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 Soundly Defeats Alexander Zverev to Claim Madrid Open Title

Carlos Alcaraz continues to impress, as he proves he belongs among the best.

The 19-year-old Spanish tennis phenom wrapped up another impressive week with a straight-set victory over Alexander Zverev on Sunday to win the Madrid Open and become the second-youngest player to win two Masters 1000 titles.

Carlos AlcarazHis comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Zverev followed victories over his idol Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

“Last year I was going through these experiences for the first time, playing against the best players, playing in the Masters 1000, and I learned a lot,” Alcaraz said. “Now it’s different. I go onto the court knowing that I can win, with the confidence that I can win at any moment.”

Alcaraz became the youngest winner in Madrid, and the second youngest to win two Masters 1000 trophies after Nadal won in Monte Carlo and Rome in 2005 as an 18-year-old. Alcaraz had already become the youngest to enter the top 10 since Nadal did it in 2005.

“It feels great to be able to beat these players,” Alcaraz said. “To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world No. 3. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life.”

Carlos AlcarazIt was the seventh straight win over a top-10 player for Alcaraz, and his tour-leading fourth title of the year. He also has the most wins this season with 28, one more than Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Alcaraz tried to downplay the hype about whether he’s the best player right now, though.

“Djokovic is the No. 1 in the ranking,” he said. “It’s not because I won in Barcelona and beat Djokovic and Rafa in Madrid that I will consider myself the best player in the world. Also, I think I’m going to be No. 6 tomorrow, so I still have five players in front of me to be the best one.”

For Zverev, who was trying to win his second consecutive Madrid title – and third overall – there was no doubt about who was playing the best tennis.

“Right now you are the best player in the world,” Zverev said before the trophy ceremony and joked about his opponent’s age. “Even though you are still 5 years old, you are still beating us all, so great to see for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win many Grand Slams, who is going to be No. 1 and is going to win this tournament many times.”

Alcaraz had won his first Masters 1000 tournament in Miami earlier this year. He had also won in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona. His first career title came in Umag last year.

Alcaraz’s three losses this season came against Sebastian Korda in Monte Carlo, Nadal in Indian Wells and Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open.

After long three-set wins over Nadal and Djokovic, the seventh-seeded Alcaraz kept his high energy from the start against Zverev and was in control throughout the match at the Caja Mágica center court.

He didn’t face any break points and converted four of the eight he had against the second-seeded Zverev. Alcaraz had 11 unforced errors compared to 25 by Zverev.

“I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically,” Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz said he had been worried about his condition after waking up with an infected blister and a swollen right ankle, which he injured in the win against Nadal on Friday.

Alcaraz said it was special to win in Madrid, where he first started watching tennis at an early age.

“Watching Rafa lift this trophy gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment,” Alcaraz said. “It is a great moment for me. It is the first tournament I watched, so lifting the trophy today is so emotional.”

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.

Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Pablo Carreno Busta to Claim Third ATP Title of Year at Barcelona Open

Carlos Alcaraz continues to prove he’s the future of tennis…

In a young career full of great moments, the 18-year-old Spanish tennis phenom wrote another unforgettable chapter on Sunday in Barcelona.

Carlos AlcazarThe fifth seed defeated his compatriot, mentor and eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 to win the Barcelona Open.

Alcaraz, who has now won three titles this season, is projected to climb to No. 9 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, making him the youngest player to crack the Top 10 since Rafael Nadal did it exactly 17 years ago after lifting his first Barcelona trophy.

“It means a lot. I’ve watched this tournament since I was a kid. I always wished to play in this tournament and of course to be able to win this tournament,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “I’m really, really happy to be part of the [historic] Spanish list.”

Plenty of Spanish legends have won the Barcelona title, including NadalJuan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya.

Alcaraz, Nadal and Sunday’s Serbia Open champion Andrey Rublev lead the ATP Tour this season with three titles each.

“I’ve always been a normal guy. I’m not scared of fame,” Alcaraz said. “I’m not going to change the person I am. I’m happy to know that at 18 years old I’m in the Top 10, and to do it [at] the same age as my idol Rafa is impressive.”

Although the scoreline of the final looks straightforward, the day was anything but.

The semifinals were pushed to Sunday because of rain, and the 18-year-old needed three hours and 40 minutes to defeat Alex de Minaur in the longest best-of-three match of the season.

In that clash, the Aussie had two match points to win in straight sets. On one of those match points, de Minaur had a short forehand with the court open, but allowed Alcaraz a look at a passing shot, which the teen delivered perfectly.

The #NextGenATP star showed no fatigue in the final, overwhelming Carreno Busta, who is like Alcaraz’s older brother, in one hour and six minutes. Both Spaniards train at the JC Ferrero Equelite Sport Academy and Carreno Busta’s coach, Samuel Lopez, used to coach Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

During the trophy ceremony, Alcaraz and Carreno Busta even sat on the same bench as they waited to be called up.

So although this was the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, they were plenty familiar with one another. Alcaraz’s power controlled the action and he did not face a break point, while converting four of his 10 break chances to triumph.

“When my semifinal match finished, I rested, ate and I did my routine,” Carreno Busta said. “As we share team members, we do similar routines and we have coincided in some moments. We are friends first and we have to respect that.”

Earlier in the day, Carreno Busta defeated sixth seed Diego Schwartzman in straight sets. But he was unable to find the same consistency against his countryman, missing a forehand long at 2-2 to relinquish the first break of the match and a short backhand on set point to give up another service break.

It was clear Carreno Busta had to go for more to try to match Alcaraz’s weight of shot, but he was never able to find enough of a rhythm to trouble his younger opponent.

“It wasn’t the match I expected,” Carreno Busta said. “Carlos was playing a very aggressive game this afternoon and he was very effective. It was very difficult play against him today.”

One year ago in Barcelona, then-World No. 119 Alcaraz lost in the first round against Frances Tiafoe in straight sets. Now he is the tournament winner.

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.

Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Defending Champion Hubert Hurkacz to Reach Miami Open Final

Carlos Alcaraz is one win away from history…

The 18-year-old Spanish tennis player ended the 10-match tournament winning streak of defending champion Hubert Hurkacz to advance to the final at the Miami Open on Friday evening to reach his first ATP Masters 1000.

Carlos AlcarazWith his 7-6(5), 7-6(2) victory, Alcaraz has reached the biggest final of his young career, going one better than his semifinal run at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

“I have a lot of emotions right now. It’s something that you dream of when you are a child,” said Alcaraz, who is one win away from becoming the youngest champion in the tournament’s 37-year history. “It’s really good to be in the final here in Miami. I love playing here. The crowd is amazing. I’m going to approach the final like a first round, trying to mask the nerves. I’m going to enjoy it, it’s going to be a great final.”

Alcaraz trailed 3/5 in the opening-set tiebreak, but repeated his heroics from Thursday’s quarterfinal win against Miomir Kecmanovic by winning four straight points to close it out.

After erasing two break points at 5-all in the second set — taking his tournament total to 15 of 17 break points saved — Alcaraz controlled the second tie-break with help from some untimely Hurkacz errors. A drop shot at 5/2 set up match point, and a dipping pass attempt forced a volley into the net to close out the match.

“I couldn’t return his serves, but I knew that the match was going to be long sets like it was, 7-6, 7-6,” said Alcaraz, who dropped deep with his return positioning, in contrast to his previous matches. “At the beginning, I saw that I couldn’t return. I thought we were going to play a lot of tiebreaks… A little bit different [than my previous matches] with his serve, but it’s a great win for me.”

Hurkacz tallied one more winner than Alcaraz on the night, 23 to 22, but gave up that advantage by committing 37 unforced errors in the match. Early in the second set, the frustrated Pole shouted to his coach: “I can’t do my backhand.”

But this was far from a standard matchup of baseline blasts as both men attacked the net with regularity, a total of 47 times between them, with both posting a 70 per cent win rate. Alcaraz also hit 16 drop shots in the match, winning 11 of those points (69 per cent).

In a match that did not see a break of serve, both men saved three break points, with each coming up clutch to fight off a pair when serving at 5-all. After failing to convert late in the first, Alcaraz provided a moment of good sportsmanship by offering to replay a point as he served at 5-6, 30/0 after an incorrect “not up” call. Hurkacz applauded the gesture but was not able to get a look in the service game.

“Definitely he’s playing insane for his age,” Hurkacz said following the match. “It’s really incredible how he plays, how he competes… He has an amazing career in front of him. It’s crazy how good he plays.”

By reaching the final, Alcaraz moves up to third place in the ATP Race to Turin, with an opportunity to move up to second with the title. The World No. 16 improves to 6-6 against the Top 10, having won the opening set in all six of his victories and lost the opener in all six defeats

He’ll face Casper Ruud in the Sunday’s final following his 6-4, 6-1 win over Francisco Cerundolo.

Alcaraz is hoping to become the third-youngest man to win a title at this level, behind only Michael Chang (1990, Toronto) and Rafael Nadal (2005, Monte Carlo). He’s also the second-youngest finalist in Miami history, behind only Nadal, who lost the 2005 final to Roger Federer.

Alcaraz is projected to move up to a career-high of No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with his final run, and will reach No. 11 with the title.