Rafael Nadal Partners with Roger Federer in Laver Cup Doubles Win

Rafael Nadal has found an unlikely doubles partner…

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star joined forces with longtime rival Roger Federer to win a doubles match in the new Laver Cup on Saturday.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal Laver Cup

Nadal and Federer teamed up for the first time to defeat Sam Querrey and Jack Sock 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 in the team event between Europe and the rest of the world.

“It was unbelievable,” Nadal said.

The inaugural Laver Cup is taking place at Prague’s O2 Arena on an unusual black hard court.

Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych also form the European team.

John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe play for the world.

Europe needs two more victories from Sunday’s four games to win.

Nadal Advances to the Australian Open Quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal is still in contention for his second Australian Open title six years after his first…

The 28-year-old tennis star defeated Kevin Anderson on Sunday in straight sets on Sunday, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth-round, to advance to the quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open winner, turned around the first set — and ultimately the match — in the 11th and 12th games. Nadal fended off five break points to hold, and then broke the 6-foot-8 South African’s serve in the next game to go on a roll in his fourth-round encounter.

“Today was the best match so far this tournament, no doubt about that,” Nadal said. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable with my movements, with my forehand, so that’s the only way that I have any chance to have success on the tough matches ”

Nadal, who lost in the Australian Open finals in 2012 and last year, is coming off an extended injury layoff and says he’s building momentum as he goes — thankful he got through a tough five-setter in the second round against U.S. qualifier Tim Smyczek.

“The chance to be in the quarterfinals after a tough period of time for me is a fantastic result,” said Nadal. “I was playing better than the days before. I felt myself with better rhythm in the legs, better rhythm with my forehand. The way that I improved my level is not the most important thing; obviously the victory is.”

Nadal had to laugh in his last game as he tried to ignore a distraction when his water bottles — famously always precisely placed near the side of the court either for routine or superstition — tumbled over and a ball boy repositioned them.

“Seriously it’s not bothering me,” he said.

The third-seeded Nadal, who lost last year’s final to Stan Wawrinka, will play No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

Nadal has an 18-3 record over Berdych and hasn’t lost to the Czech player since 2006.

Ferrer Claims His 22nd Career Title at the Qatar Open

David Ferrer has earned his first title of 2015…

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis player beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the Qatar Open on Saturday to claim his 22nd career title.

David Ferrer

Ferrer, the tournament’s top seed, has now won at least one title in six consecutive years.

“The performance, it was very good,” said Ferrer , currently ranked No. 10 in the world. “I’m happy, because it never is easy to begin the season winning one tournament.”

Ferrer improved his record to 8-5 against Berdych, whose finals record slumped to 10-15.

Berdych was not surprised by the quality of play from Ferrer, a day after the Spaniard battled through three tiebreak sets against seventh-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the semifinals.

“First of all, David is never tired,” Berdych said. “Not after the match he played yesterday after two-and-a-half hours. I have seen him playing five hours and then he played the next day.”

Ferrer began the final by breaking the third-seeded Berdych in the first game, and raced to 4-1.

Berdych hadn’t dropped his serve in 34 service games through the semifinals, but surrendered four of eight service break opportunities to Ferrer.

In the second set, Berdych had three set points on Ferrer’s serve in the 10th game, but the Spaniard managed to hold for 5-5.

“In important points I got a little bit lucky,” Ferrer said. “I tried to be confident in the bad moments. I played very good in those moments.”

Ferrer received the advantage when Berdych double-faulted on a second break point he faced in the 11th game.

Gonzalez Exposes All for ESPN the Magazine’s The Body Issue

Omar Gonzalez may be a Major League Soccer star…But he’s also a major league stud. And, he’s not afraid to show it.

The 25-year-old Mexican-American soccer star, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, is one of the 22 world-class athletes featured in their birthday suits for the sixth annual edition of ESPN the Magazines The Body Issue.

Omar Gonzalez in the ESPN Magazine's The Body Issue

“I don’t really care how much you can lift in the gym,” says Gonzalez about exercise and weightlifting. “I think it’s funny that there are a lot of really buff guys out there. What is all that for? They are just strong for no reason. For me, I have to be strong for my sport, so I can compete at the highest level. I may not have been the biggest, but when it came down to playing, I shut people up.”

Omar Gonzalez in the ESPN Magazine's The Body Issue

Gonzalez, who admits to being horrible at pullups, says he’s not a show-off.

“I don’t have my shirt off whenever possible,” says Gonzalez. “I’m not one to really show myself off like that.

ESPN the Magazine’s The Body Issue, which hit newsstands on July 11, is the magazine’s annual celebration of the athletic form.

“We somehow manage to raise the bar each year,” said ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com editor in chief Chad Millman. “This year’s collection of exceptional athletes and stunning photography showcases an array of sports and body types. It inhabits our mission to pay tribute to these athletes’ bodies and all they are capable of.”

Omar Gonzalez in the ESPN Magazine's The Body Issue01

In addition to Gonzalez, a member of this year’s U.S. soccer team at the FIFA World Cup, the other athletes featured stark-naked in the issue include Olympic gold-medal-winning snowboarder Jamie Anderson, tennis players Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych, Olympic bronze-medal-winning bobsledder Aja EvansArizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, professional surfer Coco Ho, boxer Bernard Hopkins, cliff diver Ginger Huber, Olympic hockey player Hilary Knight, WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry and the husband-wife team of X Games stars Travis Pastrana and Lyn-Z, and Amy Purdy, a snowboarder who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympics.

In previous years, the magazine featured soccer star Carlos Bocanegra and professional baseball star Giancarlo Stanton.

Berlocq Upsets No. 1 Seed Tomas Berdych in the Portugal Open Men’s Final

It’s a two-one punch for Carlos Berlocq

Following his defeat of No. 2 seed Miles Raonic earlier in the tournament, the 31-year-old Argentine professional tennis player pulled off another upset, beating No. 1 seed Tomas Berdych in the Portugal Open men’s final.

Carlos Berlocq

After losing the first set, Berlocq stormed back to beat the Czech player, ranked No. 6 in the world, 0-6, 7-5, 6-1.

It’s the second career title for Berlocq, ranked No. 62 in the world. He won his first title in 2013 at the Swedish Open, defeating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the final.

Nadal Advances to Sony Open Men’s Final with Walkover

Rafael Nadal has advanced to the men’s final at the Sony Open… without breaking a sweat.

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, will meet Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after both their opponents pulled out of the semifinals in Miami.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal advanced without hitting a single ball after Tomas Berdych was laid low by gastroenteritis.

“I woke up at 7.30am with pain in my stomach,” said the Czech seventh seed.

Djokovic, the second seed, progressed when Japan’s Kei Nishikori withdrew from their match with a groin injury.

“I couldn’t move from side to side,” said the 20th seed. “I am disappointed about not getting a chance to play.”

Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 40th time on Sunday, with the Spaniard 22-17 ahead in their personal battle but having lost the last two encounters.

Nadal Survives Milos Raonic to Reach the Sony Open Semifinals

Despite a disappointing first set, Rafael Nadal is still in the running at the Sony Open in Miami.

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star advanced to the semifinals on Thursday by hitting a flurry of forehand winners in the late stretch to beat Canada’s Milos Raonic 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Rafael Nadal

The No. 1-ranked player in the world, who is 0-3 in the Key Biscayne tournament finals, needs one more win to get there again.

His opponent Friday night will be No. 7-seeded Tomas Berdych, who advanced by beating No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Nadal has beaten Berdych 16 times in a row over the past seven years.

“This tournament is a tournament where I really feel the love of the people so much,” Nadal said, “so I’m going to try my best to keep playing well.”

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic will play in the other semifinal Friday against No. 20-seeded Kei Nishikori, who eliminated Roger Federer on Wednesday.

Nadal Defeats Tomas Berdych to Reach the Western & Southern Open Final

He may be the third seed, but Rafael Nadal is playing like the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open.

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, has notched another victory, defeating sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-5, 7-6 (4) to reach the tournament final for the first time in nine appearances.

Rafael Nadal

“This is one tournament that I’ve never been able to play well, so it’s something special to play well in a place I never did in the past,” said Nadal, 3-0 in his career against John Isner, who he will face in the final. “I’m very happy for that. I am having the right feelings on court. I’m playing aggressive, and the crowd here is great.”

Nadal extended his personal winning streak against Berdych to 14 matches while improving his overall season record 52-3, including a 14-0 on the hardcourts. After winning at Montreal last week, Nadal will be making back-to-back appearances in hardcourt finals for the first time in his career.

He’s 15-1 against top-10 players this season.

Nadal Rallies Past Roger Federer to Reach Western & Southern Open Semis

Rafael Nadal has taken down the biggest rival of his career once again…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star rallied to beat his longtime rival Roger Federer, reaching the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday night.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory gives his record to 21-10 against former World No. 1 Federer, including wins in all three of their matches this season.

The close match came down to a few points, and Nadal got most of them.

“Always the emotion’s out there when we play each other,” Nadal said.

Nadal advances to play Tomas Berdych in the semifinals.

It’s been a summer of resurgence for Nadal. He missed the end of last season with a knee injury, but has gotten into one of the best surges of his career this season. He takes a career-best 51-3 mark into the semifinal, including a 14-1 record against Top 10 opponents.

Nadal Defeats Tomas Berdych to Reach Rome Masters Men’s Final

Rafael Nadal continues to shine in his post-injury return to competitive tennis…

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis superstar produced some of his best tennis at the Rome Masters on Saturday to earn his place in the finals.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal started the semi-final match on fire and finished strong to claim a 6-2, 6-4 win over Tomas Berdych.

In Sunday’s final, the six-time Rome champion will play his archrival Roger Federer, who defeated surprise semifinalist Benoit Paire of France 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in the night match.

Nadal was in absolute peak form in the first set, seizing control of almost every point with deep, accurate and heavily spun ground strokes.

And on the rare occasion when Berdych dictated play, the world No. 5 typically won the point anyway with  impressive defensive gems.

The second set was more evenly matched, but Berdych’s fate was virtually sealed when he lost his serve in the ninth game, and he was unable to mount a miracle comeback like the one he pulled off in Friday’s quarterfinals against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

“I played at a high level and everything went well with no mistakes. I was dominating the points and following to the net. I think I played one of my best matches since I am came back” Nadal said in a post-match interview, referring to his long injury layoff from July 2012 until early this year.

Nadal has made a miraculous return to the ATP Tour since recovering from a knee injury, reaching eight straight finals dating back to a small clay-court tournament in Viña del Mar, Chile, in February.

Nadal and Federer have played 29 times, with Nadal holding a 19-10 advantage. Sunday’s final will be their 15th meeting on clay, with Nadal holding a 12-2 advantage on his favorite surface.

Nadal can move up to No. 4 in the rankings – and avoid a possible quarterfinal matchup at the French Open against either Djokovic, Federer or Andy Murray – if he wins Sunday’s final, which will be the best of three sets.