I had my doctor here with me — I don’t know how to say in English what we did. We played with no feeling on the foot, we played with an injection in the nerve so the foot was asleep — that’s why I was able to play.”

During the trophy ceremony, Nadal thanked his family and support team for helping him, because otherwise, he would have needed to “retire much before.”

“I don’t know what can happen in the future,” Nadal told the crowd, “but I’m going to keep fighting to try to keep going.”

Nadal revealed during his media availability after the match that he’d been undergoing frequent injections into a nerve throughout the past two weeks at Roland Garros, serving to numb the pain in his foot caused by Mueller-Weiss syndrome. It is not a long-term solution to the chronic foot problem, and he is expected to visit a specialist next week to undergo a fresh procedure — a radiofrequency nerve ablation.

The success of that procedure will dictate whether he plays Wimbledon or not.

“I’m going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon,” Nadal said. “That’s it. Wimbledon is not a tournament that I want to miss. I think nobody want to miss Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon.”

He said if the procedure doesn’t work, he’ll have to decide if he’s ready to undergo a major surgery with no guarantee that it will be successful and might require a prolonged recovery time.

But he did confirm he would not go through the whole process of getting injections daily to get him through Wimbledon.

“Wimbledon is a priority, always [has] been a priority. If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories? Yes. To play with anaesthetic injections? No. I don’t want to put myself in that position again. Can happen once, but no, is not a philosophy of life that I want to follow.

“So let’s see. I am always a positive guy, and I always expect things going the right way. So let’s be confident, and let’s be positive. Then let’s see what’s going on.”

Nadal’s victory came two days after his 36th birthday and made him the oldest title winner in the history of the clay-court tournament. The oldest champion in tournament history had been Andres Gimeno, who was 34 when he won in 1972.

Ruud led 3-1 in the second set, a deficit that spurred Nadal to raise his level — he took the last 11 games. Nadal’s six games lost Sunday are tied for his second fewest in a major final. He has won six major finals in which he has conceded fewer than 10 games, breaking a tie with Richard Sears for the most by any man in tennis history.

Given his age, and of more concern, the chronic pain in his left foot that has been an off-and-on problem for years, Nadal has said repeatedly in recent days that he can never be sure whether each match at Court Philippe Chatrier might be his last.

He played crisply and cleanly, accumulating more than twice as many winners as Ruud, 37 to 16. Nadal also committed fewer unforced errors, making just 16 to Ruud’s 26.

When it ended with a down-the-line backhand from Nadal, he chucked his racket to the red clay he loves so much and covered his face with the taped-up fingers on both of his hands.

The Spanish star’s first triumph in Paris came in 2005 at age 19. No man or woman ever has won the singles trophy at any major event more times than his 14 in Paris. And no man has won more Grand Slam titles than Nadal.

He is two ahead of rivals Roger Federer, who hasn’t played in almost a year after a series of knee operations, and Novak Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open in January because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

For all that he has accomplished already, Nadal now has done something he never managed previously: He is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam thanks to titles at the Australian Open and French Open in the same season.

Nadal improved to 14-0 in finals at Roland Garros and 112-3 overall at his favorite tournament.

“You are a true inspiration for me, for everyone who follows tennis around the world,” said Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway participating in his first Grand Slam final, “so I hope — we all hope — that you will continue for some more time.”

When the players met at the net for the prematch coin toss, the first chants of “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!” rang out in the 15,000-seat stadium. There would be more such choruses. Ruud heard his own support, especially when he briefly went up in the second set, with some in the stands marking points he won with drawn-out pronouncements of his last name, “Ruuuuuuud,” that sounded as if they might be booing.

Ruud considers Nadal his idol. He recalls watching all of Nadal’s past finals in Paris on TV. He has trained at Nadal’s tennis academy in Mallorca.

They have played countless practice sets together there with nothing more at stake than bragging rights. Nadal usually won those, and Ruud joked the other day that’s because he was trying to be a polite guest.

The two had never met in a real match until Sunday, when a championship, money, ranking points, prestige and a piece of history were on the line. And Nadal demonstrated, as he has so often, why he’s known as the King of Clay — and among the game’s greatest ever.

“We all know what a champion you are, and today I got to feel how it is to play against you in a final. And it’s not easy,” Ruud said. “I’m not the first victim. I know that there have been many before.”

Nadal can now place this latest Coupe des Mousquetaires alongside the trophies he gathered at Roland Garros from 2005 to ’08, 2010 to ’14 and 2017 to ’20. He has also won the US Open four times and the Australian Open and Wimbledon twice apiece.

“For me, personally, it’s very difficult to describe the feelings that I have,” Nadal said. “It’s something that I, for sure, never believed — to be here at 36, being competitive again, playing in the most favorite court of my career, one more time in the final. It means a lot to me. Means everything.”

Rafael Nadal Edges Past Novak Djokovic to Reach French Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to reclaiming his throne…

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star, known as the King of Clay, claimed a quarterfinal victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic that began in May and ended in June at Roland Garros.

Rafael NadalWith a mix of brilliant shot-making and his trademark resilience, Nadal got past the top-seeded defending French Open champion Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to move a step closer to his 14th championship at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament and what would be a 22nd major trophy overall, adding to records that he already owns.

“One of those magic nights for me,” Nadal said.

The match began a little past 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, and concluded more than four hours later, after 1 a.m. Wednesday, June 1.

The bracket said this was a quarterfinal, but it felt like a final — from the quality of play to the quality of effort, from the anticipation that preceded it to the atmosphere that enveloped it.

The only missing ingredient: There was no trophy handed to the winner.

Nadal turns 36 on Friday, when he’ll face third-seeded Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. When the subject of Nadal’s future was brought up during his on-court interview, he smiled.

“See you, by the way, in two days,” Nadal said. “That’s the only thing that I can say.”

It’ll be difficult for any match the rest of the way to live up to this one.

“I lost to a better player today,” said Djokovic, who had won 22 sets in a row until the 49-minute opener against Nadal. “Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it.”

This showdown was their 59th, more than any other two men have played against each other in the Open era. Nadal narrowed Djokovic’s series lead to 30-29 while improving to 8-2 against his rival at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 110-3 for his career at the place. Two of those losses came against Djokovic, including in last year’s semifinals. This time, Nadal made sure Djokovic remains behind him in the Slam count with 20. Nadal broke their three-way tie with Roger Federer at that number by capturing the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic was not able to play because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Carlos Alcaraz Upsets World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Reach Madrid Open Final

Carlos Alcaraz’s stellar season continues as his list of victims keeps growing…

One day after defeating his idol Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open, the 19-year-old Spanish tennis phenom rallied to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Carlos Alcaraz Alcaraz outlasted Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in a semifinal match that lasted more than 3½ hours on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final.

“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said. “Despite the tension, despite being the semifinals, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker … I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”

Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court event. He converted his third match point in front of a raucous home crowd on the Caja Mágica center court.

“It’s a spectacular feeling right now,” Alcaraz said. “I’m very excited to be able to play these kind of matches, to be able to beat Rafa yesterday, to be able to beat the No. 1 today.”

A win on Sunday will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player in 2022.

He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The second-seeded German player converted three of his five break opportunities to clinch the victory in nearly two hours in match that ended after 1 a.m. local time.

Alcaraz, the youngest player in the top 10 since Nadal in 2005, has won this year in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

Carlos Alcaraz Earns Landmark Win Over Idol Rafael Nadal at Madrid Open

Carlos Alcaraz has taken out his idol…

In a clash of generations, the 19-year-old Spanish teenage tennis sensation overcame an injury to defeat his idol Rafael Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Friday.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz recovered from a bad ankle twist early in the second set to earn his first victory against the 21-time Grand Slam champion, marking what could be the beginning of a changing of the guard in Spanish tennis.

Alcaraz considered by many in Spain as Nadal’s successor will play his first Madrid semifinal against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who eased past Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s obvious there is [a change in guard],” Nadal said. “He turned 19 yesterday, I’m almost 36 years old. If [the change] begins today or not, we will find out in the next months. I’m happy for him. He was better than me in several aspects of the game.”

It was Nadal’s first loss to a Spanish competitor in six years, since falling to Fernando Verdasco at the 2016 Australian Open. He had a 138-21 record against his countrymen entering the match against Alcaraz.

“It means a lot to me to beat Rafa, to beat the best player in the history on clay,” Alcaraz said. “This is the result of all the hard work I’ve done.”

Still far from his best form after a six-week injury layoff, Nadal predicted a hard time keeping up with the energy of Alcaraz. And he was right early on, as the youngster overpowered him to easily win the first set with three breaks.

But Alcaraz lost momentum after needing medical attention for the ankle, losing 20 of the next 22 points as Nadal cruised through the second set.

The match also was interrupted in the second set after a fan became ill in the stands of the Caja Mágica center court.

Both players got off to a great start this season as they seek their fourth title of the year, which would be the most on tour.

Nadal’s run was hampered by a rib stress fracture suffered in his semifinal win against Alcaraz in Indian Wells. His other win against the ninth-ranked Alcaraz came in Madrid last year, when the youngster was just starting to attract everyone’s attention.

Nadal saved four match points to get past David Goffin in a third-round match that lasted more than three hours on Thursday.

He said it was a positive balance for him after winning two matches following his injury layoff.

“It’s an easy loss to digest in that regard, because we knew what we could expect here,” Nadal said. “My only dream is (to) be in Paris (for the French Open) healthy enough and physically good enough to compete at the highest level possible.”

Carlos Alcaraz Enters Top 10 in ATP Rankings After Claiming Barcelona Open Title

It’s a new high for Carlos Alcaraz

The 18-year-old Spanish tennis phenom has moved up to No. 9 in the ATP rankings, a little more than a month before he turns 19.

Carlos AlcazarThat makes Alcaraz the youngest man to break into the Top 10 since Rafael Nadal did it exactly 17 years ago.

Alcaraz rose two spots after winning the Barcelona Open on Sunday. He beat compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

At 18 years, 11 months and 20 days old, Alcaraz is the ninth-youngest man to reach the top 10 since the computer rankings began in 1973. His fellow Spaniard Nadal was about a month younger when he climbed into the top 10 on April 25, 2005, after a title on Barcelona’s clay.

The youngest man to crack that elite level on the ATP Tour was Aaron Krickstein, who was 11 days past his 17th birthday when he made his debut in the Top 10 in August 1984.

Alcaraz is tied with Nadal for the most ATP titles in 2022 with three; his 23 match wins are second behind only Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has 24 victories this season.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 after finishing as the runner-up to Andrey Rublev in the Serbia Open, with Daniil Medvedev still at No. 2, Alexander Zverev at No. 3 and Nadal at No. 4.

Nadal, owner of a men’s-record 21 Grand Slam singles championships, has been in the top 10 every week since he first got there.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Defeats Grigor Dimitrov to Reach First ATP Final of His Career at Monte Carlo Masters

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has reached his first ATP final…

The 22-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, reached his first ATP final by beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3 at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaThe unseeded Davidovich Fokina took the first set from Dimitrov with ease, but squandered the chance at 5-4 in the second to take the semifinal in straight sets. The third set was tense. Davidovich Fokina overcame a break and 2-0 down.

“I pushed myself to the limit,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’m glad that I pushed myself to that.”

He will try to prevent Stefanos Tsitsipas from becoming the first repeat Monte Carlo champion since Rafael Nadal in 2018.

Tsitsipas breezed into the Monte Carlo Masters final after dispatching second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

Tsitsipas has a 2-0 record against him, including in February in the Netherlands.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Pulls Off Upset Win Against Novak Djokovic at Monte Carlo Masters

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is celebrating an upset…

The 22-year-old Spanish professional tennis player pulled off a stunning victory against Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaDavidovich Fokina stunned the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 in the second round to hand Djokovic another setback as he tries to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It makes for rare back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not played since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February — his only previous tournament this year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the start as the 46th-ranked Spaniard broke him early to pull ahead 4-1 before another break handed him the first set. Davidovich Fokina kept up the pressure and led 3-0 in the second before Djokovic clawed back. But the Serb continued to struggle on his serve and was broken three times in the decider.

“He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match.”

The Serb said he was too exhausted to put up a fight in the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic said. “I just ran out of gas completely … If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”

Djokovic had beaten Davidovich Fokina in straight sets twice last year, in Rome and at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the country for not being vaccinated. He had to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami because he couldn’t travel to the United States for the same reason.

The authorities in France and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions last month, allowing people who aren’t vaccinated into the country and back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

That means Djokovic will be able to play at the French Open, which remains his “big goal of the clay season.”

“I knew that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” Djokovic said. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

The French Open starts on May 22 in Paris.

In the meantime, Davidovich Fokina is moving on to the Round of 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Rafael Nadal Starts Season with Impressive 18-0 Record

Rafael Nadal is still finding ways to impress after all these years…

Nursing a nagging foot injury, the 35-year-old Spanish professional tennis player became only the second player in ATP Tour history to start a season 18-0.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal edged past Reilly Opelka 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) on Wednesday in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Only Novak Djokovic has gotten off to better starts since 1990. The Serb went 26-0 to begin 2020 and 41-0 to open 2011.

“I can’t say it’s a dream because I even couldn’t dream about that three months ago, two months ago,” Nadal said. “I am just enjoying every single moment.”

Last year, Nadal’s playing time was interrupted by COVID-19 and injuries, creating doubt about his ability to recover well enough to maintain his exacting standards. But he won his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and has continued on a tear.

“I am just very happy to be playing tennis,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June. “Today was a little bit worse than other days. It’s true that the last couple of days the foot has been bothering me a little bit more.”

Nadal has already withdrawn from the Miami Open that follows Indian Wells. He wants extra time to prepare for the clay court season that isn’t as punishing as hard courts.

Nadal rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the second set to lead 6-5. Opelka held after three deuces when Nadal netted a forehand chasing the American’s drop shot to force the second tiebreaker.

Nadal led 4-1 in the tiebreaker when Opelka struggled on his service returns. On his serve, though, the 6-foot-11 American closed to 4-3, hitting winners on a drop shot and a forehand.

Again on his serve, Opelka closed to 6-5.

But Nadal closed it out by pulling Opelka out of the court and the American’s backhand landed wide.

“It’s about trying to hit balls that you don’t take a lot of risks, but at the same time don’t allow him to go in and go for the shot,” Nadal said. “Is trying to find the right balance between these two things.”

There were no service breaks in the first set. Opelka fought off the only break point in the seventh game with a smash and forehand winner. Nadal held at love for 6-all, forcing the tiebreaker. Opelka led 3-2 with a forehand winner down the line. Nadal won the next five points, all on errors by Opelka, to take the set.

Nadal improved to 19-0 against American opponents since losing to John Isner at the 2017 Laver Cup.

 

Nadal, a three-time champion in the desert, advanced to the quarterfinals against wild-card Nick Kyrgios. The Australian advanced to his first ATP Tour quarterfinal since winning Washington in 2019 after 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner withdrew because of illness.

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.