Facundo Díaz Acosta Defeats Nicolas Jarry at Argentina Open to Claim First-Ever ATP Tour Singles Title

Facundo Díaz Acosta’s wild(card) ride has come to a triumphant end…

The 23-year-old Argentine professional tennis player, a wildcard at the Argentina Open, won his maiden ATP Tour singles title on Sunday by beating Chile’s Nicolás Jarry 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the clay-court tournament.

Facundo DiazThe ATP said that Diaz Acosta became only the second left-handed champion — after Rafael Nadal — at the Buenos Aires tournament.

Díaz Acosta began the week with a career-high ranking of 87. He’s set to rise to No. 59 when the rankings are released Monday.

“This is yet to sink in,” Díaz Acosta told raucous fans. “I have dreamed about this moment for a long time, working with my team and having my family to back me. It is a dream come true that this happened in Argentina.”

Third-seeded Jarry was chasing his fourth ATP title.

Díaz Acosta’s victory was easier than expected against Jarry, who struggled to compete after beating defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals.

Alcaraz is now set to compete at the Rio Open in Brazil, also on clay, which he won in 2022

Rafael Nadal to Play in “6 Kings Slam” Exhibition Event in Saudi Arabia

Rafael Nadal is headed to the Middle East this fall.

The 37-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, the former World No. 1, is set to play in an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia in October, the kingdom’s latest move into tennis.

Rafael NadalNadal will be joined by Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, new Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune in what’s being touted as the “6 Kings Slam” in Riyadh.

All but Rune have won at least one Grand Slam title. Djokovic holds the men’s record with 24, followed by Nadal with 22. Alcaraz has two, and Sinner and Medvedev one apiece.

Nadal was recently announced as an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation.

The ATP men’s tour moved its annual tournament for leading players who are 21 and under to Jedda, and the WTA women’s tour is in negotiations to put its season-ending championship in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has pumped huge amounts of money into sports, such as soccer, Formula One, boxing and golf, with critics accusing the country of using its Public Investment Fund to engage in sportswashing over its human rights record, including the treatment of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The kingdom denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security through its laws.

Rafael Nadal’s 2007 French Open Tennis Racket Sells for $118K in Auction

One of Rafael Nadal‘s title-winning rackets is a hot item…

The 37-year-old Spanish professional tennis player and former World No. 1’s racket from his 2007 French Open final victory over Roger Federer was sold for more than $118,000 at an auction Monday, ranking among the highest-priced memorabilia.

Rafael NadalNadal beat Federer 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the 2007 final at Roland Garros with the Babolat AeroPro Drive racket to win his third Grand Slam title before the Spaniard moved on to secure 19 more — 14 of them in Paris– to become one of the sport’s greatest players.

The racket, which Nadal also used in previous matches at the tournament, including his semifinal victory against Novak Djokovic, sold for $118,206 at an online auction, Prestige Memorabilia‘s The Tennis Auction, that closed on Monday.

Rafael Nadal 2007 French Open Racket

It was previously housed in the Australian Tennis Museum prior to its recent closure.

Previous highest individual tennis racket auction sales include Nadal’s 2022 Australian Open racket ($139,700), Billie Jean King‘s “Battle of the Sexes” racket ($125,000) and Djokovic’s 2016 French Open racket ($107,482).

Nadal missed the recent Australian Open this month after suffering a small muscle tear during his comeback from a long injury layoff at the Brisbane International earlier in January.

He, however, is set to return on the court in February during the ATP 250 tournament in Doha.

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.

Rafael Nadal Advances to Quarterfinals at Brisbane International with Dominant Win

Rafael Nadal’s return to competitive tennis play continues…

When the 37-year-old Spanish tennis star faced three break points while serving for a commanding first set on Thursday, a voice in the crowd at the Brisbane International yelled out to Jason Kubler: “You’ve got him worried now!”

Rafael NadalIt was a fleeting concern for the 22-time Grand Slam winner in his second match back from a yearlong injury layoff.

Nadal won the next five points to seal the set, broke at love to open the second set and consolidated by holding his own serve easily to put him on course for a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Kubler and a spot in the quarterfinals.

“Every day is an adventure,” Nadal said. “I take every day like an opportunity, and tomorrow is another one.”

Nadal is playing on a wild card after his ranking slipped into the 600s as he recovered from hip surgery, and he is desperate for match time ahead of the Australian Open this month.

Regaining the mental and muscle memory of navigating difficult game scenarios is on his must-do list this week.

“It’s important to survive these kind of moments because you practice the adversity,” Nadal said. “Something I need to practice again because [it’s] been a while, a long time, without being in that position.”

Nadal’s first competitive match since January last year was a win Tuesday against 2020 US Open champion and former No. 3-ranked Dominic Thiem. He was more convincing against Kubler, a hometown favorite who is ranked 63rd after a career interrupted by multiple operations on his knees.

“It means a lot to me,” Nadal said, “and two victories after a long time being outside of the professional tour is something that, yeah, makes me feel good and happy.”

Nadal had 20 winners, including some ripping forehands, and eight unforced errors. As well as his powerful groundstrokes and dominant serve, he hit volleys, half-volleys and overheads. He scrambled to chase drop shots and covered the baseline without any visible signs of the injury.

He lost only one point in his first three service games — a double-fault on the second point of the match. But he was also able to dig himself out of a hole when he needed it at 5-1.

The only blip for Nadal was a warning for a time violation for taking too long in a locker-room break between sets. He shrugged it off, saying it was so humid he needed to change his clothing and he thought he was on time. He promised he would work on changing faster.

Nadal said the hip was “not bothering me at all,” and he is not having any issues with his long-term foot problem.

He will play another Australian, Jordan Thompson, in the quarterfinals Friday. Thompson got a walkover when fourth-seeded Ugo Humbert withdrew from their second-round match because of illness.

Marc Anthony Buys E1 Electric Powerboating Team in Miami

It’s smooth racing for Marc Anthony

The 55-year-old Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and actor has expanded his sport-related empire by becoming the owner of the new E1 electric race boat championship Team Miami.

Marc-AnthonyAnthony, a minority owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and owner of the artists and athletes agency Magnus Media, joins a star-studded line-up of E1 team owners that includes Tom Brady, Rafael Nadal, Steve Aoki, Sergio Perez, Didier Drogba and Virat Kohli.

Their respective teams will compete in the first-ever E1 event next February 2-3 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. E1 is the first electric raceboat championship sanctioned by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), the world governing body of powerboating, and promotes a racing series powered solely by electric, and based on clean technologies to protect our waters and coastal areas.

Marc Anthony, E1, Team MiamiIn addition to owning the new team, Anthony and Magnus will also host E1 in the U.S in a 2025 Miami event that will include races, the Acceleration Festival fan village and a star-studded live concert.

“It is going to be a couple of days of culture, entertainment, style, sexiness, just the right amount of danger,” says Anthony in a video released on Monday (December 18). “It’s a blank canvas. I’m making every phone call. I’m starting now for what’s going to happen in 2025.”

While Anthony is first and foremost a music star, he has stakes in many ventures, including a minority ownership in the NFL’s Dolphins. That experience in particular has helped him understand the intricacies of running a team and provided him with the macro view of launching a championship and making the experience as “exhilarating” as possible, he says.

“It wasn’t only just owning the Miami Dolphins,” he says in the announcement video. “It was the stadium and the 300 acres around it. I see it the same way. I’m interested in finding a way that the race experience […]is as eventful as possible and quality and hair-raising.”

Felipe Pimiento, COO of Magnus added: “This is a very exciting venture for us at Magnus. It continues to solidify our footprint in the sports world at various levels.” Anthony joins a list of hugely influential owners that E1’s founders hope will help amplify E1 presence and awareness.

“E1’s list of owners exemplifies how our championship’s strategy is leading the way in sport marketing, and we are thrilled to have Marc join our roster of global icons,” says Rodi Basso, CEO and co-founder of E1.

“It’s a great sign for the future of E1 that we are already speaking about our season 2 destinations, and with Marc bringing our championship to Miami, I could think of no finer place for E1 to make its United States debut,” adds Alejandro Agag, Chairman and co-founder of E1.

Carlos Alcaraz Wins ATP Awards’ Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Carlos Alcaraz is officially a great sport…

The 20-year-old Spanish professional tennis player has won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Carlos AlcarazThe award, which Alcaraz earned a year after becoming the youngest No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings, recognizes fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court.

“I’m so happy to win the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award,” said Alcaraz. “I’m especially happy that it’s an award chosen by my colleagues on the circuit. It means a lot to me, so thank you all very much.”

Alcaraz becomes the fourth Spaniard to receive the prestigious ATP Awards honor, joining Jose Higueras (1983), Alex Corretja (1996, 1998) and five-time winner Rafael Nadal (2010, 2018-21).

He has now won three player-voted ATP Awards, receiving Newcomer of the Year in 2020 and Most Improved in 2022.

Rafael Nadal & Carlos Alcaraz to Headline Netflix’s Live Tennis Event “The Netflix Slam”

Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are heading to Netflix for a special slam…

The 37-year-old Spanish tennis superstar and the 20-year-old Spanish tennis phenom will headline The Netflix Slam, the streaming services tennis match.

Rafael Nadal, Carlos AlcarazNadal and Alcaraz will take part in the event on Sunday, March 3, 2024, as it streams live from Las Vegas, where it will take place at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

It’s the latest live event for the company after The Netflix Cup, a live golf event featuring folks froms Drive to Survive and Full Swing.

The Netflix Slam will be produced by Full Day Productions. Full Day produced The Netflix Cup.

The event will stream live as a dual broadcast for English and Spanish audiences.

There will be additional games as well as the Alcaraz and Nadal matchup.

“I’m honored and so happy to be sharing the court with Rafa in Las Vegas,” Alcaraz said. “He’s an all-time great, of course, and his records and achievements speak for themselves.”

“I’m very excited for my first visit to Las Vegas,” Nadal added. “I’m also very excited to be playing with my fellow countryman Carlos Alcaraz. I am sure it will be a fantastic night of tennis.”

Rafael Nadal to Return to Competitive Play at Next Month’s Brisbane International

Rafael Nadal will be holding court in January…

The 37-year-old Spanish tennis superstar will return to competitive play at Australia’s Brisbane International in January, the 22-time Grand Slam champion revealed Friday.

Rafael Nadal“After a year of not competing, it is time to come back,” Nadal said in a video posted on social media. “It will be in Brisbane in the first week of January. See you there.”

Nadal has not played on tour since last January, when he hurt his hip flexor during a loss in the second round of the Australian Open.

In May, a little more than a week before the start of the French Open, Nadal announced that he would miss the tournament he’s won a record 14 times and wasn’t exactly sure when he might return to play.

Nadal had said then that he hoped to compete in 2024, which he expected to be his final season.

“You never know how things will turn out,” Nadal said at a news conference at the time, “but my intention is that next year will be my last year.”

He wound up having arthroscopic surgery in June in Barcelona.

Dating to the end of 2022, the Spanish left-hander has lost seven of his past nine matches, including going 1/3 this season.

Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam singles titles rank second to Novak Djokovic‘s 24 for the most among men.

Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Daniil Medvedev to Advance to Semifinals at ATP Finals

Carlos Alcaraz has advanced to his first ATP Finals semifinals…

The 20-year-old Spanish tennis player beat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to secure a spot in the semifinals of the ATP Finals in his tournament debut, setting up a match against top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Carlos Alcaraz “It’s one of the most difficult challenges that I’m going to face, facing Novak in the ATP Finals, where he has won six times,” Alcaraz said. “Novak is Novak. He is the best player in the world right now. He’s lost just six matches this year. He’s unbelievable.”

Alcaraz and Djokovic have played each other four times and won two each. Djokovic won their most recent encounter in the final in Cincinnati in August, while Alcaraz was victorious in the Wimbledon final.

“I’m going to play my best tennis and enjoy it the same way I did the past few matches,” Alcaraz said. “I’m excited to face Novak.”

Alcaraz is the youngest ATP Finals semifinalist since Rafael Nadal in 2006.

After missing last year’s tournament because of an abdominal injury, Alcaraz got off to a shaky start at the season-ending event for the year’s top eight players.

He lost his opening match to two-time champion Alexander Zverev before getting back on track with a straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev.

That left him needing to beat Medvedev, who had already qualified for the semifinals, to advance. The Russian player didn’t make it easy.

Medvedev had two break points in the fourth game, but Alcaraz came out on top of a 33-shot rally and then produced another big serve before going on to hold.

In the seventh game, Alcaraz broke Medvedev to love for the lead. He then held three set points but needed only one to take the opener with a powerful, crosscourt backhand.

After wasting two break points in the third game of the second set, Alcaraz got the decisive break when Medvedev double-faulted to allow him to serve for the match.

“This match was really, really tough … but everything I did before this match I did almost perfectly so I’m really happy,” Alcaraz said.

With Alcaraz advancing, the top four players in the world have qualified for the semifinals. Medvedev will face Jannik Sinner. Since the ATP formed in 1990, it’s the fourth time the top four players all reached the semifinals at the ATP Finals, along with 1990, 2004 and 2020.