Rafael Nadal to Play Doubles with Roger Federer at Laver Cup

Rafael Nadal is partnering with his oldest rival…

The 36-year-old Spanish tennis superstar will join forces with Roger Federer as he plays the final professional match of his career at the Laver Cup in London on Friday.

Rafael NadalAt Thursday’s draw, it was confirmed that Federer will join Nadal for Team Europe against the American pair of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock for Team World on Friday night.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, will then be replaced by Italy’s Matteo Berrettini for the rest of the event.

“It’s super special playing with Rafa,” Federer said in a news conference. “… To be able to do that one more time, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.”

Said Nadal: “Tomorrow is going to be a special thing. Difficult. Going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. But for me too. At the end, one of the most important players — if not the most important player — in my tennis career is leaving.”

Federer, 41, who announced last week that he’s retiring because of an ongoing right knee issue, had said Wednesday that playing alongside 22-time Slam champion Nadal would be a unique, fitting way to go out.

“For as long as we battled together, having had always this respect for one another, our families, coaching teams, for us as well to go through a career we both have had, come out the other side and have a nice relationship, is maybe a great message to tennis and beyond,” Federer said.

The three-day team event will begin Friday afternoon at The O2 Arena with two singles matches. Norwegian Casper Ruud, the runner-up at the US Open earlier this month, will play Sock in the opener before Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece takes on Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

The evening session will begin with former world No. 1 Andy Murray up against Alex de Minaur before Federer takes the court for the final time.

“I’m not sure if I can handle it all, but I’ll try,” Federer said Thursday about his sure-to-be-emotional on-court farewell.

Tiafoe, who beat Nadal en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open this month, deadpanned about the matchup, “Yeah, I’m just excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow,” before adding, “It’s going to be iconic to be a part of that. Both guys are absolute legends.”

Federer and Nadal played each other in singles 40 times (Nadal won 26), including 14 Grand Slam matchups (Nadal won 10, going 6-3 in finals). Nadal came out on top in their classic 2008 Wimbledon final, considered by some the greatest match in history, while Federer won their last showdown, in the 2019 semifinals at the All England Club.

They also played one other doubles match together, defeating Jack Sock and Sam Querrey at the inaugural Laver Cup in 2017.

“To be part of this historic moment,” Nadal said about Friday, “is going to be something amazing, unforgettable.”

Cristian Garin Outlasts Alex de Minaur at Wimbledon to Reach First Grand Slam Quarterfinal

Cristian Garin has reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal…

The 26-year-old Chilean professional tennis player, currently ranked No. 43 in the world, showed amazing tenacity to come from two sets and 3-0 down, including saving two match points, as he beat World No. 24 Alex de Minaur in a hugely entertaining five-set slug fest at Wimbledon on Monday to reach his first grand slam quarterfinal.

Cristian GarinGarin eventually triumphed 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4 ,7-6 (6) after four hours and 34 minutes of superb tennis that brought a standing ovation from Wimbledon’s packed Number Two Court.

The two men hammered at each other, with only a handful of first-serve winners, but with a crowd-pleasing sprinkling of classy drop shots and volleys in among the relentlessly accurate groundstrokes and lung-busting chasing to reach them.

de Minaur, who does not know the meaning of a lost cause, seemed to be cruising as he took the first two sets and led 3-0 in the third. But Garin showed great spirit to fight back via a tiebreak and then set up a decider.

Garin saved two match points at 4-5 to take the match to the new “first to 10” final-set tiebreak, where he came through to set up a last-eight meeting with Nick Kyrgios.

The win makes Garin just the eighth Chilean male player to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, and the fourth to do so at Wimbledon after Luis AyalaRicardo Acuna and Fernando Gonzalez. T

“It’s so special,” added Garin. “I’ve been working hard all my life to be in this position. It is a dream for me, Wimbledon. I always said that it is my favorite tournament, I love to be here in London. It’s amazing. It is a dream for me to be in the quarter-finals. I work hard every day to be in those occasions. I will go for it, try to rest and give my best in the next round.”

https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/status/1543973605184241665

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.

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.

Beatriz Haddad Maia Outlasts Alison Riske in Rothesay Open Final to Claim First WTA Tour Title

It’s a memorable first for Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The 26-year-old Brazilian tennis player defeated USA’s Alison Riske 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the Rothesay Open final to claim her first WTA Tour singles title.

Beatriz Haddad MaiaHaddad Maia, currently ranked at a career-high World No.48, fought back from an early break down in the third set before prevailing after 2 hours and 18 minutes in her first meeting with Riske.

She improves to 1-1 in WTA singles finals, having previously finished as runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko at 2017 Seoul. Riske is now 3-10 in WTA singles finals.

In her Nottingham tournament debut, Haddad Maia battled through the field to collect the first WTA singles title by a Brazilian since Teliana Pereira triumphed at Florianopolis 2015.

Beatriz Haddad MaiaHaddad Maia had already been posting strong results in recent weeks. She won her first WTA 125 title in Saint-Malo in May, then followed that up with a run to the WTA 125 Paris final the following week, helping her hit a new peak in the rankings.

Simply by making the Nottingham final, Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian woman to reach a grass-court singles final since Maria Bueno finished runner-up to Margaret Court at Chestnut Hill in 1968.

Earlier in the week, Haddad Maia had knocked top seed Maria Sakkari out in the quarterfinals, which was the left-hander’s fifth consecutive win in her last five meetings against Top 5 players.

Haddad Maia claimed the only break of the first set to lead 2-1, and she took the one-set lead with her second ace of the day. But the second set was all Riske, as the American charged to a 5-0 lead, then came back from 0-40 down to tie up the final.

In the third set, errors by Haddad Maia gave Riske an early break at 2-1, but heavy hitting by the Brazilian allowed her to immediately get back on serve. At 4-3, a terrific passing winner on the sideline gave Haddad Maia double break point, and she claimed that game after a double fault by Riske.

Serving for the championship at 5-3, Haddad Maia coolly wrapped up the match, drawing two return miscues in a row from Riske to complete the last game and grab the crown.

Haddad Maia’s run puts her in a strong position to be seeded at Wimbledon, as she’s projected to rise to a career-best No. 32.

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 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.

Rafael Nadal Eyeing Return to Competitive Tennis Play at Next Month’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Rafael Nadal is hoping to return to the court next month…

The 35-year-old Spanish professional tennis player is aiming to return from injury at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi next month before playing another tournament in his buildup to the Australian Open, the world No. 5 said.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal struggled with back issues at the start of this year and pulled out of Wimbledon and the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He last competed in August at the Citi Open in Washington.

He announced ahead of the U.S. Open that the injury to his left foot would rule him out for the rest of the year but said this week that he might return at the December 16-18 Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event.

“My plan is to play Abu Dhabi in December and a tournament before playing the Australian Open. It is my goal and we are working hard to make it that way,” Nadal said at a sponsor event in Paris.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll be back, but I can say that my goal is to try to come back to Abu Dhabi in December, and then, of course, for the start of the new season in January.

“The injury in my foot still needs to get a little better, but I’m already training almost an hour-and-a-half a day so that’s positive.”

World No. 12 Dominic Thiem, who hasn’t played since suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Open in June, will also return to competitive tennis in Abu Dhabi.

 

Nadal will be bidding for a men’s record 21st major title at the Australian Open, which is scheduled to start on January 17.

Carlos Alcaraz Becomes Youngest Male Player to Reach U.S. Open Quarterfinals in Nearly 60 Years

Carlos Alcaraz has earned a place in US Open history…

The 18-year-old Spanish player beat 141st-ranked qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 to reach the final eight at Flushing Meadows.

Carlos Alcaraz

In the process, Alcaraz has become the youngest man to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open since 1963.

Alcaraz will now face No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 21-year-old from Canada who reached his second straight major quarterfinal by defeating Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4 with the help of 24 aces.

“At some point, age is just a number,” Auger-Aliassime when asked about Alcaraz. “He already feels like a player that is established.”

The 55th-ranked Alcaraz got past No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in his previous match and is the youngest player with two five-set Grand Slam wins in a row since Michael Chang was 16 at the 1988 U.S. Open.

Auger-Aliassime had never reached the final eight at any Grand Slam tournament until Wimbledon in July, a month before he turned 21 on August 8. Now the Canadian is the youngest man to reach consecutive major quarterfinals since Juan Martin del Potro made it to three straight in 2008-09.