Caroline Garcia Defeats Emma Raducanu to Reach Third Round at Wimbledon

Caroline Garcia is on to the next…

The 28-year-old half-Spanish tennis player ousted Emma Raducanu in the second round of women’s singles play at Wimbledon, beating the British No. 1 and reigning US Open champion 6-3, 6-3 in 86 minutes on Centre Court.

Caroline GarciaGarcia, ranked 55th in the world, gave Raducanu her third second-round loss in a row at this year’s Grand Slams.

Garcia proved to be too much for Raducanu, breaking her serve twice en route to winning the first set. Garcia then broke Raducanu’s serve to make it 3-2 in the second, only for Raducanu to break back in the next game. But the parity did not last long as Garcia broke Raducanu’s serve again in the following game and then held her own to go 5-3 up.

The crowd continued to get behind Raducanu as she went to serve to stay in the match, but Garcia needed only one match point to book her spot in the second round as she broke Raducanu’s serve for the fifth time.

For Garcia, this triumph means she’s started her Wimbledon single’s campaign with back-to-back victories over British hopefuls, after she needed three sets to get past Yuriko Miyazaki on Monday in the opening round.

Garcia, whose best record at a Slam was her quarterfinal finish in the 2017 French Open, now faces No. 33 seed Shuai Zhang in the third round on Friday.

Caroline Garcia Outlasts Bianca Andreescu at Bad Homburg Open to Win First WTA Title in Three Years

Caroline Garcia is back in the winner’s circle…

The 28-year-old half-Spanish French tennis player outlasted 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the final of the Bad Homburg Open, giving her a first tour title in three years.

Caroline GarciaGarcia had to come back from a set and a break down to beat her opponent.

Garcia took a medical timeout for what seemed to be a shoulder problem early in the second set. She then went 4-2 down before winning 10 of the next 14 games to seal the match ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday.

“It was a fight [for] every point from the first to the last one,” Garcia said.

Caroline GarciaGarcia is 8-3 in career finals but her last title was almost exactly three years ago in Nottingham in the build-up to the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.

Andreescu was looking for her first title since beating Serena Williams in the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows before injuries forced her to miss the entire 2020 season.

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.”

Bernabe Zapata Miralles Defeats John Isner to Reach Fourth Round at French Open

Bernabe Zapata Miralles is continuing to make waves (and beat his personal best) at Roland Garros

The 25-year-old Spanish tennis player, a qualifier at this year’s tournament, defeated USA’s John Isner, the No 23 seed, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 [5], 6-3 to move into the Round of 16 at the French Open.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles Zapata Miralles’ fourth round showing is now his best at a Grand Slam tournament to date. His previous best was the second round at the 2021 US Open.

Zapata Miralles, ranked No. 131 in the world, will next play Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the No 3 seed.

Zapata Mirallas defeated Israel’s Dudi Sela (6-3, 6-0), Portugal’s Gastao Elias (6-1, 6-1), Italy’s Luca Nardi (3-6, 6-4, 6-1), American wildcard Michael Mmoh (7-6 [7], 6-3, 7-5) and USA’s Taylor Fritz, the No 13 seed (3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3) to get to this point.

Earlier in the tournament, Isner, ranked No 26, edged out France’s Quentin Halys (7-6 [3], 4-6, 7-6 [1], 7-6 [6]) and French wildcard Gregoire Barrere (6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 [5]).

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.

WTA Names Carla Suarez Navarro its “Comeback Player of the Year”

Carla Suarez Navarro’s triumphant return to the tennis court is earning her a special award…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis player has been named the Comeback Player of the Year by the WTA, the governing body of the women’s game.

Carla Suarez Navarro 

Suaraez Navarro announced in September, 2020 that she was being treated for early stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

She underwent months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before returning at the French Open in June.

Suárez Navarro retired after Spain’s elimination from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Her final matches in singles and doubles took place during Spain’s previous tie against Slovakia.

World No. 1 Ash Barty was named WTA Player of the Year for the second time, while US Open champion Emma Raducanu took the Newcomer of the Year title.

Barbora Krejcikova took the WTA prize for the Most Improved Player of the Year following a stellar season in which she won the French Open singles crown.

She also excelled in doubles with playing partner Katerina Siniakova, with the pair earning the Doubles Team of the Year award, which they also won in 2018.

Garbine Muguruza Becomes First Spaniard to Win WTA Finals Title

Garbine Muguruza is ending the year with a bang…

The 28-year-old Spanish Venezuelan tennis player defeated Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 7-5 to win the WTA Finals title for the first time in her career and improve her record playing in Mexico to 14 wins and two losses.

Garbine Muguruza Muguruza, who won back-to-back titles in Monterrey in northern Mexico in 2018 and 2019, became the first Spaniard to win the women’s season-ending tournament.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was a runner-up two times, the last time in 1993.

Muguruza’s past successes in Mexico motivated her to play in the WTA Finals. In the ceremony after winning the title, she recalled telling WTA CEO Steve Simon at the US Open that she wanted to play again south of the Rio Grande.

“To qualify, the whole year with my team, I was saying to them, ‘It’s in Mexico, we have to make it, c’mon.’ It was my biggest motivation,” Muguruza said.

The former No. 1-ranked Muguruza, who was a semifinalist in the WTA Finals in 2015, also became the oldest champion since Serena Williams won it in 2014 and will finish the season at No. 3 in the rankings, her best performance since 2017.

 

Muguruza was backed the whole week by a raucous crowd who gathered at Estadio Akron to cheer and clap for her as if she were one of their own.

“It’s funny, the other day I was speaking with my manager. … He was like, ‘You know what, for the first time, Garbine, you’re really using the crowd, really getting that energy and using it on the court. You should do that more often,'” said Muguruza, who entered the Estadio Akron wearing a Mexico soccer team jersey for her last two matches.

“I think a big lesson to me is I should get the energy from the environment. I’m very supported here in Mexico. I don’t know if it will be everywhere, but I used it this week for sure.”

Despite the loss, Kontaveit, who moved from No. 30 in the rankings into the top 10 in the past few months, is projected to finish at No. 7 in the rankings.

Muguruza took control early in the match with three breaks against an erratic Kontaveit, who played better in the second and got a break in the ninth, but the Spaniard broke the Estonian’s next two serves to win it.

The WTA Finals were played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return in 2022 to Shenzhen, China.

Paula Badosa Advances to Semifinals at the WTA Finals

Paula Badosa is on to the next round…

The 23-year-old Spanish tennis player has extended her winning streak to eight matches on Saturday with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari to qualify for the semifinals at the WTA Finals.

Paula BadosaAfter edging Sakkari, Badosa had to wait for the result of the late match between Iga Swiatek and top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who prevailed 2-6, 6-2, 7-5, to see if she advanced to the semifinals as the top player in her group.

“It was quite a tough match. I served well. I fought for every point. I knew was going to be a battle against Maria,” said Badosa. “I think I stayed aggressive. I was moving well. When you win these kind of matches you have to do a little bit of everything well.”

The WTA Finals, canceled last year because of the pandemic, are played in a round-robin format with the top two players from each group of four moving on to the semifinals.

The semifinals will be played on Tuesday and the final is set for Wednesday at the Centro Panamericano de Tenis in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara, the second-largest city in Mexico.

Badosa, ranked No. 63 a year ago, is having a breakthrough season. She won the first two titles of her career in 2021 (Belgrade and Indian Wells) and is among the six players to have made their top-10 debut this season.

“To be honest, I’m quite new. I was 70, 80 in the world at the beginning of the year. I think I got my first top-10 win maybe four months ago, and I needed experience,” Badosa said. “When I got that experience, all of that things, it went well. I think I’m quite competitive. I think I needed a little bit to adjust myself, to be here and play these kind of matches, to learn.”

Swiatek, Sakkari, Anett Kontaveit and Barbora Krejcikova, all of them playing at this tournament, are the others along with Ons Jabeur, who narrowly missed out on a place in Guadalajara.

“I think it was a very high-level match from both of us. Even though I lost, that gives me a lot of confidence for my last match in the round-robin,” said Sakkari, who remains in contention. “I haven’t seen any combinations or anything. I know that I’ll give myself a better chance if I win the next match. I’m just going to focus on that. Anything else, it’s just irrelevant at the moment.”

Sakkari will play Sabalenka on Monday for the last remaining semifinal berth. Kontaveit has already secured a semifinal place in the other group.

Sabalenka, who won titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid this season, is the first seed in Mexico because world No. 1-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia decided not to defend her WTA Finals title due to continuing COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions. Barty had to undergo two weeks of quarantine when she returned to her Brisbane home in September after the U.S. Open and did not want to do the same again traveling to Mexico.

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return in 2022 to Shenzhen, China.

Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Sebastian Korda to Claim Next Gen ATP Finals Title

Carlos Alcaraz has ended his brilliant season with a bang…

The 18-year-old Spanish tennis player defeated Sebastian Korda of the United States to win the Next Gen ATP Finals on Saturday.

Carlos AlcarazThe top-seeded Alcaraz seemed to take a while to find his proper rhythm and had to save a number of break points in his first two service games. But he found his stride there was no turning back as he saw off Korda 4-3 (5), 4-2, 4-2 in 82 minutes.

Alcaraz had seen two championship points saved by Korda in the fifth game of the third set but that only delayed the inevitable as he won on his third, with a smash at the net.

The victory made Alcaraz the youngest player to earn 32 tour-level wins in a season since Andrei Medvedev went 32-11 in 1992 when he was 18.

Alcaraz has moved more than 100 places up the rankings this season to a career-high No. 32 and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Both Korda and Alcaraz had won all four of their matches in the tournament for the top 21-and-under players on the ATP Tour. Alcaraz had only dropped one set all week – in the third group game, after he had already secured a semifinal spot.

The ATP Finals will also be in Italy, in Turin next week.

There are different rules at the Next Gen tournament, including on-court coaching, no-Ad scoring, medical timeout limits, and Hawk-Eye making all the line calls.

The most drastic change is the shorter first-to-four set, with a tiebreaker at 3-3.

Paula Badosa Upsets Top Seed Aryna Sabalenka in Debut Career Match at WTA Finals

Paula Badosa is off to a stellar start…

The 23-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, competing in her first-ever WTA Finals, started off slowly but won 10 games in a row to upset top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday in their opening match at the WTA Finals.

Paula BadosaSabalenka, the world´s No. 2-ranked player, dominated early in the match to take a 4-2 lead, but Badosa recovered and won four games in a row to win the first set and then controlled the second with three breaks.

“I played pretty good, the conditions here are tough to play, but I played an amazing match. I knew I had to play like this to beat her,” Badosa said.

Sabalenka, who won titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid this season, is the first seed in Mexico because world No. 1 Ash Barty of Australia decided not to defend her WTA Finals title due to continuing COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions.

Barty had to undergo two weeks of quarantine when she returned to her Brisbane home in September after the US Open and did not want to do the same again traveling to Mexico.

“I am really disappointed of myself and this match, but hopefully I can bring myself back,” Sabalenka said.

Badosa is having a breakthrough season after starting the year ranked 70th. She will next play Maria Sakkari, who used her strong first serve to extend her dominance over former French Open champoin Iga Swiatek with a 6-2, 6-4 win earlier Thursday.

“My life has changed so much and very fast, I have so much more stress now with a lot of eyes on me,” Badosa said. “The ceiling is high for me, I have always dream big, I want to play in this type of tournaments to play against the best and being challenged every day.”

All of the players are having to adjust their game to the nearly 5,000-feet altitude of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.

The tournament, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, features a round-robin group stage before the semifinals.

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return to Shenzhen, China, in 2022.